One day in 2019, Pam Willis was scrolling through her Facebook feed when she encountered a heartbreaking news story. It was about seven siblings looking for a permanent home.
The children had been in foster care for over a year after losing their parents in a car crash in May 2018. Their car flipped onto its side and led their 42-year-old dad and 31-year-old mom to suffer fatal injuries.
Each of the kids suffered varying degrees of injuries during the accident. Luckily, none of them were life-threatening. They had no other family to look after them, so the four brothers and three sisters were put up for adoption after making a full recovery.
When Pam, an attorney, saw their photos, she couldn’t stop staring at their hopeful faces.
“I can’t explain it — I just knew I was supposed to be their mom,” the 50-year-old told TODAY Parents.
Pam tagged her husband, US Navy veteran Gary Willis, 53, so he would see the write-up. She wrote, “Omg stop! Gary, can we adopt them?”
The couple from Menifee, California, share five adult children. They have been fostering kids for years. However, they had never discussed adoption, so Pam was sure that Gary would disagree.
“I thought Gary was going to tell me I was wacko — we were getting ready to retire,” Pam recalled.
But to her relief—and surprise—Gary felt the same way she did.
“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,” Pam told Metro UK.
That same night, they called the number listed at the bottom of the article. They were told that they had already received thousands of calls from people interested in taking in Adelino, 15, Ruby, 13, Aleecia, 9, Anthony, 8, Aubriella, 7, Leo, 5, and Xander, 4.
But two months later, Pam and Gary were matched with the siblings!
During the screening process, the couple learned that the kids had experienced a great deal of trauma. Their late parents battled with addiction, and the family often stayed in homeless encampments.
Pam revealed it was easier connecting with the younger kids because “they were just desperately craving permanency.” The older two were trickier, and Pam completely understands why.
“I think they didn’t quite trust that we were real. Like maybe we were going to go away,” she said. “I think it’s so hard to trust when so much has been taken from your life. Ruby didn’t know how to be a kid. She had to be a mother figure at a very young age.”
Since first moving in with them in June 2019, Pam said the children have been a joy to be around. The kids even call them “mom” and “dad,” and they have also developed close relationships with their biological older children.
The first six months involved a lot of adjustment. The kids struggled with sleep and frequently had nightmares. One night, her then 7-year-old came into their room. When Pam asked if she had a bad dream, she replied, “No, I just wanted to make sure that you were still here.”
Pam and Gary proved that they weren’t going anywhere. In August 2020, they officially adopted the seven siblings!
Their biological children, Matthew, 32, Andrew, 30, Alexa, 27, Sophia, 23, and Sam, 20, were present during the virtual ceremony.
“It was awesome,” Pam recalled. “We brought a big TV screen out to the park so everybody could watch and cheer and be safe during COVID. There was so much love.”
Pam and Gary, who are now busy parents of 12, share their family’s adventures on Instagram, where they have amassed 41,000 followers! Follow them to be inspired by their story and incredible generosity.
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