A Pennslyvania couple who had always dreamed of having children were gifted nine after adopting four and having five of their own — all in the span of just three years.
Maxine Young revealed to PEOPLE (the TV Show!) that while she and her husband Jake, 32, have always wanted a big family, they did not plan for nine kids in total.
And that is just what happened to the Youngs, who now share an adopted set of four siblings, Aiden, 8, Parker, 5, Connor, 4, and Elliott, 3, — as well as a 23-month-old biological son, Henry, and 8-week-old biological quadruplets, Theo, Silas, Beck and Cecilia.
“This wasn’t like what we intended. We didn’t plan to have this large of a family,” Maxine, 30, says. “But it just seems like these babies are meant to be. I can’t imagine not having all four of them now at this point.”
It all began in July of 2017, about one year after the couple married. The Youngs knew they wanted children at the time and were both open to the idea of adoption.
“When I was little, I always wanted to foster and adopt,” Maxine shares. “As I got older, I learned about foster care and the fact that so many kids need homes. When I met Jake, we discussed it and after we got married, that’s when we talked about it [seriously].”
And with Maxine and Jake on the same page, the two began to take classes about foster care. They soon were approved and just a month later on July 28, 2017, they received a call about fostering three kids.
“We went from just me and Jake to parents of three overnight,” she continues.
“And then not even a month later, we got a call for their baby sister. She was in the NICU. So we picked her up … and went from zero to four in less than a month. It was great [and] definitely chaotic.”
Six months into fostering the kids, Maxine discovered she was pregnant with her and Jake’s first biological child.
And on a few months before they would welcome their son Henry in October, the two learned how the rights of the four children’s biological parents had been terminated. Cut to Dec 20 when Jake and Maxine officially became the parents of Aiden, Parker, Connor, and Elliott.
And just when life seemed to be done with surprises, Maxine found out she was pregnant with triplets. But after a few weeks and multiple ultrasounds, doctors confirmed she was carrying four babies. They were safely delivered and their family was (almost) instant.
And now at home with their nine kids during a global pandemic, Maxine and Jake reveal how they can’t imagine life any other way — even if things are not very challenging.
“It’s definitely chaotic and it’s definitely beautiful,” Maxine shares.
“Seeing our older kids hold the babies is definitely beautiful, but also it’s chaotic. And with COVID, we have all of the kids home … [and] have to do online schooling with them.”
“But I think that we make it work, and Jake and I always say everyone’s struggles are relative,” she continues. “People struggle with one child, and people struggle with two children, but we’ve only known the chaos of a large family. We went from zero to four, so we just make it work.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.