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All 7 siblings orphaned in crash adopted

Published: May. 11, 2021 at 10:17 AM CDT
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LAKESIDE, Calif. (KGTV) - Three years after a crash orphaned seven children, those siblings have found their forever home.

Surveillance video from May 2018 shows the seven kids running around a U-Haul trailer, playing hide and seek.

It was the night before their parents were killed and all of the kids were seriously hurt in a rollover crash near El Centro, during a move from California to Texas.

After being released from the hospital, the siblings were placed in foster care.

Aleecia, who was 6 years old at the time, remembers feeling uncertain.

“I was scared,” she said. “We were going to be separated, that was scary.”

In January 2019, Pam Willis, an attorney from Menifee, was scrolling through her Facebook feed when she saw a story about the siblings in need of adoption.

“It really pierced my heart,” she said. “Honestly, it just instantly made me feel like I need to be their mom.”

Willis tagged her husband Gary in the post. The couple had five adult children and fostered children for several years, but the idea of adoption had never crossed their mind.

“He had this thoughtful pause, he said we should adopt them,” Pam Willis said. “He shocked me, actually, because I was thinking I was the one that was going to have to convince him.”

The couple applied, and a few months later they met the children. Overnight visits followed, before the children were placed in the Willis home.

The couple’s empty nest was suddenly full again.

A learning curve, a growth period and a sort of logistical time to figure everything out,” Pam Willis said.

Photos show happy times spent together as a family.

At the same time, the kids were coping with emotional trauma, including their parent’s deaths and past homelessness.

Pam Willis: We’ve had some really great conversations with the kids. They’ve been able to talk to therapists as well and just process in their own time,”

Last spring, four days before the adoption was scheduled to be finalized, the pandemic shut down the courts.

In August, the day finally arrived. The seven siblings, ages 4 to 15, officially became part of the Willis family.

“I like how they give me lots of love,” Aleecia said.

“They are our ‘second chance seven,’ because it’s our second chance at parenting and their second chance at life,” Pam Willis said.

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