Their wait is over: See the smiles on the faces of these recently adopted kids.
For many families, deciding to add one child to the family is exciting and challenging. But choosing to adopt two, three, or four kids at once can be a bit daunting.
Not so for families like the Haddaways, though. They've adopted seven kids from the foster care system, and they're still considering adopting more.
There are about 415,000 kids in the foster care system. While many of them will eventually be reunited with their families or relatives, around 102,000 are waiting to be adopted.
Because of safeguards, legal proceedings, and lots of red tape, these very patient kids spend an average of 32 months in the system before finding permanent placements. For certain kids, especially older kids or groups of siblings, that wait can be even longer.
There are many families like the Haddaways, though, that are working to adopt foster kids and give them forever homes.
Keeping sibling groups together can be especially beneficial for children and parents alike.
When siblings have the opportunity to stay together through foster care and adoption, it can ease the sometimes scary and difficult process of transitioning from placement to placement. Even if they fight or argue, brothers and sisters often support each other and provide much needed consistency.
Together We Rise is a nonprofit organization that works to improve the lives of kids in foster care, including sibling groups.
The staff (many of whom were foster youth) work with community partners and volunteers to raise awareness about the foster care system. One way they do this is by celebrating "Gotcha Days," the special day that kids in foster care are legally adopted into their new families.
For these 11 sibling groups and their new parents, these photos are celebrations of Iove, patience, and triumph over overwhelming odds:
1. All aboard! These young sailors are charting a course for lots of family fun.
2. These little ladies are celebrating their Gotcha Day in style.
3. A day like this calls for hugs all around.
4. These sisters get a boost from their new brother and join six other siblings at home.
5. These sweet girls came to this family as newborns. 908 days later, they're officially home.
Their parent told Together We Rise, "They came to me at nine days old. I was given a giant blue bag with 6 diapers, blankets, premie clothes, and a yellow duck. Today, I get to be a part of their lives FOREVER."
6. Just one more stop for these suitcases: home.
7. You can feel the joy radiating from this brother and sister.
8. After 1,008 days of waiting, these brothers and their sister were adopted together.
9. No one said the process would be easy, but for these families, it's so worth it.
"The experience has been looooooong but so worth every single second to know my girls are part of our forever family," the Pauleys told Together We Rise. "Our girls are our sunshine and they deserve every happiness they can ever imagine!"
10. A new last name and a new big sister? Best. Day. Ever.
Here's to these delighted sibs and their new families!
To the thousands of kids still waiting, we haven't forgotten about you.
You are loved and wanted. And until each one of you has the safe, happy home you deserve, we won't stop fighting for you.