N.J. Parents with 6 Biological Children Adopt 7 Orphaned Siblings from Ukraine: 'A Gift'

"The mood of the house is often chaotic, but full of love and laughter," said mom Michelle Torppey

family who adopted 7 siblings from Ukrain
The Torppey family . Photo: gofundme

A New Jersey family nearly doubled in size recently after the parents of six children decided to adopt seven orphaned siblings from Ukraine.

Wade and Michelle Torppey already had their hands full when they learned about the siblings, who were living in an orphanage in Mokrats after both of their parents died, according to the Morristown Daily Record.

But that didn't stop the couple from bringing Olena, 17, Leeza, 14, Slavik, 12, Alina, 11, Anhelina, 9, Senya, 8, and Jenya, 6, into their hearts — and make Wantage, Sussex County their home.

After years of visits and a delay that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the siblings were officially adopted into the Torppey family in July, the outlet reported.

"If there's one thing we think we can do well, and other people have told us we do well, that would be being parents," Wade told the Record. "I would like to think that's a gift we have that God gave us, and he's asking us to do it a little longer than we planned."

Added Michelle: "Most people, when we say we adopted seven, they already knew we had six, so they assume we adopted one more. When they hear seven plus six, they go, 'What?' We get a lot of that... The mood of the house is often chaotic, but full of love and laughter."

The Torppey family's journey to adoption began a few years ago after Wade, an ironworker by trade, went on a short volunteer mission in Haiti, according to the Record.

While he was there, Wade bonded with several children who were living in difficult conditions and ultimately became inspired to help others in similar situations.

Around that same time, the Torppeys watched as several members of their longtime congregation, the Lafayette Federated Church, adopted kids through a program by the nonprofit organization Open Hearts and Homes For Children, the outlet reported.

The program allows American families to host orphans from Ukraine and Latvia for Christmas and over the summer. Some people, like their pastor Aaron Robb, became so moved by the experience that they decided to adopt those children they hosted, according to the Record.

"I think [Wade] was looking for a way for the whole family to take in and support and care for some less-fortunate kids," Robb told the outlet. "If anybody can handle it, the Torppeys can."

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And they did. In 2017, the Torppeys hosted the group of siblings for Christmas for the very first time. The two youngest boys were too young to travel, so only five siblings came that year, according to the Record.

"Their father died in 2016 and their mother died in 2018," Michelle explained to the outlet. "There were 10 siblings in all. Two had already aged out of the system and one stayed with relatives."

"Right off the bat, I knew this would be something more than just Christmas," said Wade.

After a month, the families parted ways in an emotional goodbye at Dulles Airport near Washington, D.C. The next summer, the siblings returned for a longer, nine-week visit and later made plans to reunite at Christmas 2018, solidifying the parents' desire to take them in as their own. It wasn't until this past July, however, that the adoption was finalized.

"We just have a lot of fun together," Michelle told the Record.

"We certainly have no regrets," Wade added. "It's tough at times and a bit of an adjustment. But when you know their hearts ... For us, it's being obedient to God and what he's put in front of us."

Wade and Michelle have received financial help from their church community, including gift cards for groceries and monetary donations to help pay for their education at Sussex Christian School and Veritas Christian Academy, the outlet reported.

A GoFundMe page was also set up by the eldest Torppey sibling, Taylor Gibson, who is married and now lives in Wisconsin, to help cover private school tuition at Sussex Christian, per the Record.

"Our church family has been absolutely amazing," Michelle told the Record. "We've been overwhelmed. It's a very humbling experience. We like to be the people who are donating. We're not used to being on the receiving end."

Today, the Ukranian siblings are focused on adjusting to their new lives in the U.S., which includes learning English and playing soccer.

"If anyone asks what the primary language in the house is now, I say charades," Michelle joked to the Record. "When all else fails, there's Google Translate on the phone."

As they continue to embrace their new lives and new family, Robb is praising the Torppeys for going above and beyond to change the lives of those seven children.

"They are an absolutely incredible family," he told the Record, "and their story is just inspiring beyond anything I've heard in years."

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