'At any cost': How one family adopted eight siblings from Africa
Many families have considered adopting a child, but few have likely considered adopting eight. But that's exactly what an American couple did, becoming parents to eight siblings from Sierra Leone after a years-long process.
Now, Mike and Hayley Jones are sharing their adoption story with readers in their new book "At Any Cost: Overcoming Every Obstacle to Bring Our Children Home."
In addition to the eight siblings, comprising seven boys and one girl, Mike and Hayley Jones have two biological sons. They have affectionately nicknamed their 12-member family the "Jones Dozen."
Hayley said it was a moment of "divine intervention," that led her and her husband to adopt all eight children, whose father had died.
"I don't think anyone sets out and says 'Hey, let's go out and adopt eight siblings at one time.' We certainly didn't," she told CTV's Canada AM.
However, it was during a meeting with a woman who was familiar with adoption that they were shown photos of the siblings in Sierra Leone. They knew they had to do something.
In the book, they describe how the photo affected Mike. “Bam! It was like I got hit in the head with a hammer,” he wrote. “It all happened so fast, it was as if it were happening to someone else.”
But at the time Sierra Leone had no formal adoption process. So the couple embarked on a three-year-long journey to bring the eight children to their Nashville-area home through an independent adoption process.
"In the beginning, we had no idea our adoption would take three years," the couple write in their book. "We believed each trip Hayley made (about 8 in total) was going to mean progress, and we always had hope that it would happen next month, and then the next month."
It turns out, the extra time was a blessing in disguise, Hayley said, as it allowed her to spend time with the children and prepare them for their transition to life in America.
For example, the children initially believed that all of the U.S. was made up of "concrete jungles," like the ones they imagined in New York City, she said. As well, they had to learn about and adjust to things that were entirely new for them, she added.
The children had to get used to seeing and using things that they had never seen before, from lawn mowers to grocery stores, she said. "Every single thing was a brand new experience for them."
And there were adjustments for her and her husband to make as well, starting with the increased cost of raising a total of 10 children.
Take for example, their grocery bill, which Hayley calls "astronomical."
"It's huge, but we just try to do the best we can. We know the difference between needs and wants, and we've always had what we needed," she said.
The couple says they go through 36 eggs, a gallon of tea, 24 biscuits, and two packs of bacon every single day -- and that's just for breakfast.
"It's a good thing I like to cook," Hayley joked.
The couple will soon have to make room in their home for one more, as they recently announced that they are expecting another child. The two are expecting their 10th son in February.