Couple nearing retirement adopts seven siblings whose parents died in a car crash

Pam Willis just knew she was meant to be their mom

Allison Hinrichs

More stories from Allison Hinrichs


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I want to return to the whole reason I started writing these opinion pieces in the first place: to remind our readers — and myself — that with as much bad that exists in our world, there is so much good.

In my world politics 101 class we are taught that the natural state of the world is anarchy. We exist in a vacuum of chaos where violence, prejudice and suffering run rampant with only outdated, racist, sexist laws put in place to try and temper that chaos — and this year I have had a very difficult time coming to terms with that fact.

But chaos and disorder aren’t always bad. In fact, sometimes it can even lead to good.

This past year has felt a bit like watching a train run off its rails and crash into a ditch and then that wreck escalating into a forest fire that then catches the attention of aliens who then invade our planet until finally the whole world explodes.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m exhausted.

I want to return to the whole reason I started writing these opinion pieces in the first place: to remind our readers — and myself — that with as much bad that exists in our world, there is so much good. I think we all could use a story with a happy ending, so allow me to reinstate your hope in humanity.

One brisk January day, Pam Willis, 50 years old, was enjoying her daily Facebook scroll when she stumbled upon a story about seven siblings: Adelino, 15 years old; Ruby, 13; Aleecia, 9; Aubriella, 7; Leo, 5 and Xander, 4.

The siblings experienced a great tragedy, losing their parents in a car accident, and they were searching for a new home. Almost as if it was divine intervention, Pam instantly felt a connection to these children.

“I can’t explain it,” Pam said, “I just knew I was supposed to be their mom.”

After tagging her husband, Gary Willis, 53 years old, in the post, she asked him what he thought. To her surprise he suggested that they should adopt the children. The couple already shared five adult children together and had been fostering children for years at this point, but they had never discussed adoption.

That night, they immediately called the number listed at the bottom of the children’s story and just two months later Pam and Gary were matched with the children. 

Pam learned during the screening process the kids had experienced a great deal of instability in their short lives. Their late parents battled addiction and the family experienced bouts of homelessness as well as days with no food.

“I think they didn’t quite trust that we were real,” Pam said in an interview with TODAY, “like maybe we were going to go away. I think it’s hard to trust when so much has been taken away from your life.”

One night when Aleecia came into her foster parents’ room in the middle of the night, Pam asked her if she had a bad dream and Aleecia responded, “No, I just wanted to make sure that you were still there.”

For the first six months, the kids struggled to adapt to their new home and even struggled to sleep through the whole night. But the kids had nothing to worry about because Pam and Gary weren’t going anywhere and last August the couple officially adopted the seven kids.

“They have given us a second chance at parenting, and we’ve given them a second mom and dad,” Pam wrote on an Instagram post. “They are our Second Chance seven.” 

You can follow Gary and Pam and the Second Chance seven on Instagram, and if you still can’t get enough of the family, check out this video. 

I bet you can’t watch it without shedding a tear. I know I couldn’t.

Hinrichs can be reached at [email protected].