Former Foster Child Adopts Two Sets of Siblings
Her own background in the foster system inspired her to act.
Jessica Benzakein knows what it's like to not have a family.
She became a foster child at age 12 when her mother gave up her parental rights. Because she was considered “too old" to be adopted, Benzakein went into foster care where she stayed until she was 18 and left for college. She remembers staying on campus by herself one Christmas because she had nowhere else to go.
“You're expected to leave, but I didn't have anywhere to go," Benzakein told MSN. “So, I paid to stay in a room the size of a guest closet."
Last week, the mom of two adopted 6 boys after years of fostering children in her home. The four older boys, Will, 18, Carter, 14, Sidney, 13, and Markell “Buddy," 8, are siblings, and the two younger ones are blood related as well, Kendrich, 6, and Terrell “T.J.," 4.
The boys join Benzakein's biological children, Eli, 14 and Brenna, 9, who she shares with her ex-husband.
Benzakein knew it was important to keep the siblings together, as she was separated from her own brother by the foster system.
“In Wisconsin alone, we have over 7,000 foster kids," Benzakein said. “The number of sibling sets is crazy high, and they're often broken up."
Benzakein made her family official last Friday at Milwaukee County Children's Court, where Judge Mark Sanders approved her request for adoption.
"Good things don't always happen in court, so when they do, they absolutely must be acknowledged," Sanders said.
Once the proceeding was over, all eight of Benzakein's children were smiling ear-to-ear as they grouped together to bang the gavel.
The boys had been living with Benzakein since 2015, so the only thing that really changed for them was the law.
“We've been living like a family for a long time," Benzakein said. “But now, no one can tell us we're not."
Benzakein hopes that she will inspire others to consider fostering and adopting children – especially since the need is always there.
"Six kids got adopted today, but there are over 7,000 kids in foster care and that number fluctuates," she said. “It's always going up. It never goes down, so there's still plenty of other kids out there who need homes."
We bet she'll never spend another Christmas alone again.
Inspired by Benzakein's incredible act of kindness? You can find out more about fostering a child (or multiple children!) by checking out organizations like Bethany and The National Foster Parent Association . You can also do a google search to find a foster information session near you. Let's #StartSomethingGood together.