With their lives being broadcast on national television every week for nearly the last ten years, most fans know a lot about the Brown family of Sister Wives.
Here are some facts about the mega family that you probably didn’t know.
Kody and Meri once courted an underage teenager they met at church
Kody was once engaged to an underage girl but she bailed a week before the wedding was scheduled, as detailed in the book, Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage. According to accounts by wife number one, Meri in the book, Kody and Meri courted the teenager and fully intended to wait until she was of legal age before they wed.
Wife number three, Christine also detailed accounts of the courtship in the book. Meri and Kody were in their early twenties when they met the teenager at church.
In the book, Meri wrote, “She and I became close friends right away. This was unusual for me and I immediately took it as a sign that Kody and I were destined to marry her. This girl and I loved hanging out together and spent lots of time on our own without Kody.”
About the courtship ending, Meri continued in the book, “Back then we were all so young, she was only eighteen and Kody and I were in our first year of marriage – so we may have mistaken a crush for love. Nevertheless, I felt personally betrayed. I had lost one of my closest friends, a woman I imagined would have been a perfect sister wife.”
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Most of Kody’s wives were pregnant when a new wife entered the family
Often when Kody took on a new wife, another one of his wives was pregnant. When second wife Janelle joined the family, Meri and Kody didn’t yet have any children together.
Janelle ended up pregnant and giving birth before Meri did. When third wife Christine entered the plural marriage, second wife Janelle was pregnant with Kody’s first child, Logan. When fourth wife Robyn joined the family, Christine was pregnant with Kody’s thirteenth child, Truely, who ironically was born on the 13th of April.
The Browns have a tangled family tree and some of them are related
Several of the wives and Kody are related; some by DNA, some by marriage.
Polygamist bloodlines often intersect, and some have claimed Kody married Christine because she is “polygamy royalty.”
One family tree has Kody and Christine sharing distant grandparents, making them fourth cousins. Janelle was once married to Meri’s brother, previously making her Kody and Meri’s sister-in-law. And Janelle’s mother was married to Kody’s father, making her and Kody step-siblings.
Robyn’s ex-husband, David Jessop, is Christine’s first cousin and Kody’s third cousin. Kody’s daughter, Maddie with second wife Janelle, is married to Caleb Brush, Maddie’s aunt’s brother/the brother of Kody’s sister-in-law, Erica Brush Brown.
Robyn’s son, Dayton is on the Autism spectrum
Robyn’s son, Dayton, from her previous marriage, is on the Autism spectrum.
In 2018 on her blog post, My Sister Wife’s Closet, she talked about Dayton stimming as a child (a common trait of those diagnosed with Autism) and struggling with coordination. She detailed that as a young child, Dayton was behind on a lot of major milestones, such as potty-training and talking.
As he grew, he developed food aversions, he struggled with sounds and light, and hyper-focused on particular topics and activities — all typical Autistic traits.
At the recommendation of Dayton’s school’s counselor and psychologist, Robyn had him tested and he was diagnosed with Asperger’s, a “high functioning” form of Autism. In honor of Dayton and everyone affected with Autism, Robyn designed a heart-shaped necklace with a puzzle piece and the words, “always in my heart” engraved on it.
Kody and Christine’s daughter, Ysabel, has scoliosis
Christine and Kody’s daughter Ysabel has scoliosis and recently had corrective surgery.
Ysabel is Kody and Christine’s fifth biological child together, next to the youngest of the six kids they share. Ysabel’s diagnosis was featured on an episode of Sister Wives in 2017.
Kody and Christine were initially skeptical of medical intervention and chose to have their daughter wear a brace to address the aggressive curvature of her spine. Ysabel struggled with wearing the brace, due to discomfort, bruising, and mobility.
Christine Brown launched a fundraiser of sorts to raise money for Ysabel to have surgery to correct her spine curvature and improve her function. Kody’s third wife begged followers to shop her LuLaRoe clothing line and was able to raise $25,000 of the $50,000 she initially asked for.
