Sibling Adoption

I’m fascinated by the story of the Truax family. The couple comes from my hometown, St. George, Utah, which is how I heard about them. They are currently the parents of four, and are in the process of adopting 3 orphaned siblings from the Ukraine, ages 5, 10, and 16!

Apparently, orphans leave the orphanages in the Ukraine around age 16 and are left to their own devices. Without a support system, a huge number end up on the streets. 70% of the boys end up in a life of crime. 60% of the girls end up in prostitution. So the Truax family is anxious to bring these children to their new home as soon as possible.

The idea of adopting older children is so heart-warming to me. Obviously, a 16 year old is not in that stage where they literally need to be fed and diapered just to survive. But she’s still a child, and in great need of direction and a homebase.

Ben Blair and I both have a list of parents, siblings, and cousins that goes for miles. And if anything happened to us, I’m not at all worried our children would end up in government care. But the thought of them being raised separately absolutely breaks my heart! I think that’s why I like this story so much. How amazing that these 3 siblings are finding a new home where they can be together.

Have you ever considered adoption of older children? Or maybe becoming a foster parent? Fun fact: My oldest brother, Jake (#3 above), was adopted into our family when he was 6, just after my parents had their first baby. I think he was was 11 when I was born (I’m #7 in the line-up).

P.S. — Adopting a child is expensive. Adopting 3 is astronomical — as in $68,000. If you feel inclined, you can donate to the Truax adoption fund here. [ Update: I need to clarify that adoption can be FREE! In the US, when adopting from the foster system, most adoption is free and includes support services. ]

52 thoughts on “Sibling Adoption”

    1. exactly what I was going to say- I’ve always loved that picture (actually made similar shirts for my kids, nieces and nephews last christmas) but never made the connection that it was actually YOUR family! how adorable!

  1. My husband and I want to adopt two children, and we would be happy to adopt a sibling pair. My husband’s father and uncles were adopted, and his uncles are twins. They were all from the US however.
    One problem I worry about with our situation is that we want to adopt internationally, and a lot of countries have strict age restrictions on the parents, and with 12 years between my husband and myself, we are automatically excluded from some countries and for some age groups. Especially when you combine those rules with the rules for length of marriage, existing biological children, etc.
    I hope that in 5 or so years we will be able to find our children somewhere for us to adopt.

    1. Jessica, please consider fostering here in the US. In one short year my husband and I had a dozen children come thru our home. Number 10 was the “forever” child and he has been an amazing blessing! Right now in our state the need for foster parents is intense. Our ages did not matter in the least as far as adopting. Check into it, it’s a blessing you’ll never regret! So many children just need our love.
      God Bless you and your journey.

    2. Check with agencies. Many countries are willing to consider the age of just one child, and some regions in countries have different requirements (i.e. one Russian region might say yes while others say no).

  2. I was in foster care for a year when I was 14. My mom was able to get her life back on track and with lots of counseling and the support of social workers I was able to move back home. I am forever thankful for my foster parents though; for that year and for how they stayed involved (I would visit on school breaks & they attended the big events of my life) afterwards. They didn’t officially adopt me (they did adopt a few other teenage girls) but they did offer their contiual support and love. It made a huge difference in my life & I am positive that without it my road to adulthood would of been a lot more bumpy. I hope to pay it forward someday. When our babies are little older my husband and I want to become foster parents (specifically for older children) and we are open to adoption. I know it will be messy and hard but I also know a teenager needs a family as much as baby does.

  3. I always remember a story about a teenage girl being adopted who went on to win miss teen america. I can clearly remember her mom being interviewed about her decision to adopt an older child and she said… older kids need family too.

    I love that. I agree with you Gabrielle, even though a teen doesn’t need their diapers changed they still need love. So sweet, thanks for sharing your story!

  4. I love that picture! My husband and I are foster parents. We started out with younger kids and adopted our first daughter (now 14 months old) but I definitely have a place in my heart for older kids. It totally breaks my heart that every birthday a child passes makes them less and less “adoptable” in most people’s minds. I cannot imagine being 17 or 18 (or even 28!) and not having parents.

  5. Wow. The siblings are indeed lucky to go to one family who want them all. With statistics of how the 16 year olds end up after govt care I wonder why they haven’t beefed up their services? Perhaps the answer is still economic conditions and political will. My heart goes to the orphanages of Ukraine and the world over.

  6. Hoorah for this post! We’re waiting for a referral of siblings up to age 6 from Ethiopia and we are so thrilled for the Truax family. :) Love really stretches farther than we can imagine.

