Single Mom of 2 Who Grew Up in Foster Care Adopts 6 Boys To Keep Siblings Together

Jessica Jessica Benzakein

On any given day, there are more than 440,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. And it wasn't too long ago that Jessica Benzakein was one of them. At 12 years old, Benzakein's mother lost custody of her, which turned her world upside down. She was "too old" to be desirable to adoptive couples, yet too young to strike out on her own. So, for the next six years, she bounced from foster home to foster home, until she finally turned 18. But as Benzakein recently told Today, she never forgot the pain of feeling abandoned and the loneliness of not having a family -- which is what eventually called her to one day foster herself.

  • About five years ago, Benzakein took in two sets of brothers, six boys in total, who were all in need of a good home.

    The siblings, which include Will, 18; Carter, 14; Sidney, 13; and Buddy, 8; as well as Kendrich, 6; and T.J., 4; instantly bonded with Benzakein's biological children, Eli, 14, and Brenna, 9, whom she shares with her ex-husband.

    Taking on multiple foster kids at once would be overwhelming for any single parent -- but taking on six when you already have two of your own? That's a pretty commendable feat.

    Still, Benzakein insists that despite all the chaos, there's also a lot of laughter, and the kids bring more joy to her life than they could ever know.

    “Everybody tells me how lucky these kids are and what a good thing I did,” Benzakein told Today. “But ... I’m going to cry ... they grounded me. I went through my 20s thinking I didn’t really need a family. But I did. They give me purpose.”

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  • And now, they're officially a "forever family" in the eyes of the law.

    Before a Milwaukee courtroom on Friday, the Hon. Mark A. Sanders asked Benzakein one simple question: "Do you think it’s in their best interest that you be their mom?”

    “I think we are pretty good together," she said, without hesitating.

    The six brothers all agreed.

     "I don't know if I'm the best mom, but I'm their best mom," she later added. "I love 'em."

  • It's clear that the brothers are feeling that love too.

    "I feel like this is the best choice that I could have," Sidney told WISN.

    "The whole adoption thing doesn't really matter, because we consider each other as a family no matter what," added his brother Carter.

    As for Benzakein, she admits that it can be tough raising so many kids under one roof, but for anyone considering adoption and/or foster care, it's well worth it.

    "Some days you go to bed thinking, 'I survived, and that's the only win, so I'll take it,'" she said. "But you get up the next morning and you go, 'Alright, you know, let's do this.'"