Woman Adopting Six Boys Reveals Her True Motive

Those who choose to foster children are the unsung heroes of the world. To step in and parent and love a child that you know might be leaving you soon must not be an easy emotional weight to bear.

But fostering was an endeavor one Wisconsin mother welcomed. Many thought she was crazy to take in six foster kids on top of her own, but given her past, she knew she had to. Still, it was how she treated the kids that had everyone in town talking…

It’s a startling and unfortunate fact: According to the Adoption Network, “about 428,000 children are currently in foster care in the United States and more than 114,000 cannot be returned to their families.” Wow.

Many of those children also end up on the wrong side of the law since they really don’t have a parental role model to help guide them through life. One woman from Wisconsin was determined to help change things.

When Jessica was 12 years old, her mother lost custody of her, and she was placed in foster care. She hoped a family would quickly take her in, but one of the social workers gave her unfortunate news.

He told Jessica very bluntly that because she was almost a teenager, adoption wasn’t going to be easy. The majority of couples looking to adopt want infants so they can raise them for their whole lives.

ABC News

Determined not to let the difficulties of adoption slow her life progress, Jessica enrolled in college when she turned 18. She eventually earned her degree, but there was always a void in her life.

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Eventually, she had two children of her own, a son named Eli and daughter named Brenna, with her ex-husband. Like any parent, her kids were her world, but she also had her hands full with something else.

She was actually fostering six additional children, which meant she had a household with eight kids running around. Yea, things were often hectic, but Jessica loved it. Most people couldn’t handle it, but Jessica had her own personal reasons.

To return the favor from her adoptive parents was the biggest reason she showed so much generosity with the six siblings she was fostering. Like her, they were without loving role models to help them grow into respectable adults.

Facebook / Jessica Benzakein

Plus, the Milwaukee resident knew all about how frustrating any adoption process can quickly become. At first, excitement is abound, but legal issues can always swoop in and screw things up. She kept the kids’ expectations steady, hopeful, and realistic.

Facebook / Jessica Benzakein

Amazingly, the six kids got along perfectly with Jessica’s two biological children, which couldn’t have worked out better. In fact, she saw the kids as her own, so she made a massive decision.

Facebook / Jessica Benzakein

She brought the whole family down to the courthouse one afternoon with the appropriate paperwork in an attempt to legally adopt all six kids, making her child count a whopping eight! Of course, she wasn’t sure if she could make it happen.

Facebook / Jessica Benzakein

Naturally, it’s always a bit nerve-wracking going into a court hearing like this in case things don’t pan out the way you hope. But, Jessica kept her fingers crossed that the judge would make the right decision.

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The case was so popular the local news outlets were set up to film the entire thing. It wasn’t every day a mother wanted to quadruple the amount of children she had, but Jessica wasn’t your average mother.

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The session went perfectly, the judge fell in love with the kids just as Jessica did, and he granted her full legal custody. As you can imagine, there were hugs and high-fives all around the courtroom.

Facebook / Jessica Benzakein

After the flowing tears of joy were wiped away (that took a while to happen), Jessica and her new legal children posed for a fantastic photo at the head of the courtroom where her dream came true.

Facebook / Jessica Benzakein

That wasn’t the only place where she felt the full support of those around her. During a Milwaukee Bucks NBA game, Jessica was recognized during halftime for being an “everyday hero.”

Life was business as usual for the Benzakein family, except now all eight children were actually theirs. Even though it didn’t physically feel different, every day was made a little more special.

Twitter / Jessica Benzakein

Jessica said, “Everybody tells me how lucky these kids are and what a good thing I did. But… they grounded me. I went through my 20s thinking I didn’t really need a family. But I did. They give me purpose.”

What Jessica did for those six boys was something most couldn’t even imagine. It’s never easy to bring older kids into an already established family, but with the power love, anything can happen.

Just ask Ben Carpenter. Some men choose to go about their twenties with overt ferocity, having nothing but partying and fun on the mind (with maybe a dash of career ambition). But Ben Carpenter was a bit different than your average twenty-something-year-old dude.

