Becoming One Family

Edmond residents Ashley and Wiley Cunningham were a long way from home. Standing in an Ethiopian courtroom on a hot summer day in 2007, Ashley’s attention was divided between the judges whose ruling would alter the Cunningham’s lives forever and the broken, sobbing woman across the room from her. Ashley crossed the room and stopped the woman’s tears. With a promise.

In 2006 the Cunninghams, a family’s family if ever there was one, received devastating news. Having future children was a biological impossibility. Wanting desperately to add siblings to their already impressive brood of six, the Cunninghams turned to adoption to grow their family. More specifically, they turned to adopting foreign children – those with the greatest need and the least opportunities.

Their first foray into the tangled, bureaucratic world of foreign adoption was taxing, but the payoff was tremendous. The next member of the Cunningham family was a beautiful baby girl, Gabrielle. “The moment we saw her, we knew this was our baby girl,” says Ashley.

The Cunningham family has a lot of love to go around, and they had no intention of stopping there. They geared up to do battle with the mountains of adoption paperwork they knew so well and started searching for new family members.

To their surprise, their next children came to them.

“In June of 2007 I received an e-mail about five siblings in Ethiopia,” says Ashley, “There was a nationwide call out to adoption agencies to find a way to keep them together. There was a picture attached, and when I opened it, I just knew these were our children.”

Wiley was wary. “I wasn’t sure,” he says, “I thought we’d have possibly one or two more, but this was unexpected. As a family, everyone came together