The McLeod Family
14th April 2022
Photographer: Ashly Nicole
Makeup: Erik Torppe
Hair: Bijan Kazemzadeh
Evan’s Fashion: Joyfolie // Michele Marie PR
Eeka’s Fashion: Rebdolls // Michele Marie PR
Interview: Amy Bell
A proud single mother, Eeka McLeod’s journey to building her family began when she made the decision to pursue her lifelong dream of adopting a child. After becoming a licensed foster parent while in graduate school, she started welcoming children into her home. Throughout her time fostering, Eeka cared for 18 children and eventually adopted three: Eli, Evan and Ella. Eli has Cerebral Palsy while Evan and Ella are on the Autism Spectrum, so she has dedicated her life to meeting their unique needs while helping them find ways to express their individuality. The self-described “family of misfits'' has made a name for themselves on social media during the pandemic with unapologetically real, hilarious content that showcases the triumphs and challenges of their daily life. Their devoted fanbase includes 116 million likes and 2.4 million followers on TikTok, over 100,000 followers on Instagram, as well as over 2.6 million views and over 50,000 subscribers on YouTube.
Eeka is passionate about using the family’s platform to advocate for acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities. Six-year-old Evan, who is non-binary, has become a social media star in his own right thanks to his love of wearing long dresses and colourful hairstyles. His story even caught the attention of TikTok sensations The Old Gays, whom he recently met. You can watch the heartwarming video here. It has also garnered coverage from well-known outlets such as The Today Show, Out Magazine, CBS News,
You have been a proud single foster parent, what made you decide to go into fostering and adopting children as it must be such a rewarding thing to get into?
I always knew I would adopt children. I guess you could say it was a calling for me from a very young age. I met two sisters when I was about 13 years old whose parents were both foster parents. They were two of five biological siblings and their parents would foster two to four kids at a time on top of their five! The minute I walked into their home and saw all of those kiddos, I knew that was how I would make my own family someday.
You have adopted three children: Eli, Evan, and Ella. How do all 3 of them get on with each other?
Eli is my most chill kiddo and Evan and Ella adore him. They love to run to me and tell me that they’re going to give him kisses and then they take off to find him and shower him with affection. Evan and Ella are very close, but tend to fight a lot over the same clothing and toys. But when one is without the other, they will tell me how much they miss their sibling. It’s very sweet.
Your child Eli has cerebral palsy and Evan and Ella are on the autism spectrum. How do you deal with the challenges that you face every day with their needs?
As far as getting everything done it just comes down to putting one foot in front of the other until I can’t go anymore. I am exhausted most days and the mental and emotional toll my role as mom takes on me can be overwhelming.
You have 2.4 million TikTok followers. Do you feel any pressure to maintain your TikTok life while looking after 3 children and how do you maintain the upload schedule?
I do because social media is now my line of work. I want to do my best to deliver content that is not only fun, funny, and cute, but also educational. It can be difficult to maintain a home, kids, pets, work, and then create content. I’m getting much better at not stressing about posting every single day. I have three platforms to maintain so I show each one a little love when I have the time and space to create content.
Evan is non-binary. How did you come to terms with this knowing how others would react?
I never had to come to terms with anything. Evan was always Evan and will always be Evan. I have faced an enormous amount of hate, judgment, and criticism for loving and supporting my child. Anyone who cannot accept Evan for who he is has no impact on my ability as his mother to allow him to live his life freely and happily.
How have you been supported with this, as I am sure it is a hard journey?
I have very little by way of support. I have a few close friends who I’m able to talk to or cry to whenever I need to. Not many out there understand a family like ours. That can feel incredibly lonely at times, but thankfully my kids keep me so busy I don’t have much time to think about it.
Your TikTok has helped a lot of other families. How does that make you feel?
Honored. I remember feeling so alone in the beginning and wondering what to do. When I let all that go, I found it a lot easier to step out in public with my kids and just live our lives.