Filosofa’s Word

You see, Ben was always an old soul, having consistently dreamed of being a father rather than, say, a football player. “Even at the age of 21 I knew I wanted to be a father as soon as possible,” Ben had confessed to the Mirror.

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As weird as it may sound to some, Ben may have been born for adoptive fatherhood, considering his nurturing past: he worked alongside adults and children with special needs, which only strengthened his burning desire to nurture another being of his own.

Based on his learning experiences, Ben was confident in his abilities to take proper care of a disabled child; in fact, he thought it was the right thing for him to do. But, he anticipated one particular problem in making his long-awaited dream a reality…

Entertainment Daily

The Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, resident was apprehensive about how his single status would appear from the perspective of eager adoption agencies. Would social workers even give him the time of day?

“I like to do my own thing. At the end of the day, I like a cup of tea and a slice of cake and to not listen to someone snoring,” the independent Brit snarkily said of his personal life. Relationships just never interested Ben, but fatherhood always had.

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Despite this pang of doubt, nothing was to stop young Ben from fulfilling what he believed was his destiny. In truth, it took Ben a grueling three years to convince the authorities that he was even serious about adopting, not to mention his ability to act as a suitable dad.

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Once social workers started taking Ben seriously, however, his charm and philanthropic appetite to care for a special needs child wowed them! Their previous assumptions about the persistent fellow were undoubtedly wrong.

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“I told them who I was and where I worked and they were really positive and quite enthusiastic about me adopting a child,” Ben explained. Still, applying for a special needs child and actually caring for one were two separate challenges.

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The first child he successfully adopted was Ruby, which made Ben one of the youngest gay men to adopt a child in Yorkshire. At the time, Ruby was wheelchair bound, hooked up to a feeding machine, and couldn’t speak. “She looked a very sorry little girl. She was petrified and shaking and it broke my heart,” Ben explained.

The Sun

With Ben’s patience and dedication, she miraculously started eating and walking again. To clarify, she would still have life-long needs, but that never scared Ben Carpenter, whose paternal heart only grew bigger and bigger…

Over the course of nearly a decade, Ben, who has been donned “super dad” by media outlets, went on to adopt a grand total of five sweet disabled children: Ruby, Jack, Lily, Joseph, and baby Noah, who has a rare genetic disorder, Cornelia de Lange syndrome.

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Aside from Noah’s syndrome, which comes with physical, cognitive, and medical difficulties, his adopted angels have disabilities including autism, down syndrome, scoliosis, and Pierre Robin syndrome, which generates developmental defects. None of these hurdles ever stifled Ben’s love, though.

He said he “wouldn’t change a thing” about his kids. Meanwhile, he spoke very openly of his positive feelings regarding adoption. “They are no longer in the care system and they have your surname,” he said. “As a parent, that is a wonderful feeling. For the child — if they are aware — it is a feeling of security.”

Entertainment Daily

Ben’s refreshing enthusiasm to adopt disabled children in need differs from the mindset of most keen adopters, who often prefer what Ben calls the “Angelina Jolie or Madonna adoption” route, which usually involves “perfect,” healthy babies.

Unfortunately, many children over the age of four and those with disabilities are not usually adopters’ first choices, making it a struggle for them to be placed in a forever home. Ben knows, however, that “perfection” comes in unique forms — and people have been paying attention.

The super dad’s public outspokenness, via television networks, community groups, and news sites, concerning the benefits and rewarding facets of adoption didn’t go unnoticed. He was even awarded for his persistent efforts to educate the public.

Examiner Live

Fittingly, in 2018, the 33-year-old was named “adopter extraordinaire” by the British Citizenship Awards. The BCA granted him a “Medal of Honour,” inscribed with the words “For the Good of the Country.” But receiving a medal doesn’t necessarily mark the finale of Ben’s do-good actions…

“If in the future a child really needed me and my help, I’m sure I would end up adopting them,” Ben confidently told the Mirror. Even if adopting a sixth child (goodness gracious) isn’t in the cards for Ben, he absolutely wishes to foster more children.

