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Photographer: Ilyssa Maisano at Three Babies Photography.

Our adoption journey began when I was shown a picture of a baby boy abandoned on a public bus in the Dominican Republic. I looked at my husband and our three daughters, ages 8, 6, and 2, our house, our two cars, and all of the luxuries we had in comparison to these children being abandoned. We had it all while they were living under bridges in extreme poverty, and we knew that we had something more to give.

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In researching the options for adoption, we landed in a class about foster care and immediately knew this was the right path for us and our family. We didn’t need to fly across the world to help a child because there are kids right here where we live. There are over 7,000 children in foster care in New Jersey alone—and not enough homes to place them in. We had our home licensed and put in our “request:” We’d like a boy (we already had three girls, after all), and we would like him to be a baby (so much easier, we thought!). So imagine the shock when the phone call came that there was a 7-year-old boy who, along with his twin 6-year-old sisters, needed a home. We were the last phone call on their list before splitting them up. We said yes.

The kids arrived in October 2010, and there was an instant bond between our children. This was such a blessing during this whirlwind time of adjusting to a family of eight. To say that we were not prepared for three additional children would be an understatement! Our minivan was instantly too small to take our family anywhere. My pots were too small to make a meal for us. We moved our 2-year-old into our bedroom to make room for the twin girls we didn’t know were coming. Eight of us cramming into one bathroom to brush our teeth. And the laundry! Oh, the laundry!

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Then there was the matter of their permanency. For the next year and a half, we lived in a sort of limbo as we battled in court and fought to keep these kids. Were they staying? Were they going? We were trying to parent and love them, all along knowing they might leave. We pleaded for the chance to give these kids the stability that they so desperately needed. All our struggles came to an end on the Thursday before Mother’s Day 2012, when my husband walked with the birth mother to the courthouse as she did the bravest, most selfless thing a mother can do: sacrifice her own desires for her children. She surrendered her rights as a mother and named us as the family to adopt her children.

Our adoption was finalized almost a year later, in February of 2013. It was a celebration—the closing of one chapter of our family’s life and the beginning of a new one. The kids beamed as they got to tell the judge their new names: our son choosing his dads middle name as his own and the twins choosing “Hope” and “Faith,” the two things that carried us through it all.

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