Do you think you come from a large family?
Well, think again because you probably don’t have 37 siblings!
But that’s just everyday life for Jeane and Paul Briggs’s children, 32 of whom are adopted.
Jeane and Paul have a total of 38 children — 6 biological and 32 adopted — and are always on the lookout for more. Adoption is their passion and they consider it their personal ministry.
Jeane has had an amazing heart for adoption ever since she was a teenager.
“I guess all my life, even as a child, I knew I would adopt and have a large family,” she admitted. She knew her future partner would have to be on board with her dreams.
When she met Paul at a Christian summer camp, the two teenagers were instantly attracted to one another. “At the very first day, first workshop, I noticed her,” Paul said. “She noticed me, and we found reasons to talk and from that very first day, we’ve been together.”
The two believed that God had a plan for their future together, but Jeane still had to be sure.
“My first date with him was a babysitting job so I could tell if he would be good with kids,” Jeane laughed. “He was and the rest is history.”
Paul was ready to jump on board with Jeane’s passion, so once the two were married, they were immediately on the lookout for opportunities to adopt.
But it wasn’t until they had three biological children that they were first called to adopt.
Jeane was in Mexico on a mission trip when she met Abraham, a blind two-year-old boy. He “tugged at her heart,” and she told Paul about him as soon as she returned home.
Abraham was only their first adopted child and more additions to the Briggs family quickly followed.
Jeane and Paul have adopted children from countries all over the world including Russia, Ukraine, Ghana, and Bulgaria, and they have a particular passion for medically fragile children.
Jeane was a nurse at the beginning of their marriage so she has a lot of experience seeing unsupported children in the medical system and answering health questions from social workers.
“That’s probably why we have so many kids,” she admitted.
She’s seen many orphans with difficult medical conditions, from heart disease to cleft lips. And in the process of referring them to the correct hospital or medical facility, has felt called to adopt them.
“For many of our children, we’ve given them the opportunity to live,” she said. “They would have died.”
This is especially true for the children adopted from other countries.
Joseph, who was adopted from Ukraine, said, “In the orphanage…you were on your own a lot of times. When you have a family, it’s different. You know you have somebody who loves you, cares for you, makes sure you are safe, you’re not hungry.”
Mya, who was adopted from Russia, added, “If I was in Russia, I probably would have died because I have had 12 families that rejected me because of my polio.”
“I know God brought them into my life for a reason and they have helped me this far,” Mya continued, speaking of Jeane and Paul. “They are amazing people.”
Jeane and Paul are an inspiration to many, but they acknowledge it hasn’t always been an easy road.
Their weekly food bill often adds up to $1100 — now that’s a big family!
It’s also difficult to keep so many children organized and get everyone where they need to be.
“We do have a system in place to help us take the burden off of how we manage these kids,” Jeane admitted. “Organization is good in a large family…they all know it’s necessary to be extremely organized or we’d have chaos.”
Jeane homeschools the children, running a tight ship while Paul is gone at work. The couple works hard to keep the household organized and get their children the medication and care they need.
Above all, though, Jeane and Paul strive to make sure each child knows they are loved.
“We love them. And they know we love them,” Jeane said confidently. “I have no doubt even the ones who struggle know we love them.”
Every child in the Briggs family knows how much their parents — and God — loves them. And that love has spilled over to Jeane and Paul’s adult children, some of whom have felt the call to adopt themselves.
“The family dynamic was ever changing with each new child they brought home,” admitted Mary Kate, one of the Briggs’ biological daughters. She has 11 biological and adopted children of her own.
“But it was always amazing to see my new brother or sister know what it was like to be loved and cared for, as they became a part of the family.”
“Faith has been the biggest motivation,” Jeane said, admitting that she and Paul couldn’t have done this on their own. “Every child should have a loving family.”
Jeane and Paul are truly a testament to God’s love for children. To find out more about their amazing work, visit their personal blog!
And don’t forget to keep the Briggs family in your prayers.