Jon and Christi Braun of Justin, Texas, had adopted two children — Aliyah and Anna — and had one of their own — Brayden — when they became involved with the World America Adoption Association, a Christian ministry that brings American couples together with orphans from other countries.
They learned that four orphan siblings in an Ethiopian orphanage were available for adoption. Being a spiritual family, they began to pray that a home would be found for these children.
After a time, they were moved to consider making them a part of their family. They went through the adoption process and were approved.
The family took several trips to Ethiopia to become acquainted with the children. Christi said the orphans were so excited about having a mom and dad.
“When we first met them,” 10-year-old Anna said, “Ava gave me a big hug.”
On Oct. 30, 2010, the Brauns brought the four newcomers to their home in Justin, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Anna, her 12-year-old sister Aliyah, and 5-year-old brother Brayden were joined by Blaize, 12, Brodie, 10, Ava, 9, and Brennan, 5.
The Brauns taught their children that, through confession of sin and belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior, they are all children of God through adoption, as the Bible says. That concept is a strong unifying force.
“I love being part of a big family,” Anna said. “If I didn’t have any brothers and sisters, I would be by myself and it wouldn’t be any fun.”
“Brayden loves having brothers,” Christi Braun said. “Brayden and Brennan call each other twins.”
The Brauns said Anna, who was adopted as a newborn, blossomed after the other four children joined their home.
“She became more outgoing,” Christi said. “She cared about them and became their friend, and they love her.”
All of the children except Aliyah are home-schooled. Their mother is well-suited for the job, having a master’s degree in education and having taught at all levels. She said the Ethopian children learned English quickly.
Jon’s job as a commercial airline pilot usually takes him away from home for four days a week. On the days he is home, he sometimes teaches science to the children. Jon is a piano player and currently is teaching piano to four of the children. They all sing in church choirs.
Each child has daily chores to fulfill, such as cleaning and cooking.
“They all like to help in the kitchen and participate in fixing meals,” Christi said.
The older ones help the younger ones get dressed in the morning.
School hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. After that, the children are free to spend time with their neighborhood friends, many of whom also are home-schooled.
Anna said she and her older brothers fight a lot, but Christi said they are tight and work well together.
The couple has a 15-passenger van to transport the family. They can fly free because of Jon’s job, but they sometimes take road vacations. In October, the couple went on a mission trip to Haiti with three of their children.
They have a weekly family night when they learn lessons from the Bible and participate in group activities.
Jon is a son of Jack and LaVerna Braun of Hillsboro. He graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1988.
He said he was already interested in flying as a young boy, often biking out to the Hillsboro airport to wait for an incoming flight. He read about flying and collected books on the subject.
After one year at Tabor College, he enrolled in an aeronautical school in Florida and became a commercial pilot. That is where he met his wife. They have been married for almost 19 years. They were married five years before their first adoption.
“We always knew we wanted to have a large family,” Christi said, “but didn’t expect it to happen like this.”
To read more about the family’s activities, log on to Christi’s blog at It’s Wonderfully Crazy.