Covington residents Bonnie and Jeremy Holmes celebrate the finalization of the adoption of their five children, ages 18 months, 3, 4, 5 and 6, on the Newton County Courthouse steps Oct. 15. (Special Photo)
For the longest time, there was only a duet singing Christmas carols at the Holmes’ house in Covington. But this year a loud and happy septet will be gathered around the piano singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” at the top of their voices.
Friends lovingly refer to the family as “Holmes, party of seven” because Bonnie and Jeremy Holmes, who prayed so long for a child to adopt, now celebrate the adoption of five.
This will be a big Christmas for the little ones who are 6, 5, 4, 3 and 15 months of age. On Oct. 15, they officially became “the Holmes children” and for Bonnie Holmes, it has been nothing short of miraculous.
“We were married in 2004, and had always wanted to have a family,” she said. “God spoke to our hearts that it might happen through adoption rather than biological.”
In 2011, the couple committed to the adoption process and began praying to see what God would do, Holmes said.
They chose Lutheran Services of Georgia, which works with the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services, as their adoption agency. The couple was willing accept a child in a foster-to-adopt placement.
The application process stretched from May 2011 to February 2012. Then the couple waited for a child.
“We felt early on that God was calling us to a sibling group,” Holmes said. “We were willing to take an older child and realized the majority of children would not be infants. We didn’t go into it saying we wanted five, but that was God’s plan for us.”
In summer of 2012, the couple got a call about four little brothers who needed a home.
“We had thought maybe two or three, so we prayed about it and said ‘yes.’” Holmes said. “Shortly after that they contacted us again and said, ‘There is a baby due. Will you be willing to take the baby as well because it will also need a home?’ We prayed again and took a deep breath and said yes. So our little baby girl was born Sept. 1.”
The biological siblings were then in two different foster homes, so the Holmes couple visited them on weekends. They also had all the children visit their home and spend the night together.
“It was very special for them to stay together,” Holmes said.
Gradually the visits led to the Holmes couple becoming foster parents to the children, and a year later the adoptions became finalized.
“However, in their little hearts and minds, we were already a family,” Holmes said. “The older ones were aware their names had not changed yet. They were very anxious for their names to change.”
A picture taken on the courthouse steps on Oct. 15, the day the courts finalized the adoptions, tells the story. In the photo, the children and their parents can barely contain their smiles.
“They were very excited to get dressed up and they realized the significance of that day,” Holmes said. “Our whole family had to appear before Judge (Samuel) Ozburn in Newton County. He signed the adoption decree and everything was final. They kept asking us ‘When are we going to see the judge?’ We made it a very special day. They got special outfits. We went out to eat at a buffet afterward. A lot of family and friends, especially church friends attended that day. The older children will always remember.”
They also have a special memento from the judge.
“The children didn’t have to speak, but Jeremy introduced each child and the judge gave each one a stuffed animal they could name,” Holmes said. “That was very special and they treasure those stuffed animals from Judge Ozburn. It was an assortment of puppy dogs, a stuffed fish, a lion and other animals.”
For the Holmes couple, the experience has been a time of seeing God at work, they said.
“It’s probably a little crazier than anyone or we imagined, but God is good and God is faithful,” she said. “His abundance is amazing and miraculous in ways we never imagined. It is worth every bit of work for the joy that we have and we do give God all the glory.”
Bonnie and Jeremy Holmes are quick to thank their church, Rockdale Alliance, and in fact, the entire community for overwhelming support.
“They have been very instrumental in providing for us and helping us with child care and making sure we’re fed,” Holmes said. “They still bring us meals several times a week just to ease the burden. They love the children and pray for them. We’re very blessed and grateful for a close church family.”
Holmes said support has also come from the school where she teaches and from friends and family in other local churches. Grandparents have also been important to the children, Holmes said, and the kids are excited to play with their new cousins.
Holmes said she was especially thankful for the network of support when doctors discovered a tumor in her chest a year ago. The tumor was removed in January and while it was benign, Holmes endured a long recovery.
“But again, God proved faithful and provided in every way and met every need,” she said.
Bonnie Holmes, née Philpott, graduated from Heritage High School and now teaches music at Bay Creek Elementary in Walton County. Jeremy Holmes grew up in Conyers, graduated from Philadelphia Christian Academy and has worked as a fireman for the city of Covington for many years. His sons sometimes say they want to be firemen like their daddy, Mrs. Holmes said.
“They’re just precious children,” she said. “They’re smart and healthy. They’re just happy to have a mom and a dad in the home. They don’t take anything for granted. They are truly grateful, appreciative and happy to have the basics.”
Beth Slaughter Sexton is a freelance writer based in Gwinnett County. Contact her at email@example.com.