If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a community to adopt a family.
The Joe and Jill McNally family is being recognized as an inspiration following the adoption of three siblings - Jazmine, 8; Juliana, 7; and Joseph Kristian, 4.
Nebraska U.S. Senator Deb Fischer nominated the family this week to receive the congressional “Angels in Adoption” award.
The McNallys, who live in Neligh, said the adoption has been successful for two reasons - everyone was adopted and community support.
"We really feel lucky that they adopted us, too," Jill McNally said of her three children. "I think a lot of focus has been on us adopting them, but it's them adopting us, too."
As if the smiles aren't testament enough of the children's happiness with their new family, their desire to be a family of Js is even more proof they are now one unit. They are now legally Joseph, Jill, Jazmine, Juliana and Joseph Kristian McNally.
The McNallys learned of the nomination about three weeks ago. Joe, an attorney, and Jill, a physical therapist, adopted the three siblings in April of 2014 and have done an extraordinary job transitioning these three children into their home – all while staying active in their community, according to a news release.
“Joe and Jill McNally are beautiful examples of how adoptive parents can forever change the lives of children in need of stable, loving homes," Fischer said. "Their selflessness and devotion to these three children are an inspiration for the community of Neligh and all Nebraskans. By shining a light on the McNallys with this award, I hope to encourage more Nebraska families to consider the loving option of adoption to grow their families and enrich their lives.”
While going from a couple to a family isn't easy, Jill McNally called it a dream come true.
"We feel very blessed," she said. "It's tough, but it's worth it. We really feel like this has been possible because we were adopted, too, and because of the support we've received from the Elgin and Neligh communities."
While Jill McNally said she feels very honored to be nominated for the award, she said the family shares this recognition with the residents of Elgin and Neligh. While the McNallys live in Neligh, their children attend St. Boniface Catholic School in Elgin. The family has been active in the communities for years from Jill coaching youth sports and Joe volunteering as a firefighter to both serving on various boards across the county.
"There's no no way we could have put this family together without these two communities. We did not do this on our own. This nomination goes to Elgin and Neligh, too," she said. "If we would had been in another community, I'm not sure if this would have worked."
Founded in 2001, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), a non-profit organization, provides programs to bring together policymakers and individuals with direct foster care or adoption experience.
CCAI’s “Angels in Adoption” program honors individuals, couples, and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions on behalf of children in need of families. Honorees come from across the country and represent the wide spectrum of individuals involved in the adoption and foster care process. Since the program’s inception in 1999, almost 2,000 Angels have been honored.