But when they were asked if they would take in four brothers who had been separated most of their lives, they opened their hearts and their home to all four boys in order to keep them together. The boys’ youngest brother had already been adopted out to another family, and Brenda and Francisco wanted to ensure that the remaining four would grow up in each other’s lives.
Eli, Adam, Hugo and Brendan arrived at the Hernandez home about two years ago, and overnight Brenda and Francisco went from having no children to parenting four boys, ages 8, 6, 5 and 2.
It wasn’t easy. The boys had hardly any clothes or belongings, and they often fought. At times Brenda had doubts about continuing to foster them.
“There were days when I didn’t think I could do this anymore,” she said. “But we just prayed and prayed about it, and we prayed with the boys as well.”
Eli, the oldest, wrote Brenda a note the very first week he was placed with her, and his words really touched her heart, and gave her the motivation to persevere.
It read “You’re the best mom. Thank you for taking care of me, and feeding me, and thank you for cleaning my teeth.” (Brenda is a dental hygienist.)
“Knowing the abuse and neglect they came from, I just couldn’t let them go back.” Brenda said. “I love them like my own.”
Slowly but surely, the boys learned to share, and fought less. They also learned to trust Brenda and Francisco. At first, when the family would go to the mall or to church, the older two boys would ask “You’re not going to leave us here, are you?” But over the past two years, they have learned that Brenda and Francisco would never abandon them.
They’ve also begun to do better in school, and have started to explore their interest in sports. Brenda and Francisco helped the oldest three each find a sport to participate in at the local Boys & Girls Club. Eli has turned out to be an excellent swimmer, Adam is very good at golf, and Hugo is now the quarterback of his flag football team.
But the best change in the boys’ lives came last month when Brenda and Francisco were able to adopt them, all four of them, dispelling any uncertainty and anxiety about their future. The boys officially became Eli, Adam, Hugo and Brendan Hernandez on August 7th.
“The boys kept asking, ‘Am I really going to be a Hernandez?’” Brenda said. “It was almost too good to be true. We were all excited.”