Jessaka and Joshua Clark may seem like any normal couple, but in some ways they’re pretty extraordinary. With a lot of love in their hearts, they’ve both always wanted a large family – and did so even before they met. So, when doctors told them that they wouldn’t be able to conceive, they weren’t going to let it stop them. In fact, if you look at their family now, you will see something quite remarkable.
Joshua and Jessaka bonded on their very first date, and one of the factors that brought them together was a shared desire for a large family. Indeed, Joshua expressed an interest in having ten kids, most of whom would be adopted. And this suited Jessaka, whose own parents fostered other kids.
Part of the Georgia couple’s dream seemed destined to remain unfulfilled, however, after doctors told them that they would be unlikely to be able to conceive on their own. Nevertheless, they didn’t let the news get them down. Adoption had always been part of the plan anyway, so that was the avenue they subsequently went down.
Several months later, though, the couple were in for a shock. Jessaka had gotten pregnant after all – much to the couple’s surprise. Then, in 2014, Noah was born. However, their son’s arrival didn’t change their plans. They were still determined to have a large family and carried on with their adoption efforts.
In particular, the Clarks wanted to adopt a group of siblings. As Joshua explained to People in May 2017, “There was a huge need, especially for larger sibling groups. They are normally split up, and that’s detrimental – it was in our hearts to open our home to them.”
As a result, in January 2015 Jessaka and Joshua were assigned to a case worker to help with the search. Yet over the next year, although they were matched with several potential children, the adoptions never worked out. Then at the start of 2016 the Clarks received a phone call.
It was Joshua, who works in the finance department at a motorcycle showroom, who took the call. As Jessaka recalled in a May 2017 interview with 11 Alive, “When he got off the phone, he said to me, ‘What do you think about seven?’ I said, ‘A seven-year-old?’” But Joshua’s reply stunned his wife.
Jessaka continued, “He said, ‘Well, there is a seven-year-old, but no… seven children.’” She was as stunned as her husband was. The couple had been searching for a group of two, maybe three siblings. However, with a young son already on their hands, surely seven was too many.
“My eyes probably got as big as his, and we both said the same thing: ‘We need to pray about this,’” Jessaka recalled. “We prayed that night and didn’t sleep well because God told us that these were the kids for us.” Yes, the Clarks somehow knew it was meant to be.
One month on, the couple met the “Super 7,” as the kids called themselves. They were 14-year-old Maria and her sister Elizabet, aged 11, their brothers Duillermo, ten, and Jason, eight, sisters Kristina and Katerin, both aged seven, and the youngest boy, James, aged five.
What’s more, their first meeting couldn’t, it seems, have gone better. “They started calling us ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ the first time they met us,” Jessaka told CBS in May 2017. “I knew they were my kids. I immediately knew I wanted to be their mom.” And the kids’ response was certainly remarkable given their background.
The “Super 7” had in fact been in foster care for around four years. It all started when the oldest sibling, Maria, then aged ten, knocked on their Jesup, Georgia, neighbor’s door, looking for help when their mom hadn’t come home. They were subsequently sent to Gabriel’s House Ranch, which works to keep parentless siblings together.
And despite two unsuccessful adoptions, the siblings were still determined to stay together. “They don’t trust moms,” Jessaka explained to CBS. “From their experience, moms leave and moms don’t give you food. You have to basically break that image down and recreate it for them.”
Nonetheless, perhaps due to Jessaka’s own childhood experiences, she could relate to what the siblings were going through. Indeed, having grown up in a family who fostered, she had been surrounded by anything up to a dozen foster kids at a time. Two even subsequently became her brothers when they were adopted into the family.
So, in August 2017 the “Super 7” moved into the Clarks’ Effingham County, Georgia, three-bedroom home. And as a result, the 25-year-old mom of one was suddenly thrown in at the deep end as a mom of eight. It was, however, a new role that Jessaka took in her stride.
“Going from one to eight [children] wasn’t really difficult,” Jessaka told CBS. “It was more normal for us than it probably should have been.” Regardless, the new family were still closely monitored by the authorities until the arrangement became official.
That day came on May 9, 2017. In the courtroom, the kids, dressed in their smartest attire, held up a sign saying, “We were in foster care for 1,359 days, but today, May 9, 2017, we’re adopted.” Noah, meanwhile, had spent 1,426 days as an only child before becoming a little brother.
Still, the day did bring some unexpected news: there was an eighth sibling, a baby girl, who remained in foster care. As a separate case, she wasn’t included in the Clarks’ adoption. But it remains their intention to bring her into the family to grow up with her brothers and sisters.
That said, there’s something that needs to happen first. With four boys in one bedroom, four girls in another and the parents in the third, the house is simply too small for another adoption to happen yet. So friends have pulled together and started a GoFundMe page for an extension to the Clarks’ home.
“It’s not easy,” Jessaka explained to 11 Alive. “You have to know that God called you to adopt. And you need a lot of support. You will feel the greatest joys, and you will feel the biggest heartbreaks. But just like there is pain in labor, at the end you get a beautiful child… or seven!”