The Short of It
A Florida couple intent on adopting goes from no children, to six in just one year!
Kenley and Calyn Stringer always knew they wanted to adopt, and they even visited Kenya in search for kids who needed a home. But they were encountering obstacles along the way. As Kenley explained to KSDK TV: "We found we had to be very proactive, and even when we were, we found that either the information was outdated or people just weren't responsive."
But as fate would have it, Calyn found out she was expecting a baby around the same time the couple learned four children were in need of adoption. The kids—Eric, 7; Dale, 5; Brittan, 3; and Maya, 2—shared the same mom but different dads. There was also a fifth sibling, Kiki, who was still an infant and not yet ready to be adopted.
Amazingly, despite the fact that they were expecting a baby of their own, the Stringers felt determined to give the siblings a home, so they could be together following a negative experience with a foster family. Another incredible thing about this couple is that they were granted the adoption of the children before they met them!
Kenley recalls meeting his kids at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant: "I said, 'Our names are Kenley and Calyn, but do you know why we're here?' [Eric] said 'no,' and we said, 'We're going to invite you to come live with us. How do you feel about that?' and he said, 'good.' I said, 'Then you can call us mom and dad,' and he said, 'Okay."
That was it; the kids went to live with the Stringers. And when their biological son, Benjamin, was only a month old, they were granted the adoption of their children's fifth sibling, Kiki, whom they say is "the last piece of the puzzle."
Of course, with an "instafamily" comes challenges. Calyn says, "We had this mad rush of taking them to doctors, collecting paperwork to get them all settled in and enrolled in school." And ultimately the parents had to move into a bigger home to accommodate their brood! "We went from a quiet house with just the two of us to all this crazy," Kenley jokes.
Having an interracial family has also presented hurdles. Calyn says a child questioned whether she could be Dale's mom because she's white and he is black. But Dale seemed to handle the episode in stride, simply saying "That's the way God made us."
The parents say the kids are much more stable after living with them. And ultimately, Calyn says, "We try to tell people, 'Yeah, it can be difficult, but it's worth it.' It's so needed, and when we think about our kids and where they could've ended up, it can be scary."