  7. There is a family here in Atlanta, GA who had four bio kids and then adopted 5 kids from around the world. None of the adopted kids were babies, and some were pre-teens. The mom, Melissa Faye Greene, who happens to be an amazing journalist and nonfiction writer, wrote a book called “No Biking in the House Without a Helmet.”
    (her website is What has impressed me greatly with this family is that the parents have been able to give each kid what she or he needs – the bio kids followed the trajectory you would expect from children raised by educated, affluent parents – perhaps private education, college, graduate school, good job. The flexibility and dedication these parents have shown in raising kids from different cultures and backgrounds, with different learning styles, issues, and strengths (soccer!) is humbling.

  8. My friend who is 30 years old grew up in a family of 14 brothers and sisters. Three of them were biologically born to the parents (my friend included) and the other 11 were adopted from around the world. 5 of them were siblings from Haiti. Very interesting way to grow up, but they definitely have a HUGE number of obstacles and relationship issues throughout the family.

    One story that struck me as funny is how one time growing up they tried to get into an attraction on vacation as a family but were rejected because no one believed they could all be part of one family.

  9. Our good friends tried to have their own baby for 5 years. It wasn’t going to happen for them. Then they tried to adopt from South America. It feel through. Then they tried to adopt from Russia, two little girls. It fell through. Then they ended up finally adopting three brothers, aged 5, 7, and 9 right here in America (of which they were trying to do all along, it just is SO hard to adopt in America!). I give them all the props in the world for their struggles, and finally, their happiness at becoming parents.

  10. We have done foster care for almost 25 years. Many, many children need forever homes in our country. We have two grown daughters in their 30 and two years ago we adopted a 16 year old girl. She is the same age as my oldest grandson and they go to school together. We hope to continue with foster care for many years to come. It’s not always easy but the rewards of nurturing a child are well worth the hurdles.
    Please feel free to email me if anyone has questions or I can help in any way…

  11. Love the picture of your family. I have learned through personal experience that you can love a child no matter how or when they come into your life. My husband and I adopted siblings ages 8, 11, and 15 out of foster care here in the US. Sadly my sweetheart suddenly passed away a short 9 months later, but I was able to continue to finalization. The past 10 years has been an amazing ride. It is true that all they needed was love, but I didn’t always know what loving them might mean. Just with children born to you, these spirits come with their own traits, personalities, and challenges. Unique to older child adoption comes a history that isn’t shared, but needs to be included, addressed, and many times healed. Love IS enough… but love is also action, not just emotion. I would not have wanted to miss out on the lessons and blessings these children have brought into my life!!!! As an aside, for those who are concerned about finances, adopting through the foster care system is not the financial burden that adopting infants or from overseas can be.

  12. What an inspiring story! I hope they get those kids in a hurry! In the Jewish tradition we often donate $18 (or multiples of $18) because 18 = the word “Chai” or “life” in Hebrew. I just donated $54 hoping to help make a difference in those 3 precious lives.

  13. The Truax family lived up from us while they lived in St. George (they now live in northern Utah). They were such a wonderful family, and I was touched to find out through a sudden burst of Facebook posts from them about their endeavor.

    Shelly and James are kind, funny, talented and passionate people who have taught their children to be the same way. I am so glad you shared their story! I hope people donate and help keep their family (all nine of them!) together.

  14. Such a great story. I think it’s also important to note that foster youth in the United States also get pushed out of the system at age 18, if they haven’t emancipated themselves already, and they, too, are left to their own devices, which often leads to homelessness. Over 50 percent of the homeless population in most states are former foster youth.

    But I digress, this is a great story of a kind family – and I wish them the best.

  15. I have a friend who recently did this – adopted two siblings from Ukraine. It was a HUGE endeavor both financially and emotionally for his family. (They already had 6 kids of their own). It’s been pretty emotional to read about the whole process. They finally have both siblings with them and are now working on the “acclimating” part of the process. Their story is here:

  16. Thank you so much for posting about this!! I have two adopted children. You are right . . . siblings (in every country) are the hardest to place. I hope more people will be inspired to consider it, or to give financially to families who do.

  17. I love the story of the Truax family! I hope to adopt an older child when my children are older and I’m in my 30s. We accepted referrals for a 5 year old and 3 year old but they county also chose another family mistakenly. I would adopt my friend’s foster kids who are 8 and 4. But I am afraid to bring in an older child without knowing everything about them (since my kids are still very young).

    There is one thing I would like to say about your post. When you said the Truax had four children “of their own” I twinged. All seven of their kids are “their own” not just their biological kids. When those words are said if makes it seem like you think the adopted child is not as important or a “real” member of the family like the biological child(rem).

