Jeane Briggs and her husband, Paul, have five biological children and 29 adopted ones. Taking in orphans, especially those with health problems or disabilities, is ‘what my husband and I feel called to do by our faith,’ the 58-year-old told The News. And there are plans to continue to expand the family.
Think the holidays are chaotic at your house? Imagine celebrating with 34 children — all of whom are your own.
Jeane Briggs, 58, and her husband Paul, 59, have five biological children and 29 adopted ones.
The Briggs kids are between ages 35 and 4 . While they don’t all live at the family home in Falling Waters, W.Va., there are still plenty of mouths to feed.
Thanksgiving involves peeling more than 25 pounds of potatoes and preparing two 25-pound turkeys in addition to ham and other sides.
“If I want leftovers I have to add a third turkey,” Jeane Briggs told the Daily News.
You can say that the stay-at-home mother has a big family, but she has a bigger heart.
Her adopted children hail from Mexico, Ghana, Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria, and many of them had medical problems or learning disabilities or were considered hard to place. The Briggs family includes polio and cancer survivors, children with autism and those who were abandoned.
“It’s not for everybody, but it’s what my husband and I feel called to do by our faith,” Briggs, a devout Christian, told The News, adding that she always dreamed of having a large family.
After she met Paul at a Christian camp when she was 14, she asked him to help her babysit to see how he was with children. He passed with flying colors.
They have been together for 43 years and will celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary in December.
“I married the right guy,” she said.
Briggs was drawn to adoption after she and Paul started their family. A few months after she suffered a miscarriage, she heard about a church mission trip to an orphanage in Mexico to help a blind toddler who had suffered brain damage after being abused.
Briggs signed up for the trip and met 2-year-old Abraham, who is now 31. She knew she wanted to bring him home and take care of him.
“I had a sense that he was in danger,” Briggs said.
Almost three decades later, members of the Briggs family are still opening their hearts and homes to ailing orphans of all ages. In fact, they are in the process of adopting two more children from Ghana, which would bring the total to 36 — excluding grandchildren.
The baby boys, Kofi and David, are both infants with orthopedic issues — Kofi is missing his legs and most of his arms, while David is missing his feet and also needs surgery on his tongue.
“I love kids,” Briggs said. “I love playing with them. I love listening to them. I get so much love and joy from kids and I think they are a blessing.”
So, how does the family afford to raise so many children?
Briggs explained that the company her husband works for offers good health care coverage, which helps with medical issues and surgeries.
The company also has “great HR benefits for families when you adopt,” she said. The family is given $10,000 per child per adoption, which Briggs said helps with the fees.
Even though she has bad days, Briggs says her life is “exciting” because she gets to do something she is passionate about.
“I don’t believe everyone could or has to be like me, but I am doing what I was created to do,” she said.
The Briggs family’s story was featured on TODAY.com in honor of National Adoption Month.
Click here to read more.