Couple Adopts All Six of Friend’s Children After She Passes Away From Cancer

National   |   Emily Derois   |   Jul 25, 2016   |   9:57AM   |   Washington, DC

After her close friend Beth Laitkep died from cancer, Stephanie Culley and her husband made a sacrificial decision that few others would – they adopted Beth’s six children.

Beth Laitkep died on May 19 from breast cancer, leaving behind six children: Will, 15, Selena, 14, Jaxson, 12, Dallas, 10, Lily, 5, and Ace 2, FGT News reports.

Beth was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, and underwent chemotherapy at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. On April 13, Beth was told that despite the treatments, the cancer had spread to her brain, spinal cord and nervous system, according to FGT. After this discovery, Beth asked her friend Stephanie Culley, mother of three, to adopt her children.

Culley described the conversation to ABC News: “She said, ‘I know you will do this for me, but can you raise nine kids? Can you take my babies, all of them and keep them together?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I have to pray about this, I have to talk to my husband about this. We discussed it as a family and my kids were the first to say yes. They had gotten really close with [Beth’s] kids. My husband was like a deer in headlights, but he knew that this was what we had to do.

“Beth explained to her kids that it was very possible that we weren’t going to get a miracle and she might not make it. If that happened, she asked them what they wanted and so, that sealed the deal,” Culley added.

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Directly after hearing the news regarding the spread of cancer, Beth and the Culleys had temporary custody papers drawn up for Beth’s six children. The Alton, Virginia family gained full custody of Beth’s children on July 19, making their family of five grow to 11, according to the report.

Beth’s friend and nurse practitioner Patti Nami described her excitement at hearing that the children were adopted by the Culleys: “I know it’s exactly what Beth wanted. I was with Beth once she knew Stephanie [Culley] was going to be responsible. It just made things so much better for her. Those children are extremely amazing human beings because of the gift that Beth gave them and the way she raised them. She had a lot to overcome. That’s the part of the story I don’t want people to forget is what Beth did.”

The decision to adopt Beth’s children has brought so much joy to the Culleys. Stephanie Culley explained that her outlook changed with the adoption.

“My husband and I laugh because we didn’t really plan on having any kids and here we are with nine. I picture the future as us having this huge, big, happy family. When I first realized that I was going to do this I was scared to death, but as we walked this journey, it’s so much better than anything I had in my head. It’s just amazing to watch all these kids interact and love each other so much. Don’t get me wrong, they have days where they want to fight, but most days they get along. I just hope they will learn from us and be positive influences in society. That’s our goal.”