MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A family reunion with hundreds of people wrapped up in St. Paul Sunday. Few  were related by blood, but the bonds celebrated go beyond genetics.

Alan and Amy Ames of Woodbury, Minn. have 15 kids, ages 4 to 25. After having four biological children, they turned to Children’s Home Society to adopt a little girl. But something made it quite difficult.

“What we saw of her was a feeling of incredible loss,” Amy said.

The little girl missed her siblings. So, the Woodbury teacher and a stay-at-home mom decided the next time they adopted, they’d find a sibling group.

“When they’re together they don’t feel as alone, like they’re in this with somebody,” Amy said.

Now, they’ve adopted four sibling groups total, 15 kids in all.

“We put way more limits on ourselves than other people do,” Alan said.

So, on Sunday, Alan and Amy took the younger brood to a carnival with a purpose. It was a day not just to celebrate being a kid, but to honor the process of becoming someone’s child.

Mari Bonhoff was born in Korea, raised in Minnesota and now lives in Minneapolis. She attended the reunion Sunday.

“Being able to connect with other people makes you be able to reflect on your own personal story,”

Bonhoff and her parents posed at the large-scale celebration hosted by Lutheran Social Service with Children’s Home Society — groups who’ve been making families for more than 125 years.

Bonhoff’s family was made in 1983.

“It’s such a cliché to say what a gift adoption is, but it’s really true, it was a gift to me and it was a gift to my parents,” Bonhoff said.

That’s cause for a party.

“We believe family is who your loved by and who you’re loved with,” Amy said.

The groups who hosted Sunday’s parties say they have 520 children, some of them in sibling groups, who are ready for adoption in Minnesota right now.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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