On Thursday, five Lufkin children’s lives were permanently changed through Buckner International adoptions as three girls and two boys were adopted into three different families after being in the foster care system since January of 2017.

After years of uncertainty, neglect and abuse, these children were given a second chance at family. While the goal for adoption of siblings is to keep them together, that isn’t always the reality. In this case, even though all five siblings weren’t adopted into the same home, they are still all going to be family.

“The families all decided that these guys are going to stay siblings, so they decided to create an extended family,” Wendy Robuck, Foster Care and Adoption supervisor for Buckner International, said. “So they do everything together: They do birthday parties, holidays, they make sure the kids see each other. They still see themselves as siblings, and they see the other moms and dads as aunts and uncles.”

Robuck went on to say, “When you have families like this, it’s not even the next best thing. It is the best thing.”

Buckner International has been around since 1879, beginning as a children’s home. They have locations throughout Texas and the world and their mission is to transform the lives of vulnerable children, enrich the lives of senior adults and build strong families through Christ-centered values.

The families who adopted the children described Buckner International and the help and support they give as “phenomenal.” They talked about how the foster and adoption services through Buckner International have a huge support system, a hotline for any trouble that may arise and organized events to keep up morale.

“They’ll even show up with diapers and clothes,” Carene Hammond said. “If you need something, they’ll make sure to help you find it.”

Susan and Doug McBride adopted the two boys, Carene and Jon Hammond adopted two of the girls, and Katie and Derek Garrison adopted the oldest girl. These families all have their own connections to each other outside of the adoption process, as well. Derek and Carene are brother and sister, while Susan and Doug are family friends of Carene and Jon through jobs at the Lufkin Fire Department.

Each of the five children have been fostering with their now-adoptive parents for at least a year before the adoption was made official. All three families have at least one biological child of their own, and said the transition to extra siblings is going well.

“They’ve been in our house for so long, they’re his sisters already,” Carene Hammond said when asked about how her son was adjusting to the adoption.

The McBrides, Hammonds and Garrisons all agreed that it’s hard to have one child without falling in love with all five. Needless to say, each person involved in this adoption gained a new, extended family just in time for the holiday season.

Dena Stokes’ email address is dena.stokes@lufkindailynews.com.

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