|Jason and Melissa Owens are parents to seven children ages 1 to 11.|
Photo courtesy Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
PRESCOTT VALLEY, Arizona - Jason Owens said he and his wife, Melissa, were called to this lifestyle by God.
They're the biological parents of two kids, Jaylynn, 11 and Jaron, 9.
They're the adoptive parents of three others, Derik, 6, Julia, 4, and Jasmine, 2. And they're foster parents to two others, two young boys.
The adopted children are "medically fragile," as Jason, 38, phrases it. In fact, in January, their first adopted child, Jeremiah, died at 6 years old of a disease called schizencephaly.
"Derik was a shaken baby," who has bone damage and is blind, Jason said. He was walking and talking at 16 months before the abuse began.
"Julia was a severe drug baby," he said, and is unable to walk.
"Jasmine had her own special needs," Melissa ,32, added.
Jeremiah will always hold a special place in their hearts, and to memorialize him, they have a three-panel montage of special photos on one wall of the house.
The couple both came from large families with lots of kids, Jason said, which made having several children around feel like a normal family.
Jason said that caring for special needs children "just came naturally" to them, but more importantly, "It's something we're called to do, and we love to do it.
"We fully believe that God has provided us a way to do this, and He is the reason we can do it everyday," he said, noting that he believes they were meant to serve.
"We're very blessed. We've been shown great love, and we want to show that," he said. "The kids just soak it up. It's much bigger than getting their needs provided for."
Jason co-owns Christian Brothers Cleaning, a carpet-cleaning business, and, although running a business doesn't typically come with a lot of free time, it does allow him to work primarily from home.
"I have a business partner" who handles the actual cleaning, he said, he does the management office work.
That means he's around the house to help take care of the kids. "We just get up every day and do what we have to do," he said. Many days, that means driving kids to therapies or other doctor appointments in Phoenix or Flagstaff.
Asked if he wanted to consider more adoptions, Jason said, "We're always open to that, however God leads us to answer that question...I don't think we're done by any stretch."
"It's a busy house," Melissa said.
"And we wouldn't have it any other way," Jason finished.
Father's Day activities will include bundling the whole clan into the family's full-size van for a drive to visit Bearizona near Williams. They've been before, but "the kids love the animals," Jason said.