Adoption agencies are hoping the overwhelming interest in five Kansas siblings who are in need of a family is an indication that Americans are becoming more open to the prospect of adopting children.
On March 11, The Kansas City Star published an ad in the "Family Wanted" section of its website. Titled "Five Siblings Want to Stay Together," the ad introduced five Kansas children whose ages range from 2 to 11 and who want to be adopted by the same family.
Corey Lada of the Kansas Children’s Service League said he was taken aback by the level of interest expressed by people across the country.
"This is a viral response ... and it's pretty insane," he told The Kansas City Star. "In 13-plus years of working here I’ve seen nothing like this. Nothing."
The Children's Service League was overwhelmed by inquiries from people who wanted to know more about the adoption process. After only two days on the website, the ad was clicked on more than 4 million times. The response was so great that AdoptKSKids.org had to remove the ad so its staff could focus on the inquiries that had already been made.
"It's a great crisis to have," Lada said.
While the siblings are currently in separate foster homes, Lada said placement workers are determined to find a family that will adopt all five of them and keep them in Kansas.
Joni Hiatt, Kansas director of programs for FosterAdopt Connect, said adopting a single child is difficult enough because of the trauma most orphans have experienced in their pasts.
"Multiply that by five and that’s asking a lot," Hiatt said. "But that bond between siblings is the strongest thing they’ve got when parents are gone. My hope is that people expressing interest genuinely want to see these children kept together."
People who inquired from out of state, as well as those who are unable to adopt all five siblings, are being referred to national adoption agencies where they can explore other opportunities to adopt children in need.
"They may not be children receiving as much attention as these five, but they are in just as much need of good homes," said Theresa Freed, a spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Children and Families.
John Levesque, deputy project director for AdoptUSKids.org, is eager to find out how big of an impact all this will have at the national level.
"We’ll stay in touch with Kansas to see what we can do with these overwhelming numbers -- causing what I call 'good stress,'" he said. "Now, how many of those people are willing to move forward ... to maybe become a full-time foster or adoptive family in their communities?"