  18. My aunt and uncle were unable to have children of their own. Initially when they decided on adoption as an alternative, they thought they would only adopt one young child. When it came down to it, the young child they fell in love with had two older sisters in separate orphanages. They decided they would adopt all three girls, as the oldest who was “in charge” refused to allow them to be taken to different homes. They are now all living on their own here in the US as adults. Such a success!

  19. Big fan, since I’ve just adopted siblings :-) They are younger though – 4. But we are first time parents. I’m so impressed with people who adopt older children — and siblings at that. Almost always, though, they are people who’ve already parented. Which helps them go in with a little more confidence and experience.

    Thanks for changing the phrase “children of their own.” It really makes adoptive parents wince!

  20. My brother and his wife adopted a 14 year old girl. They met her while they were working for Boys Town in Nevada, and just know she had to be part of the family (they have four other children). We love her! Though it is funny to think that my brother was just 13 when she was born!

  21. Thank you so much for taking the time to share our family story with your viewers. We are so grateful that you took the time to read our story, write about and encourage others to learn more about the adventure we are currently pursuing. Thank you also to your blog subscribers for the kind and encouraging comments. It’s meant a lot to read such positive messages! Again, thank you so very much! Your help and involvement is making a huge difference!

  22. Thanks for this post and for getting the word out about adoption.
    I have done respite (weekend/night) care over the past few years through the foster care system with my husband. We intend to continue doing this and foster, and potentially adopt.
    There are so many kids in the world, so many kids in the US, so many kids right here in our backyard who need love!
    Whether they are 1 day old or 17 years old, they are all precious, deserve a home with loving caregivers, and need lots of love. Of course there is a lot that goes into each individual kid, knowing their situation, knowing their needs, and growing with them, but it is beautiful and at the end of the day…if “we” don’t step up to take care of these blessed children, who will?

  23. Hi Gabrielle, I’m Anne, from Life on the Funny Farm, and I just found your blog. Looks great and I can’t wait to “go exploring”! I am also a mother of six, three by birth and three by adoption. My adopted kids came home to us (from Kazakhstan) at the ages of nearly 6, 10 1/2, and nearly 14, so I know what you mean about the beauty of adopting older kids. The oldest two are biological brother and sister. Must have been God’s plan, b/c I was trying to adopt our son (whom I had met five years earlier during our first adoption), but if I wanted to adopt him I had to adopt his sister, as well. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea, b/c that would bring us to 6 kids, and I didn’t know if I’d be able to handle that. But now she’s been home with us for nearly four years, and what a blessing! You can read what I wrote about that in my post “The Child Not Chosen” if you’d like, at

    Have a great day!

  24. I love this story!! My mother was adopted when she was 8 years old by my Grandma Lucy (who was then in her 20s and not yet married). My mother was an abused, neglected and abandoned child and I can only imagine how different her life would have been had she not been adopted. Instead, she remembers a childhood of raising horses, growing up on a farm, climbing trees and being loved. Grandma Lucy later married Grandpa Gene and they adopted my uncle Brett as an infant when my mom was a teenager.

    When I met my husband I told him I would like to have one biological child and one adopted child. Our son was about 4 years old when we started the private domestic infant adoption process. He was truly excited about having a sibling – we have explained that a baby will “pick us” and he asks nearly every day when that will happen. He talks often about how much he will love the baby, and how he will teach the baby to ride a bike, to make paper airplances and teach the baby to be kind and gentle. He’s going to be a great big brother!

    Since nothing happened for a year, we started to become licensed foster parents a few months ago with the hope to adopt a toddler. However, about a week later we were picked by a biological mom to adopt her baby girl – who is due in about 6 weeks. She is a drug addict, who is a child of drug addicts. She was abused and neglected as a child and has had 2 children previously removed from her care. This time, she has chosen to pick a family rather than having the child go to the foster care system.

    While we know there will be certain medical issues for the baby after the birth because of addiction issues, and possible developmental delays, we are grateful that she has picked our family. Regardless of her personal choices, the birthmom has made the ultimate parental choice for her child – to give the baby a loving, happy home that she did not have. She said she wanted to pick a happy family, and was especially moved by the fact that our son so wants a sibling that he can love and take care of. We feel truly blessed and couldn’t be more thrilled!!

  25. What a wonderful spotlight on adoption! We have been on our adoption journey for 2 years now. We had a placement fall through in August. We are currently working to get our license to foster as well. We’ll see where this leads! We are nervous and eager all at the same time!
    ps- we have 2 bio kids already, age 6 and 8.

  26. My husband and I adopted 4 biological siblings from Ukraine 4 years ago, at ages 5, 6, 7, and 8. I have no idea where the price you have came from, but we paid less than half of that and adopted 4 at once. And with the current Adoption Tax Refund we got all the money back (eventually). Hopefully they will find a way to cut their costs down, I didn’t have time to click the linka dn read the story so there may be circumstances very different from ours.

    Also, with few exceptions, biological siblings may not be seperated, so it is a huge blessing they are adopting these children who may otherwise remain in the system until they age out. Many people run in fear of adopting “older” kids. But they can be great blessing as well. Nothing more exciting than experiencing “firsts” with older kids. When ours walked into our home it was a huge gasp and “Oh, Mama!” It was like when Annie arrives at Daddy Warbuck’s place. That first Christmas was stright out of a storybook tale. First Halloween was too fun. Trying to explain to kids who had never heard of trick-or-treat before and spoke mostly Russian that they got to pick a costume for me to make for them, run around the neighborhood in the evening hours, and people would give them candy was priceless! :)

    Wishing many blessings for this family!

  27. #10 in the picture above

    Great post Gabby. Megan and I have been talking about adopting non infants but the sibling issue had never crossed my mind. Also, the comments rock. You have the best community of readers.

  28. I Have done it.
    We would do it again.
    7 kids and counting… Skies the limit,lol…ok maybe not.

    We knew we wanted to keep siblings together.. Our motto was and is:
    We want to fill a need not to be a need.

    Great topic.

  29. There’s a family in our neighborhood that has adopted several children. I think it’s so incredible. They have six of their own children (some of them grown) and it seems that every time I run into them, they have a new adopted child. Mostly from China and Taiwan, but I believe at last count they had adopted 10 (maybe more!) in addition to their 6.

  30. Our two adopted children are brother and sister. I am convinced they were always meant to be ours…they just got delivered to the wrong address!
    They are the youngest of 7 children and whilst we don’t have any contact with the eldest siblings, we are very lucky in that there two next oldest sisters live very close to us with their adopted mum and dad. We see them on a regular basis…in fact they all attend the same dance class (including our son).
    All children are a blessing…having an extended adoptive family is especially so.

  31. @ Evie – That is wonderful! Our soon to be adopted girl has 5 other biological siblings. 2 were adopted through foster care, so we don’t know where they are. 3 were adopted through closed adoptions, so same story . . . we don’t know where they are. However, her next oldest sibling (a boy – 20 months old) is in Pennsylvania. They used the same adoption attorney as us and we are all hoping to keep in close contact so they know each other growing up!

  32. I’m always so happy to see blog posts advocating the adoption of older children! We’ll be traveling to bring home our 14 year old daughter from Thailand in just a few months.

    Kids don’t stop needing parents when they hit school age years and beyond. And children of all ages with special needs are often left in the lurch when it comes to adoption, too. There’s a huge waiting list for people who want to adopt “healthy” infants, but many children who are older, have special needs, are part of a sibling group (or some combination of all these) are left waiting for years.

    Adopting through foster care is extremely inexpensive and there are many wonderful young people who very much want to be part of a family. There are also thousands of children across the world who will not experience the best-case scenario of having loving parents in their birth countries and for whom international adoption is an appropriate choice.

    I’d strongly encourage any family considering adding to their family through adoption– whether it be domestic or international– to consider these children, as they are wonderful, vibrant kids who deserve loving families.

  33. It’s so sad that adoption is so prohibitively expensive. My husband and I have two wonderful biological children, but after two high risk pregnancies, I can’t have any more kids. We are loving, educated, positive, creative people who can offer a home to an adopted child, but we can’t pay the tens of thousands of dollars required to adopt, either domestically or internationally. It’s a shame that there isn’t a better system of pairing adoptive parents and children.

  34. I subscribe and really enjoy your blog. I would love it if you would post to clarify on the post above to share that adoption can be FREE! In the US when adopting from the foster system most often adoption is free and includes support services that vary depending on the state. There are so many children waiting here and it is so important for people to realize this option. Thanks!

  35. Hello there, I am a birth Mother of 4 and my husband and I adopted a sibling group of 4, so I am a Mother of 8. Ages ranging from 19-7, I have 3 16 year olds! It has been a journey with highs and lows. My Mother taught me at a very young age that love is multiplied not divided. I stumbled on this site from pinterest and I love your posts. I thank you. Adoption is wonderful!

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