American couple feel blessed by 'a beautiful mess' after adopting eight African siblings

American couple feel blessed by ‘a beautiful mess’ after adopting eight African siblings

Adopting a child is a major undertaking that involves a lot of paperwork and sleepless nights. So imagine adopting a family of eight siblings from another country. That’s the challenge Hayley and Mike Jones took on when the couple from Thompson’s Station, Tennessee, decided to adopt an orphan family from Sierra Leone in West Africa.

“We had always talked about adoption even when we were dating and we always knew we wanted to adopt from the African continent,” Hayley explains. “We always thought we would adopt a little boy.”

However, when visiting the orphanage in Sierra Leone, the fate of the eight siblings struck a chord. Their father had been killed in a boating accident and they faced the real possibility of being separated until Mike fell in love with the idea of ​​adopting them.

“The weight of eight was so heavy. So you really had to pray and seek God’s guidance about it. And he just made it clear to me that the eight was what we had to do.”

The Joneses already had two children of their own, so the prospect of adopting eight more would involve a complete lifestyle change. This included transforming their house from a house for four to a house for twelve!

“We felt like Noah building the Ark,” Hayley says. “People from the church came to help us, like building rooms in the basement of our house. We redid our kitchen. We did all of that, just getting ready for the kids.”

After three years of traveling to and from Sierra Leone trying to finalize the adoption, Mike and Hayley were finally able to welcome the children to American soil.

Watch the video to see how tragedy became triumph for 8 orphaned siblings.

“It was a big adjustment,” says Mike. “But everything went really well. I mean, they’re great kids. They bless us, I always tell people, more than we bless them.”

One of the ways the boys acclimated to the American way of life was through football. It started with the oldest boy, Michael. He had played the streets occasionally in Sierra Leone but had never played organized football.

“It was a big adjustment because not knowing football goals or anything was really difficult for me,” says Michael. “And then I couldn’t talk to the coaches about how to play the game because of the English. Also, I was like, man, my feet are light. And then I put on the cleats; they’re so heavy on my feet. So, I said to my dad, I was like, “Hey, dad, is there any way I can take these cleats off and play barefoot?”

Michael eventually accepted football, the American way, and became a key player on the team at Grace Christian Academy in Franklin, Tennessee. In fact, he started a Jones football dynasty, as the rest of his siblings followed suit to become star players at the school, which recently won a state championship.

“Whenever one of our siblings has games, we’re always there to cheer them on and bond as a family,” says Michael. “Because these are times you should cherish.”

Michael is now in college, earning his master’s degree while continuing to play and coach. His siblings also continued soccer, including his brothers Malachi and Levi, who just joined Lipscomb University’s soccer program in Nashville, Tennessee.

Meanwhile, back home, it’s business as usual for Hayley and Mike. Since adopting the siblings from Africa, they have had another child, increasing their family size to 13!

“It’s a beautiful mess,” Hayley said. “It’s full of sacrifices, but at the same time, it’s full of blessings.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Eight African siblings are living the American dream after being adopted