Until Wednesday of this week, Douglas County couple Jeff and Toni Whaley had no children of their own. Now they have five, all biological siblings, and they would not have it any other way.
“We feel blessed,” Jeff Whaley told the Kansas City Star whose weekly “Family Wanted” feature eventually alerted millions of people worldwide to the fate of the “Fab Five” siblings, three boys and two girls, ages 3 to 12.
The kids felt blessed as well. “It was really, really important that we stay together,” said nine-year-old Layla.
“There is nothing better than an adoption, in part because you came into this courtroom happy and I get to let you leave happy,” Johnson County District Judge Kathleen Sloan told the children during Wednesday’s ceremony.
Fortunately for the Whaleys, they had seen a video produced by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) and applied for adoption before the Star story went viral.
From the beginning, DCF had worked to keep the siblings together in Kansas. For some time, the children had been living in two separate foster homes in central Kansas, the girls in one home, the boys in another.
The Whaleys had experience with foster care, having opened their home to foster children in the past. They were prepared to adopt as many as three kids, but the Fab Five proved irresistible. The kids had been living quietly with them for some months before the adoption.
The adoption was arranged by Saint Francis Community Services of Salina, whose mission it is to proclaim “the Good News of Christ by telling our story and living it through our words and example.”
Saint Francis is one of those organizations whose work is now shielded by the Adoption Protection Act recently passed into law in Kansas over much protest.
Kudos to Shook, Hardy & Bacon attorney Gene Balloun who assisted the Whaleys without charge as he has done for more than 1,000 other families seeking to adopt. Balloun himself has served as a foster parent to some 29 children over the years.
The Whaley’s Facebook Page makes no mention of the children or the adoption, but past postings suggest that the kids’ new parents are active Christians who love animals, not to mention trucks, motorcycles, and sports.
Their love of children, though, is in another category of “love” altogether.