Landi and Jacob had four boys – and then they had eight
The Burtons had four boys – and then they had eight
While Landi and Jacob Burton always knew they wanted to adopt children, they never expected that their brood of boys would double in size. Now parents to eight, young energetic fellas, they couldn’t imagine their home any other way.
Adoption had long been a part of the Burtons’ plan and after giving birth to four boys, the couple began to think about expanding their family again. They considered adding girls, but knew for sure they wanted a sibling group. After watching an inspiring story about a professional football player who had been adopted, the Burtons began to evaluate what was keeping them from starting the process.
That night, she went online to look up pictures of Arkansas children in need of homes. It was then that she came across a photo of four adorable brothers.
Something stirred within her and she felt compelled to find out more about them. Landi inquired via email about the boys in the photo. Then she and her family started praying for the brothers and the upcoming adoption journey.
Meanwhile, Jacob, a licensed contractor, began a major addition to their home.
“We were rushing to get the house done. We had to get to a certain point to even be legally open for the process,” he explained.
The Burtons enlarged their log-cabin style home to include a larger family room, dining area and kitchen. Their new plans also included construction of a wing for the boys featuring eight queen size bunks and adequate bathroom and play space for all eight children. Thankfully, they completed the project just in time. “The Lord got us open exactly when we needed to be,” he said.
During that period of almost six months, the Burtons learned more about the four brothers and were informed the judge did in fact want to keep them together. The Burton family were able to meet their future sons at a special adoption event in Little Rock known as Project Zero. Landi recalls the moments leading up to it as a bit surreal. “We were fixing to meet these little boys, who we felt like were OUR boys.”
The meeting affirmed Landi and Jacob’s belief that the boys were meant to be a part of their family, but the coming months would present some major obstacles. Early on, DHS informed the Burtons they were not considered “a match” for the sibling group, but the family decided to fight for them. “We didn’t believe that was the Lord’s will. Jacob called and asked what we needed to do.”
The two were invited to meet with a panel where they were asked questions, including how they would deal with challenges, such as raising children of different races. “The questions were tough. We just stressed that we were going to love them, nurture them, and give them structure,” she said.
The entire family was greatly relieved when they received the “go ahead” from DHS. Over the next several months, the Burtons met with the four boys for daylong visits that included trips to the zoo and picnics in the park. Once their home was open, Landi and Jacob were then allowed to have them for overnight and weekend visits, which gave the family a first-hand look at how all eight boys would interact with one another.
In February 2017, the boys officially moved in. Having been separated in different homes for several years, the brothers struggled, at first, to get along.
“They had to learn how to be brothers. How to deal when something didn’t go their way,” their mother said.
Over time, the parents began to see big differences in their soon-to-be-adopted sons’ behavior. They began to embrace their surroundings, opting for outdoor time, versus the screens they had become accustomed to in previous foster homes. Behavioral problems decreased and going out for family functions became easier.
Landi admits that there were moments, especially early on, that caring for eight children felt overwhelming.
“We saw there were going to be challenges, but never felt like we shouldn’t do it. It’s been hard, but good,” she said. “We just always felt like we should keep going.”
Aug. 8 was official “Adoption Day” for the Burton crew. To celebrate, Landi and Jacob had new family photos taken.
Their new sons also opted to legally change their names. They all chose names from the Bible, except Elijah, whose name already was of an Old Testament prophet. In a Burton tradition, they selected new, nature-themed middle names.
From oldest to youngest, the Burton brothers are Daniel Stone Burton, 11; Samuel Wolf Burton, 10; Andrew River Burton, 10; Matthew Bear Burton, 9; Silas Eagle Burton, 8; Jeremiah Badger Burton, 8; Elijah Hawk Burton, 6 and Seth Bison Burton, 6.
Nearly three months post-adoption, Landi feels her family has settled into a solid routine. Mornings are for breakfast and homeschooling, alternated with lots of time roaming the family’s vast property.
“They are always outside building stuff or coming and telling me about what they have found outdoors,” she said.
The boys also have specific chores assigned to them. Afternoons generally include traveling into town for football practice.
Landi’s biggest challenge comes in feeding her family of ten – no surprise to parents of many fewer children. “We go through eight to ten gallons of milk each week!”
Although Jacob and Landi undoubtedly have their hands full, it is their hearts that are overflowing.
“Jacob is so awesome with them. He is just a really, good ‘boy dad.’ He can have five different games going at once and includes all of them in the fun,” Landi said.
Landi is proud of all her boys – how her adopted sons have adjusted to their new lives and how her biological sons have embraced their new siblings.
“The Lord brought our family together and we are grateful for it. Just as that story we saw on TV encouraged us to move forward in the process, we hope our story will maybe inspire others to open their hearts and homes to adoption.”
– By Brittany Ransom
This article appears in the November 2017 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine.