Six Ohio foster siblings found their forever home — all together and all on the same day.
Cincinnati parents Christina and Christopher Sanders officially adopted Coby, 16, Christian, 14, Caleb, 13, Caylee, 12, Carson, 10, and Chloe, 9, at the Hamilton County Adoption Court on April 27.
The couple, already parents to five biological children, say they were “so happy” to give the brothers and sisters, who they’d been fostering since 2014, a permanent home.
“They just wanted a sense of normalcy to their lives and to feel like a part of a family,” Christopher, a stay-at-home dad, tells PEOPLE. “They wanted to stop all the moving around and the case workers and false hope.
“They wanted a family they could stay with forever.”
And despite stares they get on the street, the family says they rarely receive negative comments.
“People on social media will say ‘With so many black children in need of adoption, why not adopt black children?’ ” says Christopher. “But it has never been an issue for me and my wife.
“We just don’t respond, because we love our children, and race isn’t an issue for us, God says we are all the same.”
Christopher and Christina always wanted to foster and adopt children, but waited until their oldest son, Christopher, 19, was in college, so there would be ample space in their 6-bedroom Forest Park home.
The couple has four other biological children — Cameron, 14, Caden, 12, Chad, 10 and Caitlyn, 9.
“It’s always been in her heart [to adopt],” says Christopher. “And when we heard about these siblings, we made a plan from the beginning to keep them together.”
Adds Christina: “We were going to do whatever it took to make sure they could stay together.”
As soon as the siblings moved in with the foster family, they felt “at home.”
“Everyone in our family has the initials CMS, and the kids, without us knowing, asked their case worker if they could change their names to match our initials!” says Christopher. “She said ‘Yes you can.’ ”
“It is unheard of, but yes my babies did it,” says Christina. “They wanted a new start and [the caseworker] said they could do it.
“It is very amazing.”
The couple says parenting 11 children doesn’t come without challenges — but they practice “patience and love” to keep their kids happy.
“Most of the time people pull us aside and tell us how well mannered the group is or you’re doing an excellent job!” says Christina with a laugh.
And although the kids have “normal brother and sister fights” they generally get along great.
The boys play sports together and Caitlyn and Chloe, both 9, have taken to wearing matching clothes at all times and crafting headbands.
“They’re so close, the kids, they do everything together,” says Christina.
She’s also made it a point to spend “mommy and me time” with each of her kids.
“I make sure to spend time with each of them,” she says. “Sometimes we go to a nursing home and pass out treats or we’ll go shopping. It’s important to take an interest in each child so they know they are all loved equally.”
The 11 siblings, who all attend public school, call each other “brother and sister” and will “stick up for each other no matter what.”
“The love each other,” says Christina, who works as a nursing assistant. “We are just so happy now.”