Parents often seek to emulate the best parts of their own upbringing in children. However, a Wisconsin woman believes the opposite is true.
Jessica Benzakein wants to offer her kids much more. The Milwaukee resident grew up in foster care and became ward of the state at just 12 years-old.
Benzakein was separated from her brother and abandoned after her mother renounced parental rights. Her caseworker did not have high hopes, because she was becoming too old for adoption and still too young to move out and live independently.
The six years leading up to her 18th birthday were spent moving between different foster families. She never found a home where she felt entirely at ease, and this made her lonely.
Benzakein turned her negative experience into a positive by caring for foster children herself later in life. She took in two sets of brothers–a total of six boys–who badly needed a home.
She began offering her home to children in need after having two biological children with ex-husband Eli (14) and Brenna (9). Will (19), Carter (14), Sidney (13), Buddy (8), Kendrich (6), and T.J. (4) are all newcomers.
“Everybody tells me how lucky these kids are and what a good thing I did,” Benzakein said according to Newsner. “I am going to cry … they grounded me. I went through my 20s, thinking I did not really need a family but I did–they give me purpose.”
A Milwaukee court recently ruled she could formally adopt all of the children.
“I think we are pretty good together,” she said according to the publication. “I do not know if I am the best mom but I am their best mom–I love them.”