Parents of 11 Who Adopted 5 Kids with Special Needs Say Hearts Are 'Always Open' to More Kids
Paul and Ashley Kellogg road's to adoption began after their 11-year-old daughter Myra was born with cerebral palsy
Paul and Ashley Kellogg always knew they wanted at least six kids — but they never imagined they’d end up with a brood of 11 children, more than half of whom have special needs.
Still, the Indiana couple say they wouldn’t have it any other way – and haven’t closed the door on welcoming even more into the fold.
“I feel like my heart will always be open to it, always be able to make room,” Ashley tells PEOPLE (the TV Show!) on Monday’s episode.
The couple’s parenthood journey first began with biological children, of which they now have six. When 11-year-old Myra — who is non-verbal and non-ambulatory — was born with cerebral palsy, Paul and Ashley soon realized that they had an invaluable set of parenting skills that could greatly benefit another child with special needs.
“We had always thought about sibling adoption, but hadn’t really thought of special needs,” she says. “[But we realized] that we had skills — and maybe a different perspective — that other people [didn’t] have.”
Over the years, they’ve adopted an additional five children; two, 10-year-old Frannie and 1-year-old Theodore, have Down syndrome, while two kids have dyslexia and four have vision impairment. Another, 8-year-old Finton, has albinism, while 7-year-old Bryant has a seizure disorder and speech delays.
Still, the couple says that their lives have only been enriched by their additions, and that the children have also improved the lives of their siblings.
“I see a lot of benefits for our older, typical children to be able to have compassion for others and see others as equal, despite any type of ability or limitation,” says Ashley. “I definitely think it influences their lives as they grow up.”
Adds Paul: “I just think that more often, families that are trying to adopt go to adopt neuro-typical kids or kids without special needs. But I think that these special kids, they can add wonderful things to your life and to your family that you may never have realized you were missing.”
Both Micah, 7, and baby Theo were adopted through Special Angels Adoption Agency, the only nationwide agency that works exclusively with children with special needs.
“It’s so important to let people know that this is a viable option,” Jennifer Kelly, the agency’s medical director, tells PEOPLE (The TV Show!). “My own daughter’s birth parents were told over and over again that no one would want to adopt their daughter… I don’t want birth parents to hear that anymore.”
That seems to be Ashley’s mantra as well: “Ultimately, every child deserves a family,” she says.