A West Michigan family has finalized their adoption of six siblings from the same family. Gabrielle and Shannon Fessenden first started their adoption journey in 2012 with their two biological children Scott and Gianna.
"I always knew I wanted children. I didn't know I wanted this many," mom Gabrielle joked.
She felt an instant connection after seeing three of their now children, Jordan, Jay and Maya, on the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange website.
"Found their picture on my lunch break one day at work, and I thought, these kids are going to be separated. They need a home and nobody will take them. I went home and talked to him [Shannon] and I thought he was going to tell me I was crazy, and he was like 'those are our kids,'" Gabrielle said.
The family teamed up with Samaritas, Michigan’s largest private foster care and adoption agency, and started the process of bringing the kids into their home. It wasn't until after that they found out their newest family additions have more family of their own. All together there were six biological siblings ages two through 15.
"Their other biological siblings came along as the years went on. We didn’t necessarily plan on continuing to adopt, but we were open to that. That was our hearts' desire to keep them together as siblings when they moved in," said Gabrielle.
It took from 2012 to 2019 for all six siblings to be successfully adopted into the Fessenden home. The parents said each case was unique and some adoptions took longer than others.
"I remember sitting in the car, just looking over, just staring for as long as I could just trying to get to know him," Scott said about his brother Jordan.
They add that life with eight kids isn't always easy, noting that things like grocery shopping were once a difficult feat. However, with the kids growing older, Gabrielle said they enjoy stepping in to take care of their younger siblings, which helps the ship run smoothly.
"Now you have the older sisters that help the little ones get their shoes on in the morning, so there are those little blessings," she explained, adding that her friends and community support outside the home has been a big help.
"It definitely takes a village, and we are not afraid to say that," said Gabrielle.
While she and Shannon joke that everyday life is "mass chaos," they say it's worth it for the relationships and love inside the home.
"You’ll never regret loving a child at the end of the day; you just don’t. I don’t think there’s ever been a minute, where even on our worst day ever, we’ve have sat down and said 'what did we do?' Never. These kids are a love and a joy and they’ve blessed us far more than we’ve blessed them. It’s hard to remember life before them," Gabrielle said.
For more information on adoptions like the Fessenden family's, click here. November is National Adoption Month.
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