Couple adopts 15-month-old twins they fostered at 1-month-old originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com
Jenny and Cullen Hall's family of four became a family of six with the adoption ceremony at a courthouse in Hennepin County, Minnesota. The adoption came just in time for the Halls to celebrate their first Thanksgiving and first Christmas together as a "forever family."
"They add so much joy to our family," Jenny Hall, 36, told "Good Morning America" of 15-month-old Charlotte and Titus. "I feel like I’ve been more blessed than any of the kids who have come through my home."
The Halls had been Charlotte and Titus's foster parents since September of last year, when they brought them home from shelter care at 1-month-old.
"I went to the shelter home and picked them up and I was just like, 'Oh my gosh, those are my babies,'" Hall said. "I didn't know for how long but I knew I could be their mom for however long needed."
The Halls, who live in a Minneapolis suburb, had no idea how long the twins would stay with them and their two older children, Eleanor, 8, and Nehemiah, 7, whom they adopted last year after two years as his foster parents.
When they learned a few months later the twins would be available for adoption, Jenny, a midwife, and Cullen, an electrical engineer, decided to formally adopt them, much to the delight of Eleanor and Nehemiah.
"They said to us, 'I can’t believe they’re going to be with us forever,'" Hall recalled. "I remember Eleanor saying, 'I get to have a sister forever.'"
Hall said she told her now-husband about her dream of adopting kids early on in their relationship, "way before you're supposed to talk about kids."
"I brought it up and said, 'Whoever I marry someday has to be open to adoption because I do want that to be part of my story,'" she said. "He said, 'That’s great. How about we have two biological [kids] and two adopted [kids]?,'and I was like, 'Okay.'"
They became foster parents in 2015 and work with a private agency that allows them to foster kids from all over Minnesota. They've cared for kids ranging in age from the twins at 1-month-old to teenagers.
In Hennepin County, where Titus and Charlotte were adopted, there are nearly 1,700 kids in foster care and around 140 kids in the custody of the state waiting to be adopted, according to Melissa Sherlock, the county's program manager for foster care and adoption.
Sherlock oversaw the county's National Adoption Day celebration on Saturday, where Titus and Charlotte joined nearly two dozen other kids in being adopted by a total of 14 families.
"For the families that are adopting, we want them to have a day of celebration for their family that was formed or expanded through adoption," she said of the special event. "We want to raise awareness in the public too that there are many, many children still in foster care waiting for permanent, adoptive families."
Sherlock points out there is a need in Minnesota and across the country in particular for people willing to adopt older youth, sibling groups and children with special needs.
For Hall and her husband, there was no hesitation or doubt that they would keep Titus and Charlotte together. The Halls are also making sure the siblings regularly see their two older brothers who were adopted by a relative.
"The first six months were rough ... but it's fun to watch the two of them together now at 15 months," Hall said of the transition from a family of four to a family of six. "I’m the oldest of five kids and I was 16 when my twin siblings were born. My mom said I helped a lot but now having twins I realize I didn’t help all that much."
"Our big kids are such a big help now," she said of Eleanor and Nehemiah.
Across the country, nearly 690,000 children and youth were "served by the foster care system" last year alone, according to a statement from President Donald Trump proclaiming November as National Adoption Month.
Hall and her husband plan to stay involved in foster care and hope sharing their story inspires others to do whatever they can to help.
"I hope people understand there’s a need for [caring for] local kids and there are lots of ways to help with foster care, even if you’re not meant to be a foster parent," she said. "We were blessed by a couple in our church who gave us a gift card to Target and said, 'Go buy car seats for your babies,' and another friend who gave me two totes full of baby boy clothes."
"Or if your mom group or family wants to adopt a foster family or bring a meal or a cup of coffee over to a foster mom," Hall said. "All of those things are super helpful and make a big difference."