Northern Virginia family looking to rebuild after fire destroyed home

The Rancourt family is trying to rebuild after a house fire earlier this month. (Courtesy GoFundMe campaign)

A Northern Virginia family known for opening up their home to other children, often with difficult health issues, now needs help after a fire earlier this month destroyed their home.

When the fire broke out in Jacques and Emily Rancourt’s home in Bristow, Virginia, dad Jacques Rancourt was able to get the kids and the family pets safely out.

But much of the home was damaged, and the Rancourts’ possessions were destroyed.

“It was just the ultimate,” Jacques Rancourt said. “You don’t even know how to process those moments. You just make whatever decisions you can in the middle of it. Just that call, calling Emily, and letting her know, ‘Hey, I don’t even know how to say this, but I’m watching my house burn.'”

A fire broke out at Jacques and Emily Rancourt’s home in Bristow, Virginia, earlier this month. (Courtesy Jacques Rancourt)

This is just the latest in a series of trials for the Rancourt family. Five of the seven children in their home are dealing with severe medical issues.

The couple, who have two daughters of their own, wanted to make their family a bit larger by adopting one child from China with a heart problem. But they adopted two children, Lily and Mackenzie, who both had heart issues and disheartening diagnoses from the doctors in China.

Lily was not expected to survive, doctors said; she was born with half a heart, on the wrong side of her chest, backwards and upside down. But the family had faith and good doctors at Children’s National Hospital. Thanks to a heart transplant, Lily is living a mostly normal life.

Mackenzie, it turned out, did not have a heart problem, but had been abused and was likely sick from some of that abuse at the orphanage. Following ear and brain surgery, she is doing well.

A year after those first adoptions, the orphanage in China called to tell the family about a little boy, Thaddeus, who also had heart issues. The Rancourts adopted him as well.

“He’s a fragile boy,” Jacques Rancourt said. “He is living in heart failure, and we pray every day that his body will continue to evolve and that the Lord will open doors, that doctors will come up with procedures they can do to extend his life.”

Then, in 2016, the Rancourts got another call, this time from an orphanage in New York. They went on to adopt Annabella, who had cerebral palsy, a brain bleed and a hole in her heart.

In 2018, the Rancourts adopted their youngest child, Luna, who also had an ailing heart.

At the time of the house fire, Luna and Emily Rancourt were in California, where Luna was recovering from a 17-hour heart surgery.

In the weeks since the fire, Luna has been transferred back to Children’s National, but Jacques and Emily Rancourt are having to split their time to stay with all the children. Dad is spending his time in a hotel with six kids, while mom is pretty much living in the hospital with Luna.

Jacques Rancourt, who is the lead pastor at Gateway Bible Church in Gainesville, Virginia, said that although there’s a lot the family is currently facing, it’s not insurmountable.

“What we’re dealing with is difficult,” Jacques Rancourt said. “What we’re dealing with is the loss of stuff, the loss of routine, the loss of predictability, the loss of health, but the loss of life is a whole different ballgame.”

“And sure, we have a lot that we’re fighting against. But we’re still thankful that every day we can still wake up in the morning, put up our dukes and fight. It’s hard, but with each other and with the Lord, we’re doing what we can,” Rancourt added.

He’s not sure how long the family’s hotel stay will be, but his insurance company is trying to find a home for them that will be near to where the children go to school.

There is a GoFundMe set up for the family to help them replace the things they have lost.

“Those are the funds that we’re going to use when we begin to piece things back together, figure out what we need to do to replace the bus, what we need to do to replace things that were in the house,” Rancourt said.

As for their home, it could take a year for it to be rebuilt.

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Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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