The email could have been a scam. That’s what Lauren and Scott Sterling thought when they read an email in their inbox, claiming to be from five Peruvian orphans who “needed a mommy and daddy.”
Turns out, the email wasn’t a scam. The kids weren’t asking for money, just a home. And the Sterlings, from Missouri, wanted to make that dream possible.
The couple checked up on the email, and discovered that it had indeed been sent out by five siblings whose parents had died of tuberculosis. And although the couple aren’t rich and already have two kids of their own, they couldn’t get the email out of their minds.
“Somebody’s got to do it, and why can’t it be us?” Lauren, 30, finally asked her husband, after being unable to forget the heart-wrenching email.
The children’s parents died seven years ago, and they struggled to stay together, maintaining that they wouldn’t be adopted individually, but had to remain close. Now, the kids needed parents. They learned of an adoption ministry at the Sterlings’ church from a church-goer who’d met them on a trip to South America.
After sending an email to the church, the Sterlings decided to adopt the kids, and bring them to Blue Springs, MO.
After the decision was made, however, the Sterlings still had to figure out how to legally adopt all five children and bring them to the United States. The kids, whose ages range from 9 to 17, spent time getting to know the Sterlings. Far before the adoptions were legal and the children came to their new home, the family bonded as one. According to Fox News, “That bond was crucial as the family began navigating the long, expensive and at times emotionally draining process of international adoption.”
“We got told ‘no’ a lot of times, and by then we were already crazy about these kids, so it was a rough part of the story,” Lauren Sterling recalled. “And you had to keep trusting that we were fighting for something that you knew was yours to fight for.”
But less than a year later, the three brothers and two sisters from Peru have their new mommy and daddy, plus two more siblings.
“The sound of life is different – it’s a lot more loud and crazy, and half of it’s in Spanish, half of it’s in English, and half of it’s in Spanglish. But it’s really good. There’s a strange peace amidst the chaos,” Lauren says with a laugh.
Scott Sterling, 43, runs a lawn care business, while Lauren, 30, has her hands full at home. She admits money is tight, but it’s worth it.
“So we eat spaghetti a lot if we have to,” she said. “So I don’t buy expensive jeans. Those are dumb reasons to not take these kids in.”
Their church, where Scott is the associate pastor, helped the family by sprucing up the family’s home to make it ready for their “Peruvian branch,” and raising enough money to fly all the kids home for Christmas.
“People painted beds, people framed pictures — I mean, people made the girls’ room look like they had lived here for years. It was awesome to come home to that,” Lauren told Fox News.
The community rallied around the Sterlings in other ways, too, by stocking their pantry and bringing fresh groceries. Families brought freezer meals and other items, like containers for the kids’ school lunches.
The five orphans-no-longer came home not only to a new family, but to their first experience of snow.
“These kids are fabulous. They have great attitudes,” says the proud mother of seven. “Nobody fought me on going back to school the second day. Everybody was up and ready, showers going on their own. So their attitudes are making the transition a bazillion times easier.”
While the kids are adjusting well, they reportedly had some concerns now that the family is moving to a new house to accommodate everyone.
“Their biggest thing is, do we get to take the carpet? It’s amazing the things they’ve been drawn to that are different for them – it’s carpet and TVs. Do we get to take the TVs and the carpet?” Lauren says with a laugh.
“It’s about people seeing that it’s possible — that, one, adopting older kids isn’t as scary as everybody thinks it is, and two, that doing what God asks even when it seems crazy is worth it.”