To Janice Samit it seemed like fate intervened perfectly.
Three years ago, soon after she and her husband, Brad, were approved as foster parents, an emergency call came. Two small boys would be arriving in a couple of hours, she was told.
Earlier that day, Samit had bought stuffed toy puppies that seemed so cute -- without knowing why. They became welcome gifts for the boys who arrived at her house that evening -- scared, starving for dinner and in need of a bath.
Austin and Brandon, now 4 and 5, started calling Janice and Brad "Mommy" and "Daddy" right away.
Soon, the boys were so adored that when the Samits found out their three older brothers were with another family, they arranged to take them all.
They also bought a bigger house with a pool on a wooded lot in Holland, where the family moved last summer.
Steven, 7, Nicholas, 8, and Eric, 12, joined their younger brothers and Brad's daughter, Alex, 15, from a previous marriage.
"Everything you can see, from start to finish, is that we've been blessed," said Janice Samit, with a sweep of her hand, as she sat at her dining room table -- big enough to accommodate lots of chairs.
On Friday -- National Adoption Day -- it became official. The family went downtown to Erie County Family Court to sign the adoption papers. They were among 13 other children and their new families.
In the eight counties of Western New York, there are another 421 children waiting to be adopted. At least 75 percent are adolescents who long for families, said Patricia Maxwell, a Family Court judge who handles foster care and adoption.
"I, unfortunately, have seen a trend of fewer adoptions over the last few years," said Maxwell, who was adopted as an infant. "I think there's a misconception about adopting older children."
"They're lovable, wonderful children," she said. "They're already sleeping through the night."
The Samits, now married 10 years, decided to become foster parents and consider adopting when they found out they could not have children of their own.
The boys' biological mother was single and unable to care for them.
The Samits can't help but notice how the boys seem to have their man
nerisms and looks.
"A lot of times, I'll just watch. I'll see Brad and me in them," Janice said.
Brad, a Detroit native, and Janice, of West Seneca, met and fell in love while working at a nursing home. Janice, 40, worked as a supervisor, and Brad, 49, as a registered nurse.
"She liked how hard I worked," he said, smiling.
Janice said she was attracted by Brad's thoughtfulness and their goals were the same.
"We both liked the country," she said.
Now, with a house full of children, the two are fulfilled.
Brad likes talking to the boys about life and its lessons, such as the hazards of using credit cards.
"As selfish as it sounds, it makes me feel good about myself. I'll know that when all is said and done, I've lived my life fully," he said recently.
The children were just starting to come home from school. As his parents talked, Austin raced through the house, giggling and answering every question with a mischievous "No!"
In the kitchen, which smelled of beef cooking in the Crock-Pot, oldest brother Eric considered how his life had changed since he was adopted by the Samits.
"It's a lot easier. You don't have to move around a lot," he said.
His sister, Alex, also considered the expanding family.
"At first it was overwhelming. I remember I used to sit up in my room and say, 'Five brothers. Five . . .,' " Alex said. "Now it's like, 'Where are the other two?' "