A young Pennsylvania couple had always wanted to be parents but never expected to go from zero to nine children in just three years.
They fostered four siblings before welcoming a biological son, and then came a huge surprise: after adopting their foster children, the couple fell pregnant with quadruplets.
Maxine Young, 30, and Jake Young, 32, now share a 2-year-old biological son, Henry, four adopted siblings—Aiden, 8; Parker, 5; Connor, 4; and Elliott, 3—and 3-month-old biological quads, Theo, Silas, Beck, and Cecilia.
"We didn’t plan to have this large of a family," Maxine told People. "But it just seems like these babies are meant to be."
The couple married in 2016, but their initial path to parenthood was littered with obstacles. Maxine has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and suffered two miscarriages after undergoing fertility treatment. She believed she might never conceive naturally.
"I always wanted to foster and adopt," Maxine told the outlet.
Talking to Jake reaped a happy result: they were on the same page. They enrolled in foster parenting classes together and received their first call about a sibling group of three on July 28, 2017. The couple deliberated—they had originally only been prepared to foster two children—but agreed to go ahead.
They weren't to be a family of five for long.
Maxine recalled that merely a month later, they got a call for the three kids' baby sister who was in NICU; they took the baby girl into their care.
"[We] went from zero to four in less than a month. It was great [and] definitely chaotic," Maxine said.
Six months in, both the greatness and the chaos were magnified by the news that Maxine was pregnant. She admitted feeling skeptical but carried a healthy baby boy, Henry, to full term in October 2018.
As the following Christmas approached, the couple learned that the rights of their foster children's biological parents had been revoked since failing to appear for scheduled visits.
Maxine and Jake had signed up as foster parents knowing that reunification was the end goal, but they had nonetheless fallen in love. With the blessing of Aiden, Parker, Connor, and Elliott's biological grandparents, the children were formally adopted on Dec. 20, 2019.
And then, life changed again—Maxine conceived naturally, this time with more than one baby.
The couple, excited and nervous, were advised to consider terminating two of the fetuses to increase the babies' chances of survival. The couple steadfastly refused. On July 31, Maxine delivered babies Theo, Silas, Beck, and Cecilia via a C-section at 32 weeks of pregnancy.
"If you think their hands are full, you should see their hearts," the proud grandmother wrote.
Cecilia was the first baby to be discharged from the NICU; Beck followed last. Maxine and Jake agree that having nine children and parenting from home during a global pandemic is extremely hard, but both see their loving, blended family as a blessing.