A recent article in The Kansas City Star, “’We Feel Blessed’: Kansas ‘Fab Five’ Siblings’ Viral Adoption Story has Happy Ending” details retired Partner Gene Balloun’s integral role in the adoption of five siblings who had previously been placed in separate foster homes. Gene represented Jeff and Toni Whaley in the adoption of the siblings, ages 3 to 12, who were known as the Kansas “Fab Five.”
The children’s story spread after a state-produced video featuring the children’s plea went viral, and the Whaleys jumped at the chance to adopt them. The Star ran a story on the Fab Five soon after the video was released, and reported that the Whaleys said they were “fortunate to apply for adoption before inquiries came in from around the globe.” The adoption was finalized in Johnson County District Court May 30.
Shook founded the Kansas Foster Children Adoption and Scholarship Program, which provides college tuition grants to people formerly in the foster care system. The program is funded by state-paid fees for completed pro bono adoption cases. "When these five children reach college age, they'll qualify for the help," Gene told the Star.
Balloun and Shook’s Pro Bono Practice team have provided assistance to families and children in more than 1,000 local adoption cases, and Balloun has been a foster parent to 29 children over several decades.