PHOTOGRAPHED BY RACHEL TURAN IN LINDEN, NEW JERSEY
The Sanchez-Berrios brothers now live in suburban Linden, NJ. But their lives have been a roller coaster over the last two years. In 2016, the boys were removed from their home due to their mother's drug use and neglect.
Logan had a high fever when the boys were removed from their home in Newark, and the fear was palpable throughout the DCF van as they piled in, unsure of their destination
Between getting food for his brothers on the streets of Newark and telling them things would be okay when he didn’t know that they would be, Xavier played the role of the father for much of his childhood.
On top of being ill on the night of their removal, Logan had also gone through heroin withdrawal when he was born, a result of his mother’s use while pregnant.
Newleyweds Benecia Sanchez and Edwardo Berrios heard about the boys when they were volunteering at Boxwood, a mentoring program for troubled youth, and they decided they could take the boys into their home. Their first ever foster placement was an emergency removal of five brothers.
Benecia spent $1,000 dollars on the boys the first night. She said she had to teach them how to properly bathe and brush their teeth. Taking in five brothers was a huge, life changing decision -- one that resulted in growth, transformation, and a lot more superhero action figures.
The couple acknowledges how parenting together has put a strain on their relationship. Between different parenting styles, full time work, and balancing five boys' schedules, they don’t have much time for themselves.
The family even bought a new home to have more space for the boys.
Xavier continues to fight against the fatherly tendencies he learned in his youth.
It’s been a difficult transition for him as the oldest brother since he experienced the most time with his biological parents. He had an especially difficult time when his biological mother passed away earlier this year.
Benecia and Edwardo love the love that they both have for the boys. In fact, at times it’s what holds them together.
The boys have a brighter future than the one they left behind in Newark. They were officially adopted on June 4, 2019.