In 2006, a woman named Ree Drummond started a blog detailing her life as a rancher’s wife and mom living in rural Oklahoma. “The Pioneer Woman” quickly became a fan favorite, thanks to her quick wit, adorable kids and delicious recipes.
As time passed, the joke-cracking, family-feeding redhead’s brand became a household name, from her cookbooks and cookware to her long-running show on the Food Network channel. Fans came to view Ree and her family as friendly neighbors as they watched the children grow and got to know the names and faces (even the four-legged ones) on their ranch.
But, although she has remained an open book on most aspects of her life, Drummond has withheld one bit of significant information from fans for some time now: she and her husband, Ladd, have another child. One she calls a “bonus kid.”
In an excerpt from her upcoming book, “Frontier Follies,” she let readers in on the fact that they are foster parents to a young man named Jamar. Although he has been part of the family for about a year and a half, she waited to share the news until he turned 18 due to state regulations and out of respect for his privacy.
Along with the post, she shared a family photo including Jamar on Facebook.
“I’d like to introduce you to Jamar,” she wrote.
Already the parents of Alex (23), Paige (21), Bryce (18), and Todd (16), the Drummonds didn’t plan to become foster parents.
“Fostering a kid was never something Ladd and I pursued or felt called to do, but Jamar’s circumstances presented themselves to us in a way we couldn’t ignore,” she shared in the book excerpt.
It hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing — the family has dealt with teenage “turf wars” and even an ATV accident that nearly ended Jamar’s chance at a football career, along with less serious mishaps such as Drummond trying to thank her foster son by buying him a totally inappropriate collection of fishing equipment (fly-fishing isn’t easy in local ranch ponds). Drummond says they have all found ways to bond with Jamar and that he has become an “inextricable part of our wacky family.”
She calls Jamar smart, funny, and larger than life, writing that she is proud of her “bonus son.” He has several offers to play football at different colleges, she noted.
“I can’t wait to see where life takes him,” she said. “I’ll be in the stands cheering him on.”
This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for additional stories.