Christmas came early for seven siblings after an Arkansas couple fought to adopt them out of the state’s foster care system.
An Arkansas court finalized the adoption this month for the couple, Terri and Michael Hawthorn, who fought for months to ensure all seven children had a place to call home.
The Hawthorns initially decided to become foster parents several years ago but did not think they were ready to adopt at the time.
“Our first words were, ‘Ok we’ll do it for a couple of years, but we will not adopt,’” said mother Terri Hawthorn.
The couple changed their minds in April when they welcomed two siblings, Korgen and Haizlee. But the Hawthorns overcame their biggest obstacle in the courts after a judge approved their request to adopt the five other siblings on December 3.
Before Terri and Michael welcomed the siblings into their family, the seven children spent three years in foster care shuffling between different homes and schools.
The kids would often say they did not always have access to food or a bed to sleep in.
“The only times we got to eat is when our neighbors would sneak us a bag of chips,” said Kyndal, one of the five siblings who joined the Hawthorn family in December. “We didn’t have a can opener, and they’d give us the cans that we didn’t know how to open. So sometimes we just didn’t eat.”
“When I got here I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we get our own beds,’” said Layna, another one of the five siblings who joined the family.
Micah, the eldest sibling who is Terri and Michael’s daughter by birth, posted several pictures on Facebook welcoming her adopted siblings to the family.
Terri Hawthorn says she is grateful for the additional family members.
“They are a blessing,” she said. “Every day these kids wake up, and they are giggling, and they are happy, and you see the smiles on their faces, that’s what makes this worth it.”
The siblings are also thankful, saying it was “the best Christmas” for knowing they have a home.
“This has been the best Christmas I could ever have, actually knowing I have a mom and dad,” Kyndal said.