Inside the Emotional 'Sister Wives' Adoption: 'It Was a Validation of Our Family'

Kody Brown officially adopted his fourth wife Robyn s three children from her previous marriage on June 17

ly strohm The Brown Family" David Dayton Brown, Aurora Alice Brown, Kody Brown, Breanna Rose B
Photo: Discovery

It wasn’t an easy process for Sister Wives star Kody Brown to adopt his fourth wife Robyn‘s three children from a previous marriage.

He had to divorce his first wife Meri – who is one of four women who live a polygamist lifestyle with Brown on TLC’s hit reality series – then legally marry fourth wife Robyn before the adoption could even become a possibility.

“We had to do the restructuring so that we would do the adoption,” Meri says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “That was something that I decided to do just for the purpose of the kids. And the adoption, it was something that I knew that they wanted to have their legal name Brown. They really wanted to be adopted.”

Though Meri had been married to Kody for more than 20 years, the divorce was her idea – one that she had been quietly considering since Robyn and her children first became a part of the family.

“It was a really sweet offer and, as far as polygamous relationships go, I don’t know of any other family that has done this,” says Kody’s third wife Christine. “Where another wife has given up a legal marriage so he can marry another wife and that way they can adopt the kids. This isn’t something that happens so it was really sweet and generous.”

While it took a while to get everything in order, it was all worth the wait when the adoption became official on June 17.

“Usually when a plural family goes into a court room they are tearing apart a family so we were really nervous going in,” says Robyn. “But here we were the whole family and we were uniting our family. It was really cool for us. Very much a validation of our family.”

For more on the

Sister Wives adoption, pick up the latest copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Sister Wives airs Sundays (9 p.m. ET) on TLC.

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