Pam and Gary Willis were ready to put their feet up on the couch, relax, and do nothing if the mood suited them. She was 50. He was 53. And they were empty nesters.
They had plenty of room to spare in a six-bedroom home in Menifee, California. But most importantly, they had plenty of room in their hearts.
And so, as Pam Willis scrolled through her Facebook feed in 2019, her heart spoke to her when she read a story about seven brothers and sisters in need of a permanent home.
The children — who ranged in age from 1 to 12 — had languished in foster care for more than a year after losing both parents in a car accident.
“One January day, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when a news story post hit my heart like the biggest ton of bricks,” she wrote on Instagram. ‘Seven Siblings in Need of Forever Home’ it said. In that instant, their sweet smiling faces jumped off of the screen and into my heart.
I tagged my husband in the post.
I thought about them all day.
That evening I asked my husband if he’d seen the post. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘We should adopt them.’
My heart stopped. ‘We should,’ I said.”
The couple had been fostering kids for years, but they had never considered adoption. But seven kids?
“I can’t explain it — I just knew I was supposed to be their mom,” Pam, 50, told today.com.
Two would eventually become nine. Welcome to the family Adelino, 15, Ruby, 13, Aleecia, 9, Anthony, 8, Aubriella, 7, Leo, 5, and Xander, 4. The adoption became legal last August. Among the witnesses: Pam and Gary’s biological children, Matthew, 32, Andrew, 30, Alexa, 27, Sophia, 23, and Sam, 20. There are also eight grandchildren in the mix.
It’s kinda the Brady Bunch, but on steroids.
Not surprisingly, the children had dealt with a great deal of trauma. Life before foster care had been rougher in some ways, as their late late parents struggled with addiction. The family was forced to live in homeless encampments, where food was scarce.
It took months to break down walls of distrust, but Pam and Gary did just that.
“They’ve given us a second chance at parenting, we’ve given them a second Mom and Dad,” Pam wrote on her Instagram page. “They are our Second Chance 7.”
You can follow the family on Instagram @second.chance.7