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Huntington Beach family grew by two after helping foster care kids in need

The Knutsen family of Huntington Beach.
The Knutsen family of Huntington Beach includes, left to right, Brady, father Rob, Sadie, Bentley, mother Holly, Brock and AJ.
(Courtesy of Native Heart Photography)
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Baseball plays a key role in the Knutsen household, especially with summer just around the corner.

Four of the five children are boys, and wiffle ball is common in the front yard of their southeast Huntington Beach home. A sign near the front door proclaims the family is proud to be home to a Seaview Little League All-Star.

Rob and Holly Knutsen are certainly kept busy, with five children under one roof.

“We always call it a circus,” Holly Knutsen said. “Busy, loud … but fun, though.”

Brady and Brock are 12 and 10 years old, respectively, and Sadie, the only girl, is 8.

The most recent additions to the family, AJ, 6, and Bentley, 3, have also certainly been a blessing for the Knutsens.

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The family has adopted both boys over the past several years, with the help of nonprofit Olive Crest foster care.

Bentley Knutsen prepares to swing in a game of frontyard wiffle ball as AJ Knutsen catches on Tuesday.
Bentley Knutsen prepares to swing in a game of frontyard wiffle ball as AJ Knutsen catches on Tuesday.
(Matt Szabo)

Rob explained that he and his wife had previously served with Royal Family KIDS Camp, which takes kids out of the foster care system and gives them a week of normal camp experience.

“That kind of planted a seed that we were interested and aware of the foster care need,” Rob Knutsen said.

Their second-born son, Brock, was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. After sharing their story at an event, a relief-based system called Strong Families came across a homeless mother whose child had the same cleft lip and palate.

That was AJ.

“A 30-day commitment turned into 60, turned into 90, and he needed serious medical help,” Rob Knutsen said. “We said we’d step in and do whatever help [we could] to give him the help he needed, and his birth parents chose private adoption. That was our first introduction to Olive Crest, who partnered with Strong Families.”

The Knutsens, foster certified, received an emergency placement of a preemie infant in July 2020. That was Bentley, who was formally adopted into the family in February 2023.

May is National Foster Care Month, and the Knutsens want to do their part to raise awareness for both Olive Crest as an organization and the need for help.

Olive Crest, headquartered in Santa Ana, serves 5,000 children and families each day throughout the western United States. The vision is a strong family for every child.

“We are so grateful for families like the Knutsens, who volunteer so selflessly to open both their hearts and homes to children in distress,” said Jennifer Halliburton, church and community engagement director for Olive Crest. “They are there for whatever the child may need, be it hosting them for a short weekend or a longer-term arrangement.”

The five Knutsen children include three biological kids and two adopted from foster care.
The five Knutsen children include three biological kids and two adopted from foster care.
(Courtesy of Native Heart Photography)

The Knutsen children seem to thrive among the chaos. Brock, the second-born, said it’s been fun to help teach AJ and Bentley how to play sports. He added that they’ve fit in well.

“After a while, you kind of forget sometimes and you just feel like they’re your normal brother,” Brock said. “That’s most times. Sometimes, it’s the other way.”

Rob said the support of Olive Crest has been critical throughout the whole process. At holidays, their case manager comes with gifts for every child of the family, not just AJ and Bentley.

Others also enjoy showering the kids with adoration. Bentley’s birth grandmother and aunt remain involved in his life. His “Grandma” encourages all of the Knutsen children to call her just that, and brings Bentley plenty of Dodgers and Raiders clothing to wear.

“She works at the grocery store and comes with huge boxes of fruit snacks and juice,” Holly Knutsen said. “Just this last week, she brought each boy a Mookie Betts bobblehead.”

Rob Knutsen, wearing a San Diego Padres cap during the interview, just smiled at the mention of the Dodgers star.

“We were anti-Dodgers and Raiders for a long time, but now we have to embrace the Dodgers,” he said.

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