The family with 34 children – and counting

Familly

Jeane and Paul Briggs have 34 children – 29 of whom were adopted from other countries including Mexico, Ghana and Ukraine. Now their family is about to get even bigger.

In 1985, Jeane Briggs was at church when she was shown a photograph of a two-year-old boy. He was living in an orphanage in Mexico, was blind and had been beaten so badly that he was in a body cast – his legs were broken and he had suffered brain damage.

Shortly after seeing that picture, Jeane and her husband Paul went to Mexico to visit the orphanage and met the little boy. “I saw him knowing that he could be our child,” recalls Jeane. “I knew instantly that we should adopt him.” Several months later they did just that.

Abraham is now 31 and lives at the family home in West Virginia – he has a girlfriend and, despite his injuries as a child, is a naturally talented musician who can play the piano and guitar and composes his own music.

Since Abraham came to live with them, the Briggs have adopted a further 28 children from Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Ghana. They also have five biological children, making Jeane and Paul the parents of 34 children.

You might think that would be enough for any parent, but the Briggs family is about to get even bigger – Jeane and Paul are in the process of adopting another two baby boys from Ghana.

“They are three months old and were abandoned in the bush,” says Jeane. Jabin Kofi and John David will be joining the family in the US once the adoption process is complete, taking the number of Briggs children to 36.

Each of the adoptions has taken a different length of time – the quickest was completed in just over two months, while the longest took nearly a year and a half. In many cases, Jeane and Paul have been able to expedite the process because of the children’s medical needs.

Over the past 29 years, as more children have arrived, the Briggs’s house has been adapted for their expanding family. It now has nine bedrooms – two of which resemble dormitories – and at over 5,000 square feet, the building is more than twice its original size.

But the house isn’t just a home, it’s also where the children go to school – Jeane has been home-schooling the children for nearly 30 years.

Each weekday morning the children get up between 07:00 and 07:30, have breakfast, do their chores and get ready for the school day which starts at 09:00.

The system seems to work well and has produced several college graduates, says Jeane. It also means the family doesn’t have to co-ordinate what would be a pretty complex school run.

Mealtimes are busy to say the least – Jeane describes them as “crazy”. Each day at breakfast, lunch and dinner there are about 30 mouths to feed and the family frequently relies on paper plates and cups. Their single dishwasher gets busy – it’s filled three times a day as it is.

And all that food doesn’t come cheap, with the grocery bill averaging $1,000 (£640) per week. Paul’s well-paid job and Jeane’s careful budgeting mean they have been able to cope with the expenses.-AfricaMetro

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