Jessica Benzakein grew up in the foster care system after her mother terminated her parental rights when she was 12. She bounced around from home to home and was separated from her brother, so as an adult she wanted to foster older sibling sets to help keep them together.
In 2015, The 46-year-old Wisconsin mom of two biological kids,Eli, 14, andBrenna, 9, started fostering brothersKendrich, now six, andTerell“T.J.,” now four. Soon after she added four more boys who are related by blood,Will, now 18,Carter, now 14,Sidney, now 13, andMarkell“Buddy,” who’s now eight. And she just officially adopted all six boys, so they’ll get to stay with her permanently in the family they’ve built together.
“Everybody tells me how lucky these kids are and what a good thing I did,” Benzakein says. “But… they grounded me. I went through my 20s thinking I didn’t really need a family. But I did. They give me purpose.”