In part one of her series of reports on the topic of adoption in Maine, Joy Hollowell introduces us to a family whose adopted several children featured on our bi-monthly Thursday’s Child segments.
We first met Jesse back in 2006. The teenager wanted to be a meteorologist when he grew up, but first, Jesse wanted a family to call his own.
Two years later, Jesse’s got a mom and a dad, as well as 14 brothers and sisters. Nearly all of them have been adopted by Belinda and Larry. The Calais couple raised two biological children, whom are now in their 30’s. When their kids started getting older, the couple decided their house felt too empty.
BELINDA: ":So we just decided that we would do foster care. So in 6 months, we had five foster kids.":
The kids lived with Belinda and Larry for three years, until they became eligible for adoption. At that point, the couple made a choice that would change their lives forever.
BELINDA: ":We just decided that we couldn’t let them go.":
That was 16 years ago. Since then, Belinda and Larry have added eight more children to their brood, including Jesse and Logan, another Thursday’s Child.
BELINDA: ":It’s addicting, it really is.
JOY: ":I mean, if someone had told you at the beginning, you’ll have adopted 11…":
BELINDA: ":I would have told them they were nuts!":
Belinda and Larry’s adopted kids range in age from 9 to 24, and all of them have special needs. Which is something the couple says can be tamed with lots of love.
BELINDA: ":With Logan, when he came, he couldn’t sit at the table. But once he was adopted, he was able to settle down. He has just learned so much, has so much confidence, has learned compassion, which was something logan did not have.":
Belinda says she also saw a change with jesse after his adoption was complete.
BELINDA: ":We don’t see the anger outbursts anymore. There’s just a settling in, somebody wants me, somebody loves me.":
JESSE: ":The first time I came here, my mom told me, you’re going to be adopted and you’re going to have a lot of brothers and sisters, my face dropped. And I was so happy that I have brothers that care about me and a family who loves me.":
These parents admit it can be exhausting raising such a large family…especially with just two bathrooms. But…
BELINDA: ":When you get 16 good night hugs and then they come back for the second round because they don’t want to go to bed.":
And, if you think the couple is done adopting, think again.
BELINDA: ":No, I have a spare bed and I’m really trying to fill it.":