She told fans, “One of my daughter’s needs a surgery. I need $50,000 for a down payment for the surgery. You guys are helping me make it happen. Thank you. $50,000 for a down was so daunting so I decided to just work hard.” Christine flew Ysabel and other daughters Gwendlyn and Truely first class to New Jersey for the surgery.
Sister Wives fans who saw Gwendlyn’s post were not pleased that the plural wife and three of her daughters were flying first-class after begging for money amid supposed financial troubles. Ysabel recovered fully from her surgery and seems to be living a typical teenage lifestyle.
Kody’s second wife Janelle was the first to make him a father
Logan was the first of six children that Janelle and Kody share biologically. As of now, Janelle is also the only one of Kody’s wives to have biological grandchildren. Their daughter, Maddie, has son Axel and daughter, Evie.
Christine will soon join the title of biological grandmother, as she and Kody’s second eldest child, daughter Mykelti, is expecting her first child with husband Tony Padron any day now.
Meri was fired from a job for being a polygamist
Meri got fired from a job once the show aired because they thought it would have a negative impact on their image due to her being in a plural marriage.
The Browns knew there were inherent risks involved with going public about their polygamist lifestyle. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Meri got fired from a job due to her lifestyle choices, but that still didn’t make it easier to handle.
Meri loved her job, working in mental health. Meri told Oprah, “They felt that they needed to protect the company, I think.”
Meri said. “It actually makes me really sad because I loved my job. It breaks my heart, definitely. But I understand where they’re coming from.”
At the time, Kody was working in advertising sales and was also concerned for his job security, but he had better luck than Meri. He told Oprah, “I’ve been in this career for about 10 years, and I’ve been fairly private about it,” he says.
“I had good friends. They understood me, and I was their token polygamist friend.” Eventually, the entire company found out that I was [a polygamist], and the tolerance and acceptance has been beautiful.”
Kody shared a demeaning story about being “grossed out” by wife Christine
Kody once detailed a story about how he was grossed out by wife Christine’s eating habits. According to the family book, Kody recounts taking a road trip through the night with Meri in the front seat and Christine in the back seat, as they were friends before Christine joined the family.
What Kody described in the book is demoralizing to hear. The trio stopped at a quick mart for food and Kody described looking in the rearview mirror at a “chubby” Christine “chowing down on a breakfast that consisted of the biggest portion of chili cheese nachos he ever saw. This grossed Kody out, and he even put the idea of courting Christine on hold because of it.
Unfortunately, those lines of the book are forever etched in time and surely can’t be easy for Christine to hear.
The Browns have relied on government assistance and bankruptcy
Kody and his wives once relied on food stamps and bankruptcy to keep financially afloat.
Meri and Kody filed for bankruptcy in 2005. According to sources, the couple only had $10 cash to their name, and $5 in five joint bank accounts, and had over $80,000 in debts.
Radar Online reported, “At the time, Kody was pulling in $4,000 a month as a salesman at a Billings, Montana, sign shop, and his #1 wife was making just $625 a month as an engraver at an awards company.”
Janelle has also filed for bankruptcy, hers coming four years after marrying Kody. Five years after Meri and Kody filed,
Christine filed for bankruptcy in 2010, the same year she and Kody’s youngest daughter, Truely Grace, was born. Christine claimed she did not have the means to pay off $25,000 worth of debt.
Robyn is the only wife who has not filed for bankruptcy, but she incurred a $32k mound of debt after her divorce from her ex-husband, David Jessop. A fellow polygamist and motivational speaker by the name of Rebecca Kimbel exposed the Browns and their financial situation, claiming they took advantage of taxpayers and used government assistance, even when the show first aired.
Janelle is the only wife who didn’t grow up in the polygamist lifestyle
Janelle is the only wife not to grow up in a plural family. Janelle S. Brown, nee Schriever, grew up in a long line of LDS Mormons, but her family did not practice polygamy growing up.
Interestingly, Janelle’s mother would later enter into plural marriage, just months before Janelle married Kody — by marrying Kody’s father. Janelle didn’t convert to Kody’s religion until after she divorced her first husband, Adam Barber, who is Meri’s brother.
Sister Wives airs on Sundays at 10/9c on TLC.