A woman who suffered 11 miscarriages and was plagued with a decade of infertility issues is now a mother of 12 – after giving birth to four children, fostering two more, and adopting six who all suffer from fecal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Alicia, 41, and Josh Dougherty, 43, from Pittsford, New York, began fostering children back in 2010, after spending years suffering from heartbreak while trying to conceive.
The couple went through 11 miscarriages before they decided to turn to the foster care system.
They then brought in their first child – a boy named Alexander, now 16, who suffers from fecal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
A woman who suffered 11 miscarriages is now a mother of 12 – after giving birth to four children, fostering two (not pictured), and adopting six who all suffer from fecal alcohol spectrum disorder
Alicia, 41, and Josh Dougherty, 43, began fostering back in 2010, after spending years struggling with infertility. Their kids (not including their foster children) are pictured
The couple went through 11 miscarriages before they decided to turn to the foster care system
They then brought in their first child – a boy named Alexander (pictured right), now 16, who suffers from fecal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)
FASD is a group of conditions that can occur in a person who was exposed to alcohol before birth, and it can cause physical, developmental, and behavioral problems.
Due to his condition, Alexander would throw severe tantrums, and at one point, Alicia recalled him throwing their rug down the stairs at her in a rage.
‘We were like, “What did we get ourselves into?”‘ she told Today Parents during a recent interview.
‘But we refused to give up. So we dove headfirst into researching and reading about FASD, and trying to figure out how to best meet his needs and little by little, he began to trust us.’
Due to his condition, Alexander (pictured third from the left) would throw severe tantrums, but Alicia and Josh worked hard to gain his trust
After seeing how well the couple did with Alexander, they soon became the ‘go-to foster home’ for kids with FASD. Their kids (not including their foster children) are pictured
They went on to adopt Alex (right), as well as James (left), 15, Patrick (second from left), 13, Bree (third from left), 11, and twins Jordan and Jason (sitting on steps, left and right), seven – who all also suffer from FASD
After seeing how well the couple did with Alexander, they soon became the ‘go-to foster home’ for kids with FASD.
What is fecal alcohol spectrum disorder
- Fecal alcohol spectrum disorder is a group of conditions that can occur in a person who was exposed to alcohol before birth. Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes to the baby through the umbilical cord
- There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant. There is also no safe time to drink during pregnancy
- Alcohol can cause problems for a developing baby throughout pregnancy, including before a woman knows she’s pregnant. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including all wines and beer
- These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning
- There is no cure for FASDs, but research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development
- There are many types of treatment options, including medication to help with some symptoms, behavior and education therapy, parent training, and other alternative approaches
- Source: CDC
‘People quickly realized that tantrums didn’t faze us,’ said Alicia. ‘So the phone kept ringing.’
They went on to adopt Alex, as well as five more kids, named James, 15, Patrick, 13, Bree, 11, and twins Jordan and Jason, seven – who all also suffer from FASD.
The pair also now share four biological children of their own, named Zoey, 10, Dashel, eight, Bodhi, five, and Harlee, three, and they recently took in two more foster kids, named Navaeh, 13, and Dayshawn, 12 – making them a family of 14.
‘These kids tend to have very poor executive functioning skills,’ Alicia explained, while discussing FASD.
‘Socially and emotionally they’re not the same age as they are chronologically, so they don’t understand the social cues of their peers.’
The mom-of-12 said growing up with a brother who has bipolar disorder helped prepare her for dealing with some of the symptoms of FASD.
‘I’m used to being around random crying and big emotions,’ she explained. ‘It’s my norm, it doesn’t bother me at all.
‘Our [kids] have explosive rage, anger issues, and trouble with transitioning. There are many, many meltdowns.’
As for her husband, Josh – who works as an elementary school special education teacher – he is determined to be a good father for his 12 kids, especially since he didn’t have one growing up.
‘Josh was raised by a single mom who worked three jobs,’ Alicia revealed. ‘And so Josh loves having this big family that’s always together.’
Alicia, who said she has to do five loads of laundry per day and spends around $1,000 a week on groceries, often shares a glimpse into her life as a mom-of-12 on social media, where the family are known as the Dougherty Dozen.
She has racked up more than 500,000 followers on Instagram, where she posts videos and pictures of her daily life while raising a dozen children.
The pair also share four biological children, named Zoey (center), 10, Dashel (front center), eight, Bodhi (front left), five, and Harlee (front right), three. They also recently took in two more foster kids, named Navaeh, 13, and Dayshawn, 12 (not pictured)
Last summer, Alicia went viral on TikTok, where she now has four million followers, after she posted a video showing off her incredible meal-prepping skills
The clip showed the mom-of-12 preparing food at 5 A.M. for her large family, which included making sandwiches, packing lunches, and preparing their breakfast
Last summer, she also went viral on TikTok – where she now has four million followers – after she posted a video showing off her incredible meal-prepping skills.
The clip showed her preparing food at 5 A.M. for her large family, which included making sandwiches, packing lunches, and preparing their breakfast.
She has since shared tons more videos of herself on the app, doing things like shopping for her enormous family and cooking for the household, as well as spending time with her 12 kids and going on various outings together as a family.
‘I think we’re done,’ Alicia joked with Today Parents, when asked if they had plans to have adopt or welcome any more children together. ‘I think 12 is my cap.’