CatholicNews catches up with the Chin family whose teenage quintuplets recently received the Sacrament of Confirmation
Bringing up quintuplets is definitely challenging, but Humphrey and Dorothy Chin say they are thankful to God for His blessings on their large family.
Their children – Adriel, Alicia, Annabelle, Amanda, and Andre – who are now 16 years old, received the Sacrament of Confirmation on May 18 at the Church of St Mary of the Angels, their parish.
CatholicNews featured them when they were baptised in 1997 and also after they received their First Holy Communion in 2006.
Today, proud daddy Humphrey marvels at how the family has managed their finances all these years with their large household, which also includes Dorothy’s mother, Madam Theresa Chan, and a domestic helper.
“I would say it is God’s providence,” he said. “Just can’t imagine...16 good years,” he beamed.
In an interview with CatholicNews published in January 2007, the couple spoke about the strong support they received from their extended family network. Both grandmothers helped out when the children were babies and this allowed the couple to catch up on sleep.
The couple also divided up their responsibilities with help from domestic helpers. They prepared a timetable to ensure that everyone knew exactly what needed to be done and when.
The family tried their best to stretch their income by using hand-me-down books and clothing from cousins, and buying catechism books from the parish thrift shop.
Today, the couple say they are still able to manage their finances well. Humphrey, a civil servant, and Dorothy, who works in the finance industry, say they reduce expenses such as having home cooked meals almost daily and avoiding food wastage.
The family is even able to take short vacations together.
“I don’t want to go to the extreme end of being frugal,” said Humphrey, although he admitted that “there will be trials and challenges. Cannot hide that.”
He added that he will provide for his children’s education locally until they reach tertiary level.
Their Catholic faith is an indispensable part of their lives, family members told CatholicNews.
Although sacrifices have to be made, Dorothy says she believes in the “God of all possibilities”.
“Just have to believe there’s always a solution to everything,” she said.
Humphrey also insists that the whole family attend Mass together on weekends and days of obligation. This is “non-negotiable”, he stressed, and is part of the couple’s efforts to provide for their kids spiritually.
When Adriel and Andre, who are altar servers, were asked to serve at the 7.30 am Sunday Mandarin Mass for a year, the family woke up early to attend that Mass together even though they do not fully understand the Mandarin readings.
To get around this problem, they would read the passages in English first.
The couple also ensure that their children do not miss catechism classes unless they are ill, and shared that they do their best to instil the values of love, respect, graciousness and gratitude.
Daughter Annabelle shared that the Catholic faith has kept her and siblings “grounded”, while Alicia said she is grateful her parents instilled the habit of attending Mass as a family.
Although she did not fully appreciate this practice initially, it gradually made sense over the years, she said.
The girls in the family are also involved in their parish’s baking ministry, called Five Loaves.
The couple said they do their best to “work as a team” in parenting their kids – for example, not shouting at one another in front of the children if the two of them have disagreements.
In such instances, the couple would work out their differences privately and do their best to set a good example in front of the children, said Dorothy.
The quintuplets are now old enough to read body language, she explained, and also mature enough to be reasoned with. Sometimes they would give her advice, she added.
The couple also do not take sides when the kids argue among themselves.
“[We] don’t get involved. They will talk about it. They will get back together,” Dorothy said.
The couple say relatives such as aunts and cousins are also very much involved in the lives of the quintuplets and are constantly in contact with them.
In addition, the family is also close to Sr Christine, an elderly Canossian nun, whom Dorothy describes as the family’s “spiritual compass”.
Some of the most memorable moments in their family life have been taking overseas trips together and seeing their children grow and able to play and compete in sports, said the couple.
However, the happiest moment for them was still when the children were born – which was nothing short of a “miracle”, they shared.
As far as their children’s future is concerned, Humphrey said he hopes they continue to live their faith “regardless of where they are” and make it a point to share meals together.
“My hope for them is that they would be happy, positive,” said Dorothy. She added that she wants her children to know that there is always a solution to problems and always to have hope.
The couple also has advice for parents and parents-to-be, saying that children should be seen as “God’s blessings”. The Bible says that whoever welcomes children, welcomes God, they noted.
QUINTUPLETS SHARE THEIR DREAMS
Annabelle hopes to work with children when she grows up – as a primary school teacher. Amanda, thinks she could also become a teacher as she feels she is a patient person.
Andre, on the other hand, feels he would like to play basketball professionally, but would also settle for being a policeman.
Adriel says he is interested in aviation. He would like to do an aviation-related course in a polytechnic and perhaps join a flying club.
Alicia says she enjoys TV series Criminal Minds and Crime Scene Investigation and is interested in forensic science. However, she is also interested in being a chef.
Being part of a big family has its advantages, the quintuplets shared. With four other lively siblings, one does not feel lonely, says Andre.
Alicia says she cannot imagine growing up without any of her other siblings as they “hang out together and grew up in each other’s company”. She added that they complement each other with their different characters.
Alicia is said to have leadership qualities while Andre is “generous”. Amanda is quiet and diligent while Adriel is a “nice person to talk to” who offers good advice. Annabelle is also described as diligent and thoughtful.
According to Alicia, she and her siblings enjoy a mental connection with one another – sometimes one sibling knows that the other is thinking.
The teenagers say that even when they are grown up, they still hope to meet frequently and even go on trips together.
By Darren Boon