In challenging times, it's easy to shut down and feel hopeless, especially when the circumstances are out of your control. But not all are dissuaded from turning the bad into something beautiful.
Faced with tragedies of their own, these three families found a way to come together and make the best of their situations, whether it was adopting a pair of siblings with an open heart, welcoming a child into the world and defying the odds amid a health crisis or honoring a dying wish and uniting a family.
Read on to see how the families in this week's issue of PEOPLE managed to find the light in dark times.
Edward and Andrew Senn
From the time Corey and Natalie began dating last year, he was always clear about the fact that he would be responsible for caring for his younger siblings if anything ever happened to his mother, Sue.
Unfortunately, that day came much sooner than the couple thought when Sue died following a battle with lung cancer on July 8 — just days after Natalie gave birth to her and Corey's son Elijah.
Though they only learned of Sue's diagnosis in her final months, Corey and Natalie, 30, didn't hesitate when it came to taking in his three siblings — Jennah, 7, Cody, 8, and Jordan, 11 — all whom were facing a possibility of being split up in foster care.
"I helped my mom take care of my siblings since they were born," says Corey, 27, who works as a farmworker. "I’ve always been close to them."
In addition to newborn Elijah, Corey's younger siblings joined Natalie's two children from previous relationships, Liam, 9, and Isaac, 2.
With six children under the age of 11 living in their two-bedroom apartment in Cambridge, New York, Corey and Natalie began to face a number of challenges. But those stresses were soon alleviated by their community, who set up a GoFundMe campaign and donated clothes, food, toys and money, among other items, to survive.
"My mother worried so much about what was going to happen with the kids when she passed," Corey says. "She would be thrilled to see how everyone’s stepped up to help."
- Reporting by RACHEL DESANTIS and DIANE HERBST
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