Family With 19 Kids Raises Awareness About Teen Adoption

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STORY CITY, Iowa –When many people think of adoption, they typically think of babies, but one family wants you to know the benefits of adding teens to your home.

It's hard to get in a word around the Buckels’ house. "My family's huge. I like them a lot," said High School Sophomore Talyn Phillips.

Eight people live in the rural Story City home, which has six bedrooms, four bathrooms and two kitchens, and that isn’t even half the family. "Talking to friends, they're like, you have enough for a football or basketball team," said High School Senior Christian Buckels.

Mom Ruth Buckels said, "I have 19 children total." Fifteen of Ruth and Bill Buckels’ kids were adopted as teenagers.

Christian said, "Some people are like, oh, they're teenagers, they're the hardest. But, really I would say, we're one of the easiest groups. You don't have to clean up after us."

Ruth added, "They're energetic. They keep me young, or age me, depending on the moment."

"We don't always get along. There are always going to be ups and downs like any family," said Dalani Phillips.

Ruth started adding to her family in 2008 when she adopted her then 21 year old foster-daughter. In 2010 she married Bill, after meeting him at a group for foster and adoptive parents. "We blended our families in 2010. Bill was an adoptive parent, and I had done foster care," she said.

Last fall, the Buckels got together for a family portrait, which now includes grandchildren.  In one picture, you'll notice everyone is wearing hats at Ruth's request. "I have breast cancer. I was diagnosed in 2015, so I'm 13, 14 months into this treatment, and have a few more years of treatment to go."

The Buckels don't have plans to adopt more teens for now, but they want people to know how rewarding the experience is. "It changes your life. I'll say that, in a good way," said Bill.

Ruth added, “It has made me a better parent and brought so much joy and pain and joy back into your life as you watch these youth to go through their transitions."

Christian said, “You're just helping them get through it, and then find the forever job and helping them basically get through life with them having a support group."

You can talk to families like the Buckels about becoming an adoptive family at the upcoming Gingerbread Run for Adoption. It is Sunday, October 2nd at 1 p.m. at Ada Hayden Park in Ames. The group is also holding an additional Gingerbread Run in the metro. That will be Saturday, November 5th at 10 a.m. on the DMACC Campus in Ankeny.

You can register at, with either the keyword Ames or Ankeny.

You can also learn more about becoming an adoptive or foster parent in Iowa at

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