Single Father Adopts 5 Siblings Under 5: 'They Deserve to Be Raised as Siblings'

Rachel DeSantis

Saturday, Nov. 23 marks National Adoption Day, and PEOPLE is taking a look back at some of the most inspiring adoption stories of 2019. This story was originally published on Oct. 25.

A long-time foster father added five more children to his brood when he took in a group of siblings under the age of five as his own.

Lamont Thomas became a father of 12 when he adopted Zendaya, 5, Jamel, 4, Nakia, 3, Major, 2, and Michaela, 1, in Buffalo, New York on Oct. 17, Good Morning America reported.

“I was fighting to keep back the tears,” Thomas told the morning show. “Every day I think about it, my eyes swell up. All that we endured to make this happen, it was something.”

Thomas began fostering children in 2000 and has since welcomed more than 30 kids into his home.

“In the beginning, I was helping out some friends. They had lost their child to the system. I went on and got certified and became a foster parent. I haven’t stopped since,” he told GMA.

He first learned of the siblings’ plight because their father was one of the many Thomas once fostered.

Lamont Thomas and his children | WGRZ

They had been separated for more than a year-and-a-half and had spent time in four different homes in four different cities before Thomas swooped in two years ago and took them in as foster children.

“I fought for close to two-and-a-half years just to be able to get them together, and we won, we got it,” he told NBC affiliate WGRZ. “I wanted to be the difference, I wanted to make a difference by being a difference for these youth.”

Zendaya, Jamel, Nakia, Major, and Michaela join Thomas’ other children, twins Germayne and Tremayne, Jamie, German and Michael, the first child he ever fostered, as well as his biological kids Anthony and LaMonica.

RELATED: Gay Dads Adopt 6 Siblings, Ages 7 to 14, After They Spent Half a Decade in Foster Care

“Lamont never turned [a child] away,” Michael, now 27, told GMA. “They either aged out or went back home to their own families.

Thomas joked that expanding his family with the energy of toddlers means he’s “come out of retirement.”

“They bring new energy to me,” he told GMA. “They’re lovable kids, very affectionate. They deserve to be raised as siblings, and that was my fight.”