WADMALAW, S.C. (WCBD) — Thornley party of 14. A Wadmalaw family takes the words “big family” to a heartwarming level. The loving and unique family is not only big in size, they have big hearts as well. They are proving the saying true, parenthood requires love, not DNA. We introduce you to George and Diana Thornley, our Everyday Heroes.
George and Diana Thornley have 12 children, from 8 months to 16 years old, adopted from around the world, nine international adoptions and three within the United States. The Thornley kids come from China, Ethiopia, Panama, Oregon, North Carolina, and New York.
When George and Diana got married in 2005, they had no plans to have children. Diana says, “He has three biological children from his previous marriage, and so that was it. We were just traveling and doing fun things. Then George brought up the idea of adoption to me when we lived downtown, and Christian World Adoption was right around the corner, and that’s what started it. We prayed about it, and felt that God was leading us to adopt. We just really started seeing the need for adoption, and we have enough space, and enough love to bring more kids into the family. Thank God! He had a plan for me I was not aware of. I can’t imagine having none of my children.”
The Thornleys make use of every inch of their eight-bedroom Wadmalaw home. Diana says, “We try to parent them according to their needs. It’s great. It’s chaos. It’s busy all the time. We have some really hard days and really crummy days, and we have some really amazing days. I think anybody can say that whether they have no children or a couple of children, or as many as we have. You have good days and bad days, quite a blessing.”
Now the Thornleys advocate for adoption. George says, “If it was a perfect world, every time a kid cried and called out, there would be a parent for them, but this world is broken, needs to be fixed. Maybe we can fix it one child at a time. In this case three children at a time.” “I don’t think adoption is for everybody, but I think that what’s important is that there are so many children out there that need homes, not about just newborns, the older children,” says Diana.
Some of the Thornley kids were adopted as babies, others were older. “There are many kids from many different countries and right here in America that need homes, at 3-years-old, at 12-years-old, at 14-years-old,” says Diana. “It’s amazing when you see a child that comes home at the age of thirteen and has never had the love of a family, and doesn’t know what unconditional love is.” Nine-year-old Bella Thornley was adopted from Ethiopia when she was nineteen months. “They gave me a home, food, bed, and they love me a lot,” says Bella. Li-Li was the first Thornley child to be adopted. She was adopted from China when she was sixteen months. She says, “I like how our family is pretty organized for how big it is. Even though I was the one who was here first, now the family is getting bigger. It just feels normal.”
George is an electrical engineer for the Department of Defense and works in Philadelphia. The family’s Au Pair Thami, an exchange student from Brazil says her experience with the Thornleys has changed her life. Thami says, “I was a completely different person when I got here, and now its changed me, opened your heart.”
When asked how much she spends on groceries, and how much laundry she does, Diana says, “We do budget. There are meals where we have rice and beans and the beans are the protein, so we don’t eat meat every single meal, but I can get probably with dog food, diapers, and everything, right at 22-hundred a month, which is very good. The kids do their own laundry for the most part, and it’s paired up. For example, Thomas he shares a room with his eight-year-old brother. He does their laundry on Tuesday and Friday, and if they miss their day they don’t get their laundry done. We have it set up it’s already going three times a day with towels and linen and clothes.”
George and Diana say they have no plans to adopt more children right now, but they’ve said that before. Diana says, “We don’t know. We always say we’re done.” “But there is an empty seat in the van,” says George. “There’s one seat left,” Diana says.
The Thornley family travels around the world, and Diana is very hands on, very active at all of her kids schools and after school activities. She’s even seen at school sporting events with baby on her side helping to serve at the concession stand.
The Thornley family are big advocates for adoption. If you would like more information on adoption, contact Nightlight Christian Adoptions or Lifeline Children’s Services.
Diana says you can also contact her directly, 843-343-7399 or firstname.lastname@example.org.