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Being a single father to one child is hard enough, let alone five with special needs. Luckily, were he to run into struggles, either emotional or financial, he had some other families he could look to for help.

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For instance, Hannah Fouche is 10 years old, but taking care of her isn’t like taking care of a 10-year-old. It’s like taking care of a toddler. Her parents, Tim and Vicki, don’t mind dedicating their life to their daughter, but it sure feels like an uphill battle.

Hannah has a condition called Cerebral Palsy, which is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain during birth or pregnancy. There are many different forms and degrees, but Hannah’s is on the more serious side of the spectrum.

While some people with C.P. can walk, talk, and move around without too many hiccups, others are bound to wheelchairs and can’t speak. Unfortunately, Hannah falls into the latter category — but it doesn’t bring her down!

She has the cognitive abilities to communicate; she just can’t actually form words. She uses an app on her iPad to speak for her. It’s an invaluable tool that she often uses to ask for pretzel bites.

Unfortunately, Hannah’s physical challenges mean that Vicki and Tim have to care for her 24/7, and that includes everything from bathing to meal time. They carry her down the hallway and lift her into her safety bed. It isn’t an easy job, and it gets even tougher…

When Tim isn’t taking care of his daughters, he’s working a full-time job as a private construction manager, where he makes under $45,000 per year. It’s the family’s only source of income, as Vicki stays at home to teach the girls.

The oldest Fouche daughter, Bethany, has already moved out, but Vicki and Tim took in their teenage niece last year, so they remain a family of five. This means stretching every penny is their only option. A child with a disability requires a lot of pennies.

“I work hard,” Tim says. “As a husband and a dad, you try to maintain a balance of working and being there for your family, too. When you do that and you still feel like you’re falling short at the end of the month… it gets frustrating sometimes.”

Even though Tim has a lot of experience in his field, it’s not a good idea for him to get a job that pays more. The family depends on Medicaid and Social Security to cover Hannah’s expenses, and if Tim got a higher salary, they could lose the benefits.

“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” Vicki says. The benefits currently cover home-schooling expenses, treatments, therapy, and equipment like an electric wheelchair, a walker, and the iPad that allows her to communicate.

Despite Vicki’s brilliant budgeting, the Fouches are $15,000 in debt due to unexpected emergencies like having their mini-van fixed and a lack of reimbursements for Hannah. “We never have money to save,” Vicki says. “We’re lucky we have enough to pay our bills.”

Each week, Hannah sees a speech, physical, and occupational therapist. She also participates in therapeutic horseback riding. Because of assistance, the Fouches don’t have to pay out of pocket for any of that.

Still, not all the covered expenses are great. Hannah’s shower chair is uncomfortable, and her diapers often leak. Even her electric wheelchair, which is vital to her mobility, has malfunctioned many times.

One thing the family really wants for Hannah is a mobile stander, which would support her to stand up straight and even walk a bit, but Medicaid will not cover it since she already has an electric wheelchair. They have to pick their battles.

When the family falls financially short for Hannah’s expenses, they often raise funds by selling bracelets or Girl Scout Cookies. The rest is paid with the Fouches’ tax return, but it never lasts the year.

Though Vicki does a lot for her family, she sometimes feels bad that she can’t earn an income. However, Tim says he’s very thankful for the role she’s taken on. “It’s worth a lot for her to be with our children, and give them a good education,” he says.

The Fouches try to make sure Mikayla gets to have hobbies such as gymnastics and T-ball, but it’s not always possible. They had to charge T-ball fees to their credit card. They pay per class for gymnastics, and when money is tight, they’ll skip it for the week.

As for the future, well, nothing is certain. It may not seem like it, but Hannah has already made great strides. She can sit up unassisted (before, her body wasn’t strong enough to support itself), and she has even participated in the Special Olympics!

But even with intensive physical and speech therapy, chances are likely that Hannah will never be truly independent. “If we could have one wish for her… I would really hope at some point that she could be able to speak,” Vicki says.

