Tucked away behind an unassuming entry gate and down a wooded drive, a unique family is flourishing in Richmond County.
As free-roaming chickens peck at the ground, happy dogs bound across the yard and the sound of construction can be heard in the background, the most prevalent noise is that of the laughter and the constant chatter of children; 11 of them to be exact, with another on the way.
They are the Jackson family, and although they may not be all genetically tied, their bond is stronger: love.
The Jackson’s story began in 1995, when Kendra and Timothy first met during a blind date.
Quickly realizing they were meant for each other, the two married a year later and the whirlwind began.
At the time, Timothy, who currently works as a law enforcement officer in a nearby jurisdiction, was in the Air Force. The couple traveled across the country, all the while planning their future family.
“My goal has always been to be a stay at home mom,” Kendra, who is expecting her next child in just a few weeks, said as she tied her youngest son’s shoes while keeping an eye out on two of her other sons as they played on an indoor trampoline.
“It was just something I always knew, ever since I was little and my best friend and I would sit for hours talking about starting an orphanage,” she said. “I had a cousin my aunt and uncle adopted and my husband and I always thought about our life and other kids that don’t have the same opportunities we did.”
Looking around, Kendra laughed, adding that when she was young she always pictured herself with two children.
“Now I am about to have our seventh biological child and we have five adopted children,” she said with a wide smile, adding that their first adopted child, Levi, who is now an “upstanding 18-year-old,” is following his dad’s footsteps as he is about to enter the Air Force.
“He is definitely up for the challenge,” Kendra said.
According to Kendra, the couple began plans for adopting their first child less than a year into their marriage, when she was just 21 years old and her husband five years her senior.
“Once we started, we realized that there is nothing more important than the investment in a child, our faith, our belief in Jesus and the power that translates to our family and children,” Kendra said. “We love our children and life. It is what love is all about.”
Starting as licensed foster parents, the couple took in over 16 children over the years, both long and short term, many of whom went on to their “forever homes” or stayed with the Jacksons as another member of a true blend of nurture and growth.
After Levi, who was just over 2 years old when he joined their family, Kendra found out she was pregnant with the Jackson’s first daughter, Kyra.
“After that, it was just an open door,” Kendra said.
In 1999 Ciara joined their family through adoption and every year after that, a new addition has come either through natural or adopted introduction.
-See the full story in the Feb. 12 edition of The Northern Neck News!