Ree Drummond is speaking candidly about the dynamic between her four biological children and her foster son, Jamar.
In an excerpt from her forthcoming book of essays, Frontier Follies, the Food Network star, 51, introduced her foster son, Jamar, 18, who has been living on their Oklahoma ranch for the past year and a half.
Detailing how her children adapted to welcoming Jamar into their family and how she does her best to make them all feel loved at home, Ree also shared how Jamar and her son Bryce, also 18, have dealt with normal sibling fighting.
The two are only a month in age apart, so "there’ve been some natural turf wars and personality clashes" that she and her husband, Ladd Drummond, have had to settle, she said.
"It can be tricky, because we’re mindful not to make Bryce feel like his whole life at home has changed, but we’re also mindful not to default to taking Bryce’s side over Jamar’s," Ree added. "Bottom line, we make them shake hands a lot."
According to Ree, Jamar and the Drummond family grew closer to one another very quickly after Jamar got into an ATV accident on their ranch. ("He’d never driven before, so when he saw the vehicle in the garage he thought it seemed like a fun activity. About fifty yards down the road, he made too sharp a turn and wound up tipping over the ATV and badly injuring his foot," Ree wrote.)
The incident, which occurred only two days after he first arrived at their home, left Jamar bed-ridden for six weeks.
All members of their brood aided Jamar during his recovery. Ree shared that alongside Bryce, her other son Todd, 16, "helped him in and out of bed, wrapped his foot in plastic before he took a shower, and hung out with him when he got bored."
"We were all up in Jamar’s business, and if there'd been any hesitation on any of our parts to interact and get comfortable with one another, his injury quickly knocked down those walls and gave us all a reason to come together," Ree wrote. "Jamar had to learn to trust us, which wasn’t easy."
Elsewhere in her post, Ree detailed the reasoning behind why she is now introducing the world to her "bonus kid."
"I haven’t written or spoken publicly about him much, because for one thing, the state agency that handles fostering has strict rules against posting about foster children on social media, which I get," she explained. "Also, I’ve never wanted to subject Jamar to more attention than he wanted or needed before he had a chance to settle in and get his bearings in our home."
Because Jamar is now 18, Ree says the state restrictions no longer apply, adding that "he told me he’s tired of feeling like we’re trying to hide him from the world."
The cooking star, who is also mom to Alex, 23 and Paige, 21, said that fostering was not something she and her husband had considered before, but decided to do after Ladd met Jamar during high school football practices in their hometown of Pawhuska. "Jamar’s circumstances presented themselves to us in a way we couldn’t ignore," Ree wrote.
In 2018, Ree spoke to PEOPLE about her love for giving back in her own community. At the time, Ree and Ladd had just opened their hotel, the Boarding House, an extension of the Mercantile, Ree's restaurant and retail store. In total, the Drummonds employ more than 250 people, many from the community and neighboring areas.
"We're Bible-reading folks, and we love that verse that says, 'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,' " Ree said in 2018. "We're very mindful of storing up our treasures in heaven rather than on earth. We don't want to bury them in the backyard and sit on them. It's exciting to use whatever success we've achieved to do things that aren't just about us."
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