WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — “They have come such a long way,” said Sandra Santos, gazing at three children in her living room.

Even though she is the mom of three grown children and a grandmom to eight, she has room in her heart for more parenting.

When her niece couldn’t care for her baby, the Santos’ took him in.

“We had Mason; he was our first. Then we got Benji; that was another call we got,” said Santos. “So, we were happy right away. I went out and got everything we needed.”

11-year-old Mason and 6-year-old Benji are biological brothers, joined by sister Isabella who is four.

Sandra and her husband, Rey, have now adopted all three, raising a second family in their late fifties.

“It’s just the simple fact of them calling me ‘Mommy.’ It’s beyond words,” said Santos.

“They have just been the most wonderful family to work with,” said Amy Allegro, a Department of Children and Families social worker.

She said this story provides a great look at ‘kinship adoption’ when relatives step-up and take-in kids who need stable homes.

“DCF, our main goal is, if we can, if they can’t be with the biological parents, to reach out to family first. It’s so important; it gives them a picture of their past,” said Allegro.

And, in this case, siblings could stay together.

While the children were initially delayed in walking and talking, they’ve made huge progress thanks to the Santos’ love.

“It’s like we try to compensate for what they should have gotten,” said Santos.

Now they’re making memories while planning for the future, supporting each other, and loving each other as a bonded family.

“In the past, I might have thought I wasn’t able to, but when you’re there, you know you can,” says Santos.

If you’re interested in learning more about the state’s foster and adoption program, call 1-888-kid-hero or click here.