Ah, siblings. With them comes tension, rivalry, and blatant annoyance. Sometimes you just can’t help but imagine what life would’ve been like as an only child. But it’s been wisely said that siblings are the only enemies you can’t live without… so imagine what it would be like to be separated from them.
Well, five little ones from Kansas appreciate each other more than your typical gang of siblings for just this reason. Desperate to stay together while society tried to tear them apart, their gripping journey will make you want to call your own brothers and sisters just to tell them that you love them.
Bradley, 11, Preston, 10, Layla, 8, Landon, 6, and Olive, 2, only had each other after they were removed from their mother’s custody in 2016. They knew the foster system would likely send them each to different homes, and they were terrified.
As the two oldest, Bradley and Preston felt a responsibility to keep their family together. But it wouldn’t be easy. In fact, the separation of siblings when they enter the foster system is often the rule and not the exception.
Layla and Landon were younger than their big brothers, and they were even more terrified of being separated forever. Unfortunately, the siblings were initially placed in different homes, just like they feared they would be.
Even baby Olive cried when she learned they would be separated. Theresa Freed, communications director for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, disappointingly said, “Unfortunately, this case isn’t unusual.” But did it have to be this way?
Freed confirmed their fears. “We have always wanted the children to remain together, but it’s often difficult to find foster homes that take in large sibling groups,” she continued. At this point, things weren’t looking good for the charming kids who so badly wanted to reassemble their little family. But then, something changed…
You see, the Kansas City Star, their local paper, heard about the plight of this adorable squad of kids. Writers decided to write up a feature about the kids in the hopes of reaching a family willing to adopt them all together, the way they belonged.
The Kansas City Star
The write-up of the five brothers and sisters, and the adorable photos that came with it, hit more than just a few heartstrings. Theresa couldn’t believe the tremendous impact the story was having. Would it actually help them find a forever home?
Their fortunes seemed to be turning! “So many people were able to instantly see these children in their family, and after learning more about the kids by reading their bios, that desire to adopt them grew,” Theresa said. And grew it did.
The Wichita Eagle
The Kansas cuties garnered 4 million clicks on their profile and got more than 3,000 adoption requests subsequent to the Kansas City Star issue they were featured in. People instantly fell in love with these kids, and it soon became clear they would have the family of their dreams!
But there was a hitch. Out of the thousands who pleaded to provide love and a home for the Fab Five, caseworkers narrowed the enthusiastic list down to seven families, and they knew enthusiasm didn’t necessarily equal qualifications.
“The kids are very active and they’d like a family with a house large enough for them to run and play and be kids,” said Theresa. “We’re going to do our very best to make that happen.”
Although families from as far as Ireland and New Zealand showed interest in the siblings, caseworkers were working hard to keep them in Kansas, and it looked like through some miracle that just might happen.
It was Jeff and Toni Whaley of Douglas County, Kansas, who seemed to be the perfect pair for the siblings. Weirdly, the couple, who had served as foster parents for years, applied to adopt the kids just days before the Kansas City Star piece went viral.
When a judge officially appointed the Whaleys as parents to the five angels, Jeff said that they “feel blessed.” Layla added, “It was really, really important that we stay together.”
The Kansas City Star
The Whaleys could give their new children the home they always dreamed of, complete with pet chickens, a big backyard, and plenty of hayrides. It seems like things really couldn’t get any more heartwarming, but miraculously, they did.
After the Fab Five’s beautiful story gained international attention, state officials disclosed that it helped attract other families to the adoption route. We can only hope that the Whaleys’ journey continues to inspire. Every adoption should be so open and loving, but sadly, sometimes things are more complicated.
In 1997, Ron and Natalie Trecroce made the decision to adopt a child. The Canadian couple found themselves in Arad, Romania where they hoped to find the perfect addition for their family. When they saw this one-year-old girl, they knew she was the one!
Her name was Rodica Lavinia Farcas, and she was living in an orphanage where she had been left by her mother who couldn’t care for her. She was also in shockingly poor health—that much was evident to Ron and Natalie as soon as they met her.
The sweet little girl was malnourished, which had caused a host of other issues. She was suffering from rickets, and her bones were weak thanks to a severe lack of vitamin D and other nutrients. Still, there was more the couple had yet to discover…
In the 1990s, the records of children in Romania were notoriously difficult to obtain. So, Ron and Natalie were in a bit of a bind when it came to getting ahold of everything they would need in the future for Rodica.
Due to the difficulty of obtaining her records, Ron and Natalie were at a bit of a loss when it came to understanding their new daughter’s life up to that point. This was especially true when it came to her family history…
As Ron and Natalie continued to search for more information about their new baby girl, they eventually came upon a shocking discovery: Rodica wasn’t an only child. In fact, she had an older sister! Only, they weren’t sure where this sister was…
For unknown reasons, the sisters had been placed in separate orphanages. This made locating Rodica’s older sister far more difficult. Still, Ron and Natalie knew they had to try. Following an exhaustive search, they discovered where Rodica’s sister was being cared for. Not only that, but they learned her name was Gianina Farcas!
Gianina was born in 1995, making her a year older than Rodica. Once Ron and Natalie discovered where she was living, they made a serious decision: they were going to adopt her as well and reunite her with her younger sister. Finally, they made it so. But that wasn’t all…
After Ron and Natalie arrived back in Canada, the surprises just kept coming. As it turned out, Rodica and Gianina weren’t the only two children in their family. They were simply two of eight!
Unfortunately, Ron and Natalie were unable to track down any of the other siblings. Not long after they were brought home, Gianina and Rodica were renamed Sophie and Danielle, respectively.
Ron and Natalie decided to keep the girls’ birth names as their middle names so they could retain a piece of where they came from. It was a small gesture, but it was important for their baby girls to not lose their identities.
The tumultuous start to Sophie and Danielle’s lives was not unusual in 1990s Romania. The country was then under the control of a dictator named Nicolae Ceauşescu, who forbade any form of contraception whatsoever. This resulted in countless cases similar to that of Sophie and Danielle.
Many of the parents in Romania at the time were forced to give up children who they could no longer care for. The luckiest ones would end up being adopted by other families who could support them—just like Sophie and Danielle.
A good bit of footage exists of these two girls; six years after they were adopted, a documentary filmmaker showed interest in telling their story. With Ron and Natalie’s approval, the girls’ journey from Arad to Canada was made into a film.
Years later, Sophie actually edited the full documentary into a short film, which she uploaded to YouTube. That allowed the film to reach more people, including a number of people with similar backgrounds to Sophie and Danielle.
For her part, Danielle says that she hopes to return to her home country, hopefully sometime in 2018. “I would love to go back to explore the country!” she said.
Both sisters would, understandably, love to learn more about their biological parents and siblings. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, as poor documentation will make it very difficult to locate them.
Sophie, now 22, is studying to be a photographer, and Danielle, 21, is also in college. They live close by, and often think about how far they’ve come. Not everyone was as lucky as they were!
Had Ron and Natalie Trecroce never gone to Romania, they might have never located Sophie, and the sisters wouldn’t have reunited. Luckily, they did, and the rest is history!