On Friday, October 27, in a Waukesha County Juvenile Courtroom, Lori and Dan O’Brien adopted 7-year-old twins Michael and Malachi and 12-year-old Isaiah. The O’Brien family of 16 grew to 19 with the bang of a gavel. Their kids range in age from 6 to 34. Thirteen of the children were adopted, three are biological, one is a nephew they raised, and two are fosters. Most of them were in attendance for the big event.

When Lori and Dan decided it was time to expand their family, they found the boys with the help of Sarah Badeau, the special needs adoption social worker at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Badeau spoke on behalf of the O’Briens’ experience with kids who have been victims of trauma. The brothers have some mental health and behavioral issues, as well as some cognitive delay. Dan is proud of the progress they have made in a short time, to which he credits his wife.

The couple was married 35 years ago. When their oldest child was young, she would frequently bring home “stray” kids. That’s what inspired them to get involved with foster care. A Swanson Elementary School teacher, Laura Shubert, knows the family well, as some of the children have been through her class. She shares in the excitement of the new additions. Michael, Malachi, and Isaiah enjoy school and say it helps them behave and make good choices.

The Brookfield community banded together to give the family a surprise trip to Wisconsin Dells. Great Wolf Resorts provided room deals, MagiQuest wands for the kids, and complimentary gameplay. The O’Briens also received a free Wake Up with Wiley breakfast package. The organization Hometown Heroes picked up the rest of the costs. Co-founder Neil Willenson said, “They are amazing and I’m happy to share in this day.”