By BECKY MALEWITZ
Robert and Joy Phillips of Garden City said they were surprised when they received news that they were receiving one of this year's Angels in Adoption Awards from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute in Washington D.C.
"I was kind of shocked," Joy said while sitting in her living room with Robert, surrounded by their six adopted children. "You know, you think you're done with adoption and fostering, and then they call and say we have this award to give you."
The Phillips, who already had two biological children of their own, Grace, now 30, and Trey, 28, decided to begin fostering children years ago with the intention of adopting. Today, the Phillips family is six members larger with the additions of Noah, 12, Hope, 11, Peace, 9, Christian, 9, Faith, 6, and Micah, 4, all of whom they adopted as infants, except Faith, who was 1 when she joined the family.
"We just pretty much always started out with the idea to give love to the kids that needed it," Robert said.
Because foster parents cannot have more than six children younger than 16 at one time, the Phillips have stopped fostering children after 10 years and more than 40 foster children have come through their home.
"We basically adopted ourselves out of being foster parents," Joy said, adding that although adoption was always their intention, they didn't necessarily think they would end up adopting six children. "I wouldn't say we expected six, but I will say that six is harder to raise than two. There's a lot more chaos, a lot more talking, a lot more homework, a lot more activities. We have four in basketball and two in football, and the girls are in gymnastics. It's not an easy task and homework is — awful."
The family is excited about traveling to Washington D.C. to receive their award. Even though the trip will be an out-of-pocket expense, they feel it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to take all the kids to the nation's capital, where in addition to the banquet they will see the sights.
"We just felt like it was an opportunity for the kids," Joy said.
The kids are excited about their upcoming trip but scared about flying for the first time. Peace talks about the seat belts they will wear when the plane takes off and lands while Hope asks if it is going to hurt when their ears pop on the flight.
Regardless of their flight worries, Joy and Robert will be there every step of the way before and after their vacation, and the Phillips' kids are fine with that.
"You didn't adopt me," Noah said as he played on a tablet sitting across the living room from his parents, "I adopted you."