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Why One Couple Chose to Adopt Six Siblings at the Same Time

Joy Diaz for KUT
Michael, Jeremiah, Dominick, Jasmine, Aliana and Jermain Velez celebrate a birthday as a family at their home in Killeen.

This Thursday is Adoption Day, and about 6,500 children are waiting to be adopted in the Texas Foster care program. Last year, more than 1,000 didn’t find a home.

But a group of six Killeen siblings, the dream of staying together as a family — an unlikely prospect for many siblings in foster care — became a reality when Hipólito and Carmen Velez entered their lives.

It began in 2011 when Hipólito and Carmen Velez, both Puerto Rican natives, decided to spend their honeymoon in Texas. The state is also home to Hipólito’s mother, who had recently become a foster parent to the group of six children between the ages of two and eight-years-old. This was an opportunity for Carmen to meet her mother-in-law, but during their short visit to the Lone Star State, Hipólito’s mother had a minor accident where she fell and injured herself. 

“As fate would have it, she falls and breaks her arm,” Carmen says in Spanish. Hipólito and Carmen stayed to care for Hipólito’s mother and in that time Carmen said they bonded with the children.“We realized we had something wonderful here [in these] six kids.”

Hipólito and Carmen’s short honeymoon stay turned into making a new life in Texas. They rented a home and became the foster parents to those six children: Michael, Jeremiah, Dominick, Jasmine, Aliana and Jermain.

David Calvo, the family’s adoption specialist, says it’s a miracle such a large group of siblings are staying together – most sibling groups are split up.

“It’s just heart-breaking to know and for the children to have them split.” Calvo says. “What are you going to tell the children? 'Okay, your brother is leaving you,' or, 'Your sister has to go.' I’ve seen it far too often.”

Older children tend to be another group left behind in the foster system. Texas Department of Family and Protective Services spokesperson Julie Moody says even teenagers long to be adopted too.

“They still need that guidance and the care and the love and the support,” Moody said.

There are 30 families in the Austin area expected to complete adoptions through the foster care system Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
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