Five unique South Bay families share what it means to be together
What is family to you? DNA? History? Togetherness? We caught up with a handful of South Bay families who, though unique in many aspects, share a deep love for the South Bay and—most importantly—each other.
- Written byDarren Elms
- Photographed byNancy Pastor
Sherri, Stan, Noah & Bryson Francois with their foster daughter
Sherri and Stan were considering adoption for a while when someone brought to their attention how many children of all ages were in the foster system of L.A. County. When they realized their family was able to provide a safe, nurturing home for a child, they went through the foster-to-adopt program in order be an approved foster family.
They received the call from a social worker asking if they were able to take in a 1-month-old baby girl in just a few days. From the moment she arrived, they fell in love. Sherri sums it up in one of her favorite quotes: “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs—the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”
Rosemary & James Newton
Rosemary and John met in Hermosa Beach and got married more than 67 years ago at American Martyrs Church in 1950. They raised four children and lost two. Their son lives in Missouri and their daughter in Arizona, so they are mostly on their own.
When they bought their house, it was on a dirt road in Manhattan Beach—not too far from Mira Costa High School. They paid $650 for the land. They built a house on that property, and they still live in it today. For them, family is both locality and longevity.
David, Shannon, Sydney, Kylee, Evan & Hailey Schwartz
Rancho Palos Verdes
When Shannon found out she was pregnant, her blood work showed a high indicator usually associated with twins. During a follow-up ultrasound, they discovered a third heartbeat. On another appointment, they found a fourth.
“Needless to say we were terrified to go back to the next ultrasound appointment,” shares David with humor. But he says raising quadruplets has been an amazing journey, one that has been both extremely challenging and rewarding. “To be able to watch these children grow into the beautiful, bright, compassionate individuals they are becoming is overwhelming in every way.”
When people ask if it gets easier raising their four kids as they get older, David and Shannon say, “Not really; it’s different.” Adds David, “We may not be going through diapers like they were going out of style, but we have become masters of conflict resolution, scheduling, chauffeuring, volunteer work, all types of sports and, currently, eighth-grade math!
Anthony Peña Huertas, Francis Díaz Irizarry & Pedro Antonio Peña Diáz
Anthony and Francis, both from Puerto Rico, met at their hometown Catholic church. They were married in 2008, just as he was commissioned as second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. After nearly a decade abroad, the couple arrived in Torrance last year with son Pedro.
“There is a great pride and purpose in what we do as a military family,” shares Francis. “It also comes with unique challenges. We move every three years, leaving behind our family, friends and the cities we love. But we always try to look at each move as an opportunity to explore and discover new places.”
Derek Billings, Chris Carter, Kira and Hunter Billings-Carter & Hula
Derek and Chris wanted their twins to be raised in a small town that resembled the ones they grew up in. The more they visited Manhattan Beach, the more they knew it was the perfect place for their family.
“At first our kids’ new friends would ask me, ‘Why does Kira have two daddies?’ to which I replied, ‘Well, some families have two daddies, some have only one parent, some have a mom and dad. All families are different.’ The child would usually say, ‘Oh. Do you like Pokemon?’ We’ve even heard stories of some of our kids’ friends complaining to their parents, ‘I want two dads! Hunter and Kira’s dads are so cool!’
“Family is love. Loving someone more than yourself. Loving the life you build together. Loving each other’s accomplishments, hopes and dreams. Loving the family you are born with and the family you choose. And loving the people in our lives that lift us up.” ν