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Couple adopts 4 siblings from foster care, then welcomes quadruplets

The Youngs went from zero to nine kids since they were married in 2016.

Can you imagine adopting four siblings from foster care, having a son of your own and then finding out you’re having quadruplets?

That’s exactly what happened to Maxine Young, 30, and her husband Jacob Young, 32, from Reading, Pennsylvania. Married in 2016, the couple went from zero to nine kids in just four years.

Maxine Young said that she had always wanted to adopt children, but the more she learned about foster care, the more she realized she wanted to help children that needed loving homes — even if it was temporary.

“After learning about foster care, it was always on my heart,” Maxine Young said. “We started to take the foster care classes and were approved in about two months. Not even a month later, we got our first placement call.”

Maxine Young said the couple wrote that they would be willing to take in two foster children at a time, but when the call asked if they would be willing to take in three siblings, all under 4 years old, she instantly said yes.

“I said yes we’ll do it without even asking Jake,” Maxine Young said, laughing. “It was really overwhelming. Going from zero to three kids is a lot, but they had already been through so much and lost so much that I didn’t want to separate them.”

While caring for the three siblings, the couple got another call asking if they would take in the kids’ baby sister, Elliot, bringing them to a total of four children.

“We said yes to their baby sister and it was one of the best yesses of my life,” Maxine Young said. “Elliot and I are so close. I laugh with Jake that she is my real soulmate.”

While raising the four siblings, the couple got pregnant with their son, Henry, using intrauterine insemination. Maxine Young said they had been trying for around two years to have their own child and were thrilled when he was born in October 2018.

It was a family of seven when the Youngs got their biggest surprise. After not thinking they could have children naturally, Young found out that she was pregnant. And it wasn’t just any pregnancy — it was quadruplets.

“At first I was excited, but that quickly became nervousness,” she said. “The doctors made it seem like it would be impossible to have four healthy babies and wanted us to reduce. Once we accepted that it would be risky, we felt joy come back. All four of our babies were healthy. I’m so glad we went with our gut.”

In July 2020, their group of five children quickly became nine with the additions of the quadruplets: Silas, Theo, Beck and Cecilia.

“I think most people that have nine kids have them more spread out,” Young said. “We have nine kids under 8 and it sounds even crazier

What It’s Like to Be in Foster Care During a Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has aggravated the difficult work of finding and maintaining stable homes for the United States’ more than 400,000 foster children. The mechanisms of foster care vary by state—sometimes by county—but many of the same threats loom over each location. Although specific nationwide statistics from recent months are hard to come by, interviews with experts, social workers, and foster parents paint a grim picture of a system where capacity for housing children was already strapped and turnover among placements was already high. Now many local foster-care systems are facing shortages of foster parents and outbreaks in group homes and residential facilities, making what was already an unstable situation for children even more volatile.

Ultimately, Jessica’s parents, older people at high risk for the virus living in a different state, volunteered to care for her foster son if needed. Fortunately, she never had to ask. Although Jessica and her foster son have since recovered, not all are so lucky. As states have closed and reopened, foster care has also been forced to pause and restart—and, in some cases, pause again. But a system designed to respond to emergencies can never completely pause.

Kristina’s 5-year-old foster daughter struggles with attachment and relies on a strict routine and regular therapy. The pandemic has been disastrous for her. In temper tantrums lasting more than an hour, she has shredded books, attempted to break furniture, and urinated on the floor, Kristina, who lives in Missouri, told me. Although remote therapy can be successful for adults, for a young child with a short attention span, virtual care has been useless, in Kristina’s opinion. She feels that she and her husband have been left to care for their foster daughter with little meaningful outside support.

The pandemic has destabilized the lives of many foster families like Kristina’s, while also cutting off access to in-person resources that normally would help them to cope with changes. Foster kids, many of whom live with the fear that they could be suddenly forced to change homes, might be particularly sensitive to these distressing routine shifts. “These kids don’t know what’s going to happen to them ever normally anyway,” said Kristina. “My little kids literally think that they could come home from day care, and I could have their stuff packed and they could be leaving.” In this context, no longer going to school or day care can be terrifying. Missing in-person visits with biological parents is often devastating. Getting through this without in-person support from therapists and social workers exhausts the whole family.

Actually changing homes would be much more destabilizing. Frequent moves can lead to worse academic performance, poorer mental health, less stable attachments in relationships, and even disrupted brain development in normal times. That always-drastic change might feel much more hopeless now, when kids could feel like they’re being abandoned in the middle of a global crisis. Kristina said they’ve never considered giving up their four foster children, whom they