At age 25, Lacey Dunkin wasn’t sure marriage was in the cards for her, but she knew that more than anything that she wanted to be a mom. “I kind of looked at my life and decided that was okay and that I didn’t need marriage,” Lacey, now 32, told PEOPLE.
“But I knew that if I wasn’t a mom, I would regret it my whole life.” She became certified to adopt in June 2011 and received an emergency call seeking a foster mother only months later. The catch? Lacey would have to open her home to not one, but four young girls.
“I can’t tell you why I felt so compelled to say yes, but I did,” she said. “And I didn’t even consider not keeping them together. It was all or nothing to me.” Just hours later, the girls moved in with Lacey, who was living with her parents in California at the time.
The sisters formed a special bond with Lacey almost immediately. But after 9 months, their birth mother regained custody of the four girls, Sophia, Natalie, Melanie, and Kaylee, as well as newborn Lea, who had been staying with a different foster family.
“It was a little over a month later when she called and asked if I’d be willing to adopt all five girls,” said Lacey. “I was shocked, because that must have been a hard decision to make. She had been considering it for a few weeks, but was worried that her family might judge her. ”
The birth mother’s decision to give up her daughters showed she loved them more than she loved herself—she needed to do what was best for the girls. As for Lacey, she never once considered separating the sisters from one another. During the year-long adoption process, the mother found out she was pregnant with a sixth child, who Lacey also agreed to adopt.
“They bring me so much joy, and chaos, but life would be so empty and bland and boring without them,” said Lacey. “It’s an honor to be their mother, they melt my heart.”
Now that about over three years have gone by since Lacey adopted the six girls, she says her home feels complete. The stay-at-home-mom currently lives in Fresno, California, with Sophia, 9; Natalie and Melanie,7, Kaylee, 6, Lea, 4, and Cecily, 2.
Want to fall even more in love with this family? Read Lacey’s note on motherhood below: