Five Kansas siblings looking for an adoptive family have set off a burst of interest never before seen at the website promoting the childrens’ desire to stay together.
“This is a viral response ... and it’s pretty insane,” said Corey Lada of the Kansas Children’s Service League, which contracts with the state to run AdoptKSKids.org. “In 13-plus years of working here I’ve seen nothing like this. Nothing.”
A weekend “Family wanted” appeal in The Kansas City Star triggered a nationwide response that filled the voice mailbox of the children’s service league with hundreds of inquiries — as many as the system could hold — and clogged the email inbox with 1,500 responses.
Since the story posted on The Star’s website late Saturday, online readers have clicked on it more than 4 million times.
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The article featured two sisters and three brothers, ages 2 to 11, identified by first names only. The oldest, Bradley, was described as a “the music lover.” Middle child Layla is “already planning to save sick or injured animals when she grows up,” and the youngest, Olive, “loves to be cuddled” whenever she “slows down long enough.”
The story indicated the siblings hope to be adopted together. Lada said placement workers are striving to identify a family who will keep them in Kansas. “Currently they’re in separate homes” in foster care, Lada said.
He and the nonprofit handling the placement, St. Francis Community Services in south-central Kansas, declined to provide more information on the children’s situation.
The public response so overwhelmed the children’s service league, the siblings on Monday were removed from AdoptKSKids.org so a staff of five at the Topeka offices could begin addressing inquiries already made.
Lada said many of the people expressing interest are bound to be upset that their calls and email aren’t being returned while staffers try to catch up.
“It’s a great crisis to have,” Lada said.
Out-of-state inquirers and others who may not qualify to adopt the siblings together are being redirected to a national website, AdoptUSKids.org, and to explore adoption opportunities in their home states.
From Knox County, Ill., Brittany and Stephen Fleming, parents of three children of their own, tried logging onto the Kansas adoption site but found it unresponsive. “It kept trying and trying and trying” to process their registration information, Brittany Fleming said. “It just wouldn’t respond.”
Nibal Henderson of Overland Park found links to the siblings’ story on her Facebook wall from friends in Texas and Michigan. “It was interesting seeing all this roll out all day Sunday,” Henderson said. “But part of this didn’t set well with me.”
She noted the five featured siblings were all white, “like out of a Lands’ End ad.” Henderson said harder-to-adopt children of other races should be so lucky to stir such public interest.
Kansas has about 1,200 children in state custody and seeking adoption.
In November 2014, reaction hit viral levels when The Star featured six siblings looking for an adoptive family, five of them white and an oldest brother who was biracial. Lada said those kids recently were placed together.
“The response this time is at least two or three times stronger,” he said. “These kids need no more publicity.”