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Couple adopts seven siblings after parents die in car accident

A US couple has adopted seven siblings who ranged in age from 1 to 12 after their parents lost their lives in a dangerous car crash.

The children had been in foster care for more than one year after their parents died in a car accident before they were noticed by a woman, Pam Willis, while scrolling through her Facebook feed in 2019. She read the news story of the siblings who were in need of a permanent home.

The children, who ranged in age from 1 to 12, had been in foster care for more than a year after losing both parents in a horrific car crash.

The 50-year-old Pam Willis told TODAY Parents that she cannot explain it and she just knows she was supposed to be their mum.



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A post shared by Pam Willis (@second.chance.7)


She tagged her husband, 53-year-old Gary Willis, to see the article. The couple, who share five adult children and live in Menifee, California, had been fostering kids for years, but they had never discussed adoption.

“I thought Gary was going to tell me I was wacko — we were getting ready to retire,” Pam admitted. But to Pam’s relief, Gary felt the same exact way she did.

“It was what God wanted us to do,” Pam said.

That night, they called the number listed at the bottom of the story.

“We were told they’d already received thousands of calls,” Pam recalled.



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A post shared by Pam Willis (@second.chance.7)


But two months later, Pam and Gary were matched with Adelino, 15, Ruby, 13, Aleecia, 9, Anthony, 8, Aubriella, 7, Leo, 5, and Xander, 4.

The children, as Pam learned during the screening process, had experienced a great deal of trauma. Their late parents struggled with addiction and the family often lived in homeless encampments. Food was scarce.

“It was easy to connect with the little ones. They were just desperately craving permanency,” Pam revealed. The older two were a little trickier.

“I think they didn’t quite trust that we were real. Like maybe we were going to go away,” Pam said. “I think it’s so hard to trust when so much has been taken from your life. Ruby didn’t know how to be a kid. She had to be a mother figure at a very young age.”

For the first six months, the kids struggled with sleep. There were frequent nightmares.



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A post shared by Pam Willis (@second.chance.7)


“One night, my then-7-year-old came into our room,” Pam recalled. “I asked her, ‘Did you have a bad dream?’ And she replied, ‘No, I just wanted to make sure that you were still here.’”

Pam isn’t going anywhere. Last August, she and Gary adopted Aleecia and her six brothers and sisters. The emotional ceremony was attended virtually by Pam and Gary’s biological children, Matthew, 32, Andrew, 30, Alexa, 27, Sophia, 23, and Sam, 20.

“It was awesome,” Pam said. “We brought a big TV screen out to the park so everybody could watch and cheer and be safe during COVID. There was so much love.”



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A post shared by Pam Willis (@second.chance.7)



The Willis’ story recently caught the eye of actor Kristen Bell after Pam shared an Instagram video called “Our life in 15 seconds!” Bell was so touched by the footage that she posted it on her Instagram story.

The clip starts with Pam and Gary first meeting as teens in 1988 and ends with the adoption.

“They’ve given us a second chance at parenting, we’ve given them a second Mum and Dad,” Pam wrote. “They are our Second Chance 7.”



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