Donna and Stan Jenkins (seated on couch) sit with their six adopted children and Donna's son from a previous marriage. Standing in back are Travis (from left), 12, Ricky NeSmith, 20 and Angel , 11. Seated on Stan's lap are Toby (left), 6 and Zarina, 10. Seated on the floor are Terrell (left), 10 and Alan, 12.
Photo by Jim BlaylockChristmas can get tough when you have six children in one house.
But it's all worth it when Stanley and Donna Jenkins see the six smiling faces.
The Jenkins adopted their children internationally. The couple has three biological children from previous marriages, with only one of them living with them.
" The only reason I would (adopt internationally) is not for anybody to think anything of me," Mrs. Jenkins said. "They usually think I am crazy anyway. But it is because I think people have a very poor outlook on older adoptions."
Mrs. Jenkins adopted Travis, 12, Terrell, 10, and Toby, 6, from an orphanage in Korea five years ago, before marrying Mr. Jenkins. The couple traveled to Kazakhstan in September last year and brought back Allan, 12, Angel, 11, and Zarina, 10, from an orphanage.
To help with the expense of Christmas, Mrs. Jenkins has ordered lots of crafts and will have the children making gifts such as ornaments for their teachers. Thriftiness often saves the day as well as some great donations of games, toys and clothes, Mrs. Jenkins said. Between all the children and a grandchild, the Jenkins house will boast 12 stockings this year.
Mrs. Jenkins was inspired to adopt by a Danielle Steele novel, The Blessing, in which four couples struggle with infertility. She was also trying to get pregnant, but decided if it didn't work soon, adoption was her option. A month later, Mrs. Jenkins began looking for a sibling group to adopt.
"It gets addictive," said Mr. Jenkins, who fell in love with the children and takes them with him everywhere.
The couple traveled to Kazakhstan last September as Mrs. Jenkins wanted some girls this time. They had planned to return with Zarina and Angel, but Allan was a surprise the Jenkins discovered when they got there.
In many countries, children - especially ones in orphanages - do not have many material things. All of the Jenkins clan is thankful for their lives in America and their parents.
"You get so much from them," Mrs. Jenkins said. "It is not selfish in some senses, but in others it is because you get so much fulfillment everyday of your life. Every night they pray and thank Jesus for this wonderful Mom and Dad. Everyday I get thanked.
"I come in the house and it is 'kiss, kiss, kiss.' My oldest boy is 12. He must kiss me 20 times a day, but that is because he is trying to make up for lost time. It is just amazing the love capacity they have."
The Jenkins' have plenty of love to give - enough for three more girls from Guatemala - Reyna, Laura and Sylvia - who should be arriving around February. The Jenkins were hoping for Christmas, but the process is slow in the country, they said. But they have visited them and sent care packages.
"They (six children) are excited about it," Mrs. Jenkins said. "This is something they chose, too. It is not something I can do on my own. I am very responsible for the kids I have."
A house with six children, all 12 and under, would be expected to be a constant ruckus. Not the Jenkins house. The kids stay busy with school and after-school activities like karate, social, church and tutoring programs.
Each child earns an allowance by doing chores such as cleaning the kitchen or bathrooms, vacuuming and keeping their personal space neat. Even Toby, 6, has the job of straightening and cleaning the shoe rack inside the door once a week. No shoes are allowed in the house, since 18 shoes and three dogs can track in a lot of muck.
"A lot of people think it would be overwhelming," Mrs. Jenkins said. "As long as you are organized, (it works)."
Each child has a loft bed with a desk and dresser underneath. All six have a color to code things with and a color-coded and name-embroidered bag for trips.
Of course, six children can be expensive, even for simple things like dinner or a movie.
"We know every kids-eat-free night in town," Mr. Jenkins said.
The family often piles in the van to go camping and to the family movie night on Fort Gordon, where pizza, popcorn, drink and the movie cost $3.
"I am severely in debt, but it is the best kind of debt you can be in," she said.
Mrs. Jenkins finds sanity in the front room of their Hillbrook subdivision home, where the children are allowed to enter only for family time. No television-watching or toys are allowed. Mrs. Jenkins works full-time as a nurse at University Hospital, so she gets rest while the children are at school. She gets dinner prepared, then heads off to work while Mr. Jenkins takes care of the evening and getting everyone to bed.
"We have so much fun," Mr. Jenkins said. "We have a ball."
Mr. Jenkins has become accustomed to the chaos in the house. Once in a while, he has the house to himself and finds himself bored and missing the children.
The Jenkinses get great pleasure from all of their children.
"It is beyond wonderful," Mrs. Jenkins said. "Everybody thinks I am crazy. But if anybody would spend a day with our family, I think most anybody would want to go and adopt. These are the most loving children. I get thanked every day of my life. If I can do anything to encourage other people to look into older children adoption, I would do it if I had to climb a mountain to do it."
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