Couple adopts seven siblings after their parents die in a car crash
A couple have adopted seven siblings aged under 16 who survived a car crash which killed their parents.
Despite having five children of their own, Pam and Gary Willis, from Menifee, California, made the incredible decision to give the seven youngsters a home after reading about their heartbreaking story on Facebook.
As part of Adoption Month, we spoke to the family about their story.
The children, from San Diego, California, were orphaned in May 2018 after the family’s car left the highway and flipped onto its side leading to their 42-year-old dad and 31-year-old mom suffering fatal injuries. With no family to look after them the four brothers and three sisters were put up for adoption and risked being split up, but thanks to Pam, 49, and Gary, 52, the youngsters were handed a second chance at life and welcomed into a loving family home.
Pam, an attorney, said: ‘When I saw the news about the kids it made me so sad. I looked at them and could see they needed a forever home.
‘I saw home much these kids needed someone to love them because they had no one else to go to. I called the adoption service every week to show them how much I wanted to help these children.
‘From the moment we first met them it was instant love. I looked at Gary and we both could see they are really great kids and knew we were doing the right thing.
‘We are blessed to have the opportunity to do what we’re doing and it was great fun to bring them into their home and tell them it is their forever home. They are all immensely happy and they do show us gratitude for what we’ve done for them.
‘We have never looked back since the day we met them and never doubted what we’re doing is the right thing to do.’
Pam and Gary were involved in the foster care system for several years before adopting the ‘magnificent seven’, as Pam calls them, but only ever took care of one child at a time. The couple have five grown up biological children, Matthew, 32, Andrew, 29, Alexa, 26, Sophia, 22 and Sam, 19, who have all left home, and also have six grandchildren.
They admit that up until January 2019 they never had plans to adopt at all, but that all changed when Pam was scrolling through and she saw a news report about seven siblings who needed a home after losing their parents in a car crash. Each of the children suffered minor injuries during the accident and having made a full recovery were in need of a safe place to call home
Pam said she and US Army veteran, Gary, didn’t think twice before phoning the adoption services to lodge their interest in taking all seven of the youngsters. Several weeks later, in March last year, the couple were given permission to visit the orphans with a view to permanent adoption.
‘I was determined to show that our house is safe and that we have the knowledge and experience required’, said Pam.
‘I hated the thought of having a big six-bed house that’s empty because my kids have grown up and moved out. I didn’t want to have all these rooms and no one to live in them.
‘We met them at a park and they had already been in a children’s home for a year and were desperate for stability. We had our concerns but we knew what we wanted to do as soon as we met them.’
Three months later, in June last year, Pam and Gary became parents of 12 when they welcomed Adelino, 15, Ruby, 13, Aleecia, eight, Anthony, seven, Aubriella, six Leo, five and Xander, four, into their home for the first time. Pam added that despite some early teething problems with settling in, such as trust issues and sleep disturbances, the youngsters have been ‘a joy’ to have around since the day they moved in.
The children even call their adopted parents mom and dad, and have already developed close relationships with Pam and Gary’s biological older children, and have been on vacation to places like Disneyland Resort in California as a family. The ‘magnificent seven’ have been part of the Willis family for 15 months now and Pam believes they are happier now than ever before.
She said: ‘My older kids were very welcoming and treated the younger ones like their own. It is pretty full on looking after seven children so my older two daughters do help out whenever I need a hand.
‘I have noticed how incredibly happy they are and that makes me so happy too, because that’s all we ask for. The oldest of the seven, Adelino, said to me recently ‘thank you for giving us this life’ and there is no other feeling like that.
‘The kids are great kids and we love having them around.’
Adoption Month is a month-long series covering all aspects of adoption.
For the next four weeks, which includes National Adoption Week from 14-19 October, we will be speaking to people who have been affected by adoption in some way, from those who chose to welcome someone else’s child into their family to others who were that child.
We’ll also be talking to experts in the field and answering as many questions as possible associated with adoption, as well as offering invaluable advice along the way.
If you have a story to tell or want to share any of your own advice please do get in touch at [email protected]
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