All mothers are extraordinary. But one local mom has made motherhood her mission.
LaTasha Clark is the mother of 15 children–four biological, seven adopted and four fostered.
While she is new to the area, having recently moved here from Alabama, she was recognized May 22 with the Extraordinary Mom Award at the Medtech College Atlanta-DeKalb campus, where she attends school.
“We have a lot of students who are moms, and we wanted to recognize that,” said Ben Simms, campus president. “Each mom will be getting an orange rose, but we wanted to find someone who went above and beyond.”
A committee including Simms and the heads of departments formed to honor all mothers and to determine who would be getting the Extraordinary Mom Award. Over two weeks, students nominated peers and according to Simms, an overwhelming number of students selected Clark.
Her seven adopted children came from the Alabama foster care system, where they were sent after drug abuse and alcohol problems came to light in their biological families.
Living with Clark in her home are her youngest son, and his girlfriend. The three attend Medtech College together, while Clark also works full-time as a home health aide.
The award was presented in the middle of class to a surprised Clark, who held back tears until after the short ceremony.
“I am just grateful for the kids that are in my family and in my life,” Clark said. “Coming back to school, I was like ‘If this will help them get back to school to better themselves, then I just have to start all over again.’”
A retired registered nurse, Clark is now in the billing and coding track at Medtech. She said her children needed that extra push to go back to school, so she did it with them.
Her first calling for her large family came when she recognized a friend of her children’s at the courthouse where she formerly worked.
“My kids’ friends always had to come to my house and play,” Clark said, “They never went to anyone else’s house because of the conditions. I let all the kids come to my house.”
The routine was to come home from school, do homework, then play. If you did your work, there were rewards, like the annual family trip to Disney World, she said.
One of the friends who hung around the house was in and out of foster care, though Clark didn’t know his situation. While working as a fill-in for the local judge’s secretary, Clark saw the child come in to court.
“The judge said, ‘You know him?’ and I said ‘Yeah I know him, he’s at my house every day,’” Clark said. “The judge said, ‘I’m going to take a short recess,’ and he came back and talked to me and said, ‘If I get you settled, will you please take him, because we have nowhere else to put him.’”
Clark said neighbors claimed the child was going to be the one who didn’t make it. But he thrived with his new family, serving with the army for four years and earning an E-4 rank. He is now married with two children and returned from Afghanistan in January.
“The one that everyone thought would fail came back and got his siblings motivated,” Clark said. “We even got his mom in a drug treatment program, and she’s back in school herself.”
Clark has also seen her share of struggles. One son died in a car accident, and this past Thanksgiving, her oldest son was found murdered. But she said she was at peace with the loss, and that his time had come.
“Their memories are still here, and the other children are still growing from those memories,” she said. “God gives us all purpose and times to be here and time to leave.”
In 2013, Clark was resuscitated by paramedics when her heart stopped due to diabetic complications. She didn’t find out who saved her life until she went to pay the medical bill.
“I thank God for him, because I know God has a purpose that I’m still here,” Clark said.
“All kids need a mother figure in their life,” Clark said. Our kids are the future, we have to teach them and steer them up so they can be better parents to their children.”
This article originally appeared in The Champion Newspaper.