One Man's Mighty Extended Family

In this week's Assignment America, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports on a Minnesota man who gave a home to more than 100 foster kids.


After all these years, Larry Scandin still has lots of pictures. Even though they're not his kids — even though he hasn't even seen some of them in decades — Larry still treasures every frame.

Why? "Because I think about them all the time," he says.

Over 14 years, Larry took in foster kids from all over Minnesota. He'd often have 10 at a time, each with more baggage than the next.

"I had a kid whose birthday present on his seventh birthday was cocaine," Larry says.

"He always took some of our toughest kids who came from very difficult homes," says Mike Stevens, who was a juvenile probation supervisor who brought Larry many of the kids.

"I can't say enough good about him," says Stevens. "He would always say, 'Hey, I'm willing to try.' And he always was. And he tried until the nth degree. He never gave up on kids."

He did all this despite a rare neurological disorder that continues to whittle away at his mobility.

Larry says he really wanted to have his own kids. But after the love of his life turned down his marriage proposal in 1972 — and after a 10-year career as a parole officer — his goal shifted from fathering to fostering. He stopped taking new kids long ago, but never stopped thinking about the old ones.

"Life is tenuous, so if you're thinking about them — why are you thinking about them? It's now time to go out there and find them," he says.

What happened next surprised even Larry. The kids not only came back, they brought their own kids and made him part of their families. And of course, they thanked Larry profusely for being the parent that their parents weren't.

"Human physical contact did not exist in my life," says Jason, now a chef, who adds that Larry gave him the first hug of his life.

John, a construction worker, says Larry gave him his first real birthday party — at age 16. He gets choked up thinking about it, saying it was "the first one I want to remember.

The woman who once said "no" to Larry's wedding proposal said "yes" — 25 years later. Her name is Peg, and she seems to be enjoying her new family almost as much as Larry.

So Larry ended up with the woman of his dream, ended up with all these kids and grandkids. Some would say he got it all.

"You want to tell me there's no God?" he says. "It's been a great life."

  • David Hancock

    David Hancock is a home page editor for CBSNews.com.

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