The Berry family is getting bigger.
Following their heart, Esther and Chris have been married 35 years. While most people their age are getting ready for retirement, they have a different idea: adopt five children.
The Berrys are far from emptynesters, even though their five biological children are grown. The couple adopted brother and sister Willie and Melissa more than a year ago. On Thursday, the adoption became final for siblings Stephan and Dajah.
“I wanted a family in my whole entire life,” said 10-year-old Dajah.
All of the kids have lived in and out of foster homes. The couple realized there was such a need for foster parents after they opened Esther’s School in Pinellas Park for exceptional children.
“We truly believe this is what our calling in life is,” said Esther. In her sixties, she says age isn’t an issue.
“We’ve already raised five of our own biological children and we’ve come to a time in our lives when we don’t get stressed out as much,” she said. “You kind of take things easier and we’re having more fun with these children, because we’ve made all the mistakes with the first five.”
The age of the adopted children range from 10 to 17. Some of them are close to aging out of foster care.
“They’ll always have a family, they’re going to grow up and go out to the world and some of them will go to college, others will go get jobs but we’ll always be there for them, whereas in the foster care program, when they age out, who do they have? They have nobody.”
Now, they have a forever family. The Berry’s plan to adopt a fifth child later this year, a 17-year-old boy.