SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — A local family of eight is so grateful to be starting the new year as an official family.
Their home and their hearts are full as they celebrate the gift of adoption.
Six kids later, a lot has changed for parents John and Betty over the past six years.
"It's a big responsibility but it's certainly a blessing," said John.
A blessing - that was born out of their desire to bring the laughter and love of children into their world.
"Like a lot of older couples who marry later in life, we tried to have children, and adoption was our only way to have a family," said Betty.
Betty and John first turned to San Diego County adoptions - and were approved, but their plans to adopt locally took an unexpected turn when their pastor from Chicago told them about four siblings who needed a forever home.
"And we said, 'we'll take them,'" said Betty. "We didn't know what they were, what ages, we just said, 'we'll take them.'"
A couple years later, the family received an email from San Diego County asking for foster families to take in children living in the emergency children's shelter.
"It said 'two adorable boys,'" said Betty. "And I said, 'Hey John, we have an extra bedroom. Why don't we take them and give them a good home for a while?'"
Once again, their plans took an unexpected twist when the two biological brothers became available for adoption.
"So, they came, and they never left," said Betty.
Just two months ago, the boys' adoption was finalized..
"It was a very fun day," said one of the boys.
"They help us learn a lot about ourselves, that there's more to life than just doing things for yourself - and blessings come to you if you do things for other people," said John.
The kids say having so many siblings, means a house full of love.
Big sister Dora is truthful as she is thankful.
"It's fun - they're a little annoying and stuff - but it always gives us something to do and we're never bored [because] we have playmates 24/7," she said.
The children also appreciate knowing their history.
"We're in touch with all the birth families - all the birth mothers and all the birth fathers and grandparents," said Betty. "And it's been good for them."
"I feel love from my siblings, my adoptive mom and dad, and my birth grandma, family," said one of John and Betty's sons.
John and Betty encourage others to consider adoption and simply take that first step to learn more.
"If they would just take a chance, have a little bit of faith, they would bring so much to these kids," said John.
If you are interested in adopting or becoming a foster family, please call 1-877-I-ADOPT-U or click here to access the free orientation schedule.
View more incredible Adopt 8 stories at the link below.