woman raising her 5 siblings

20-Year-Old Takes On Raising Her Five Siblings After Both Parents Die From Cancer

No parent would ever believe the possibility that their children could be left all alone in the world to fend for themselves. No one would ever want to think about a time when their children may be adopted by other people because they are no longer there to perform their duties. No one brings kids into the world and makes preparations for a time when those kids would be orphans. With two parents, it’s hard enough to raise children while working your 9-5’s. Well, there is a 20-year-old working tables at night and standing on her feet all day, raising her 5 siblings. 

Samantha Rodriguez from Orange County, Florida refused to watch her siblings be split up and sent to different foster homes in 2016, following the death of their father. Alexander Rodriguez died from lymphoma at the age of 44, when Samantha was only 17. Three years earlier in 2013, her mother, Lisa Smith, had died from cervical cancer at the age of 35. Instead, she’s raising her 5 siblings on her own.

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Some relatives could have taken the children in, but no one could take in all 6 of them. They’d have to be separated one way or the other. 

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Speaking to People.com, Samantha said she wasn’t about to sit back grieving and watch her close-knit family be pulled apart [1].

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“I decided that I had to do everything I possibly could to help these kids,” she says. “There was no way that I was going to let us be split up.”

Against all odds

7-year-old Destiny, 9-year-old Bella, 12-year-old Michael, 14-year-old Brenda, and 16-year-old Milagros are all old enough to know what their elder sister saved them from.

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“I don’t know where we would be without Sam, but I know it wouldn’t be good,” says Michael in appreciation of his amazing big sister.

Samantha wanted us to stay together as a family. It means so much to us.”

Milagros said. These children are fully aware that at the age of 20, Samantha should be out there living her best life and focusing on herself, her dreams, and experimenting with careers, all while being wild and free. But she gave all that up to protect them. She chose to keep them together and be both mother and father in a cold, hard world. 

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Technically,  76-year-old grandmother, Lourdes, are the children’s legal guardian. However, she can’t always help the way she would like due to her arthritis. Following their mother’s death in 2013, the children moved with their father to Georgia for a fresh start. He’d been an alcoholic who wasn’t always there while their mother had worked hard as a cleaner. However, when she died, he stepped up to be there for his children. Sadly, he died three years later and they had to move yet again to Orlando, where Samantha got a job as a waitress. 

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Between taking care of her siblings during the day, preparing meals, catching up on doctor’s appointments, laundry trips, grocery shopping, and basically doing everything both parents would do to cater for the children, Samantha would also work nights serving at a restaurant to provide for her siblings. She’s one rare, true, heroine.

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They deserve everything. I look at these kids, and I know it will all be alright,” says Samantha.

Help never stops coming

Samantha says she’s totally blown away at how much assistance the family has been receiving from the community and even from strangers they do not know. Samantha is thankful to her boyfriend of two years, Jesus Santana, who has been a tremendous help to her and a huge part of her support system. December 2018 had been a beautiful Christmas for the family when the local Sheriff station stepped in to take care of provisions, preparations, and everything else in between.

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Earlier this year, anonymous donors contributed funds and gifted Samantha a car, presented to the family by well-meaning members of the town. This much-needed gift has gone a long way in helping her coordinate her activities with the children.   

“I am so blown away by the help we’ve received,” says Samantha. “It’s a reminder that everything will be okay.”

Created in April 2019, Samantha and her siblings have a GoFundMe page that has so far amassed a shocking $116,115 from kind-hearted donors all over the world. 

Samantha’s biggest plan is to move her family into a bigger home where the children can live more comfortably. She’s saving as much money as possible to make this possible. She also plans to enroll in at the local college and take some classes. When her siblings come of age, she’d want them to go to college as well and not be derailed like she was. To bring some excitement into the children’s lives, she hopes they’d be able to visit Disney World soon, and thankfully, the amusement park is quite close to their home in Florida.  

Samantha’s life isn’t what she planned it would be at the age of 20, but she’s a happy, optimistic young woman with a great future ahead of her.

Best of luck to this wonderful family!

Keep Reading: Local photographer captures spirit of love after groom dies

Sources:

  1. Keating, Caitlin. 20-Year-Old Takes on Raising Her Five Siblings After Both Parents Die from Cancer. People. https://people.com/human-interest/florida-girl-raises-five-siblings-parents-died-cancer/. Retrieved 22-07-19
  2. Rodriguez, Samantha. Rodriguez siblingsGo Fund Me. https://www.gofundme.com/f/Samantha-Rodriguez-raising-her-5-siblings. Retrieved 22-07-19
Chloe Crawford
Freelance Writer
Chloe Crawford is a communications associate for TD Insurance. Before this role, Chloe pursued her honors undergraduate degree in business communications from Brock University. Chloe takes pride in her storytelling abilities – specifically the impact her advice articles, and her articles about Indigenous issues have made.
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