Christian Couple Adopts 29 Kids, Many with Deformities; 'Our Faith Is the Reason We Do This'

( [email protected] ) Nov 25, 2014 01:55 PM EST
The Briggs family - Adoption
Some of the Briggs' children and grandchildren are pictured in this photo from Easter 2014. Courtesy of Jeane Briggs

A Christian couple from Falling Water, West Virginia, understand the true meaning of Christ-like love, adopting an astonishing 29 children--many with special needs--into their family.

Paul and Jeane Briggs, who have five biological children, have adopted children since 1985 from countries around the world including Mexico, Ghana, Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Many of the children they adopt have learning disabilities and medical problems--including polio, Down Syndrome, autism, leg deformities and cancer-- or were considered hard to place.

"It's not for everybody, but it's what my husband and I feel called to do by our faith," Jeane told The News, adding that she always dreamed of having a large family.

The Briggs recently traveled to western Africa to bring home her latest child: Kofi, a baby with no legs and no hands who was found abandoned.

"I just enjoy it. This is my career. I say to my kids, you're the very air I breathe so I need you, I need that oxygen," Jeane told Today.

The Briggs also strive to teach their children about Jesus Christ; they say it is their hope that the children will come to have their own relationship with God, but they are not forcing anyone to make a decision they are not comfortable with.

"I don't believe everyone could or has to be like me, but I am doing what I was created to do," Jeane told the Daily News. "I love kids. 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."

The Brigg's children say they are incredibly thankful to their parents for the love and compassion they constantly show.

Joseph, 24, was adopted when he was 14 from Ukraine after his parents abandoned him. Because of his cleft lip and palate, he was often abused and mocked throughout his young life.

"It was hard to believe that someone wanted me with my problem," Joseph recalled about the moment he found out he would be adopted. "I can't repay them for what they did for me... I love my parents to the moon and back."

"I always wanted to have a mommy, daddy and a loving family. I love that they have a big heart to adopt, especially a 13-year-old teenage girl like me," added Catelyn Joy, who is now 22.

Despite the financial cost for having such a large family-- the Briggs spend $52,000 a year just on groceries--the couple say they put "no limit" on how many children they want.

"No. I still don't. It just happens that you know that these kids are your kids," she said. When she sees an orphan in need, she usually has the same reaction: "Nobody is going to want this child -- can we bring him home?"

Although life is often chaotic--from minor problems like things getting broken to more serious issues--the couple says their commitment one another provides the foundation for a stable home.

Jeane met Paul at a Christian camp when she was 14, and asked him to help her babysit to see how he was with children.

"He passed with flying colors...I married the right guy," she laughs.

They have been together for 43 years and will celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary in December.

But ultimately, the couple says their strong Christian faith supports them through even the toughest times--and when they think about their 34 precious children, they remember it's all worth it.

"Because we have seen what change in their life we can make,"says Jeane.

Tags : Adoption, Christian, adopt, the Briggs, Briggs family, faith