Aleisha and Anthony Bryant always wanted a big family.
They each had a child from previous relationships and a former foster child whom they considered one of their own, but they didn’t “feel whole” until last month when they added five new members to their family, Aleisha Bryant said.
Last month, the Baldwin couple adopted five siblings, ranging in age from 6 to 18 years old and on Saturday celebrated their new blended family. The Bryants were the winners of Gift My Gathering, a contest put on by T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods, after being nominated by the adoption agency that helped them increase their brood.
The win meant their four-bedroom home was decorated, food was catered and Anthony Bryant’s daughter, Candace Richards, 25, and her husband were flown in from Augusta, Georgia, for the festivities.
“It was a great way to usher in 2018 and bring everyone together,” Aleisha Bryant said.
The Bryants first decided to adopt the five siblings in 2015 after having been their foster parents for two years. They originally planned to take in three children but one evening received a phone call from the Brooklyn adoption agency they were working with, You Gotta Believe. The organization, which serves New York City and Long Island, was looking for a home for five siblings — Elizabeth, 18, Anthony, 16, James, 11, Joshua, 7, and Messiah, 6.
“Our initial reaction was, ‘No way,’ said Aleisha Bryant, 35, who works as a customer service representative for Con Edison. “We just didn’t think it was possible logistically.”
But after discussing it over dinner, the Bryants decided they were up to the task.
“We couldn’t imagine these siblings potentially being separated,” she said. “We knew we had a lot of love to offer and decided to take a leap of faith.”
There were growing pains at first for the five children, who had been bounced from home to home after their father was deported to Guatemala and their mother could no longer care for them, Elizabeth Bryant said. But after a few months, the children became used to their new parents and the stability of their new home – each night shouting “Dad’s home!” whenever Anthony Bryant, 52, returned from his job as an armored guard for Dunbar.
Their first foster child, Ericka Jarvis, 23, has since moved out but Mekhi, 16, Aleisha’s son, lives at home.
“I didn’t think it was actually going to happen – that we’d be all together in one place. We’re a bit of a handful,” said Elizabeth Bryant, who’s currently studying criminal justice at John Jay College. “But someone took on that challenge, and I’m really glad they did.”