One thing Vicki and Tim do know is that they never want to place Hannah in a nursing home. Overall, their greatest hope for their daughter is one most parents have for their child: “We just want her to have as good of a life as she can,” they said.

The same goes for Jeff and Julie Bryan, who had a flood of happiness rush at them on the day their daughter Addie was born. That unbridled joy that day didn’t last long, however. Addie almost didn’t make it.

The moment they laid eyes on Addie, the Bryans saw something was wrong. Their baby had hip dysplasia, a club foot, and two knees that bent backward. With a rare case of Larsen syndrome, the doctors doubted she’d ever walk.

Just days old, Addie underwent her first surgery. Dozens and dozens more followed over the next few years, with the Bryans estimating that their daughter went through 70 casts throughout her early childhood.

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The Bryans placed their full faith in the staff of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, located near their home in Dallas. Over the years, it built a sterling reputation for treating orthopedic conditions, particularly in children.

After years of medical intervention, there still wasn’t assurance that Addy would be able to lead a normal childhood. But amid all the darkness, the Bryans still clung tightly to a glimmer of hope — one member especially.

By the time she reached seven years old, Addy didn’t see herself as any different from other kids. She made the best of everything, despite her situation. Soon, her results began to impress everyone around her.

Though her legs still retained a slightly bent shape, Addie’s range of movement grew by leaps and bounds. Before long, she started to spend more time zipping around on her scooter than cooped up in the hospital.

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And that wasn’t all. She could even run! Everyone understood that she had come an incredibly long way from her troubled infancy. There was no doubt about Addie’s good fortune, but something started to nag at her.

Julie Bryan

With her eighth birthday approaching, Addie knew she was incredibly lucky. Thanks to the folks at Scottish Rite Hospital, she could run, walk, and jump wherever she wanted. Addie only hoped every other kid could do the same.

One morning, Julie Bryan found her daughter tallying up her meager life’s savings. Addie shocked her by saying that she wasn’t just doing this for fun. She was looking to make a donation.

Addie wanted to make a real difference for the Scottish Rite Hospital in the form of a donation. Her mom suggested she open a lemonade stand with a couple of friends to raise more money, but ultimately, that tactic only raised $60.

Parents Magazine

So, knowing she needed to get more aggressive, she grabbed a marker and some poster board and drew up a sign requesting donations for the hospital. Then, she ran out to her street corner in hopes of collecting a fortune.

Despite the sweltering Texas heat, Addie had an easy time standing on the corner once she saw the contributions roll in. Neighbors and complete strangers alike seemed happy to help out even if it was with just a few dollars.

After a couple of months, Addie had built up a nice pile of money. Still, she was really looking to make a big fundraising lead in the final weeks before her birthday. Addie thought she could expand her operations beyond the street corner.

ABC News

Addie and her parents reached out to a local restaurant called the Cotton Patch Cafe. They agreed to hold a charity event, and Addie went all out! Channeling her inner Pat Sajak, she set up a wheel of prizes to pack the house.

By the time her eighth birthday rolled around, Addie raised a whopping $19,500 for the hospital. For an institution that relied so much on charitable donations, this was huge. Not even Addie’s parents could believe she singlehandedly raised such a sum.

Her efforts gained a lot of attention. A number of outlets shared her story, from her local news station to People magazine! A live TV interview was a good birthday present, to be sure, but Addie was about to get a better one.

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Stephanie Brigger, the hospital’s Vice President of Development, called the Bryans to share some big news: an anonymous donor felt so touched by Addie’s story that he decided to share a contribution of his own.

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The Good Samaritan sent Scottish Rite an additional $50,000 in Addie’s name. That meant this 8-year-old’s donation totaled just under 70k! Most people couldn’t believe it, but this was exactly what Addie wanted.

She said she was glad to give so many other kids a shot at a happy life, as her gift could provide countless casts and prosthetics. Addie Bryan didn’t need anything else for her birthday. She proved that the best gift is giving back.

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