Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who will reportedly be President Donald Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court, has already faced criticism from the left about her large family and her two adopted children from Haiti.
Barrett is married to Jesse Barrett and is the mother of seven children, two of them adopted from Haiti.
She has five biological children, Emma, Tess, Liam, Juliet, and Benjamin, a special needs child with Down syndrome. Her adopted children, Vivian and John Peter, are from Haiti.
Barrett spoke about her family in a conversation with Notre Dame in 2019.
She explained that they were inspired by parents who adopted a special needs child and another couple who adopted children from Russia.
“We knew that we wanted to adopt internationally. The wait for domestic adoption was just very, very, long,” she explained, noting that Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
The couple adopted Vivian at 14 months after they had two children of their own.
Barrett explained that when Vivian came into their family, she was in poor health.
Vivian is amazing. She was 14-months-old when she came home, and she couldn’t make any sounds at that point, nor could she pull herself up to a standing position, and she was wearing size 0-3 month clothing because she was just so malnourished. At the time they told us they just weren’t sure whether she would speak. She had been so sick she hadn’t had a lot of practice making sounds and hadn’t been spoken to a lot. She was just weak and she had rickets [disease] so her legs were kind of bowed out.
Barrett said that Vivian’s health was fully restored as she grew.
“Vivian is incredibly athletic now and trust me, speech hasn’t been a problem,” she laughed, noting that her daughter “works out at a crossfit gym and she’s incredibly strong.”
“I was just looking at her the other day at the gym and just thinking what a miracle it is how strong she’s become,” Barrett said.
She had her son Liam and then worked to adopt another child.
Barrett explained that they wanted to adopt another child from Haiti but that “paperwork snafus” kept them from moving forward.
“Mentally and emotionally we had closed that door,” she said, recalling that they had given up on the idea.
Barrett explained, however, that the devastating earthquake in January 2010 led the State Department to loosen the amount of paperwork for adoptions.
The agency asked them to take a child, but at the same time she discovered that she was pregnant with Juliet.
“We had an intense three hour period where we had to decide whether we would go forward,” she recalled. “We had really wanted five, but now it was kind of like five and six.”
Barrett recalled the moment when she walked to the cemetery on campus at Notre Dame as she was thinking about her decision.
“I thought what greater thing can you do than raise children? That’s where you have your greatest impact on the world,” she recalled thinking.
The family adopted John Peter from Haiti at the age of three.
Barrett’s seventh child, Benjamin, had Down syndrome, she explained, presenting its own set of challenges.
“It’s a very full life, but a very wonderful one,” she said.
Barrett said that she and her husband juggled family duties and that her husband’s aunt also helped with childcare.
“It’s very much a team effort,” she said. “In fact right now, I’m in a job that is still new to me … so Jesse is doing much more of the heavy lifting right now.”