A family of three in Georgia became a family of 10 when they adopted seven siblings who spent nearly their entire lives in foster care.
Josh and Jessaka Clark, of Rincon, are now not just the parents of their 3-year-old son, Noah, but also Maria, 14, Elizabet, 11, Guillermo, 10, Jason, 8, Kristina, 7, Katerin, 7, and James, 5.
“It was full of emotion,” Jessaka Clark, 25, told ABC News of Tuesday’s adoption ceremony. “Honestly it’s still surreal to me.”
The seven siblings, whom the Clarks dubbed the “super seven,” first entered their new family’s lives in April 2016 as foster children.
Clark said she and her husband both knew they wanted to adopt children when they got married five years ago. More than two years after she gave birth to Noah, Clark watched as her husband got a call from a case manager about taking in the seven siblings.
“Josh hung up the phone and said, ‘What do you think of seven?’ and I said, ‘A 7-year-old?,’ and he said, ‘No, seven kids,’” Clark recalled. “We prayed about it that night and woke up and said the same thing to each other, ‘If not us, then who?’”
The “super seven” siblings, who previously lived in a children’s home together, moved into the Clarks’ three-bedroom home in August 2016.
“The hardest part to get used to actually was having school-age kids,” Clark said. “I remember the first time they came home with homework and I had to figure out how to help six kids with their homework.”
She continued, “We didn’t get done with homework until 8 p.m. that night but we finally figured out a routine.”
The family saw their way through hardships, especially with the older children, whom Clark said worried their new home would not be their forever home.
“They are excited and now know they’re loved and know that this is it,” said Clark, whose parents were foster parents. “We’ve seen a change in behavior even since the adoption, a turn to, ‘I don’t have to keep my bags packed.’”
The siblings’ ability to stay in one home made for an easier transition to their permanent home, according to a spokeswoman for the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, the state agency that represented the children in the adoption.
“The Clarks are an exceptional couple who understood the importance of siblings remaining together and were committed to making that happen for these seven children from the beginning,” Susan Boatwright said in a statement to ABC News. “Siblings who are adopted together are able to maintain an important family bond and tend to have an easier time transitioning to a new home in what would otherwise be a difficult time in their lives.”
“This month as we celebrate National Foster Care Month, we celebrate families such as the Clarks who open their hearts to provide loving homes to children in need,” the statement read. “We hope others will be inspired to do the same.”
Clark, a stay-at-home mom, and her husband, who works in the finance department of a local motorcycle dealership, have been embraced by their friends and church community, who donated nearly everything they needed to bring all seven children home.
They are hoping to move to a bigger home because, even with eight kids in total, the Clarks hope to adopt again.
“The way my husband and I see it is there are roughly 13,000 kids in foster care in Georgia and around 1,200 waiting to be adopted,” Clark said. “We don’t know how we could close our door when those kids are out there.”