A family in Toms River, New Jersey, has opened their house to six orphaned siblings to keep them from being separated.
When Rebecca and Robert Kolas decided to become foster parents to two-year-old Ella Fuller in 2013, they later learned she had a one-year-old brother, William, and also brought him home to live with them, according to the Asbury Park Press.
The couple officially adopted the two children in 2019 and Ella says, “I’m happy they took me in and adopted me because it’s a warm home and I love it here.”
Later in 2019, Rebecca found out that Ella’s older siblings lost their father suddenly, so the couple fostered three of them and a fourth came into their home in September.
“I’m very happy and thankful,” said 15-year-old Emma Fuller. “They didn’t have to do any of this, but they chose to. They kept us all together and that’s a really good thing.”
The rest of the siblings are 18-year-old Andrew, 16-year-old Jamison, and 11-year-old Noah.
Rebecca, who is managing attorney of the Community Health Law Project which advocates for those with disabilities, and Robert, who works for the Tom River Public Works Department, have asked New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency for help in making more space for the kids.
“My home is mortgaged as much as possible to pay for it,” Rebecca explained.
Despite the challenges, the Kolas’ friends praised them for caring for the siblings and giving them a place to live.
“When she adopted the first two (Ella and William), they were younger; these are teenagers with full-blown personalities,” said Hilary Nizamoff. “To extend themselves like this to keep that family unit together, it’s a great story.”
However, Rebecca said she and her husband are just “regular people trying to make a difference.”
“I would love to inspire people to become foster parents because we really need more foster parents,” she noted.
According to AdoptUsKids.org, there are many children in New Jersey waiting to find their forever families.