Cobb couple adopts 11th and 12th children just in time for Christmas

Christmas for the Rager family will be merry and bright. And big.

Just days before the holiday, Cobb County foster parents Lisa and Wesley Rager adopted their 11th and 12th children, biological sisters ages 6 and 8. The girls join an ever-expanding family with even more to celebrate this year when they gather for their Christmas Eve fondue party and other traditions, such as watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

”They are a part of our family forever,” said Lisa. “The girls finally have a safety net. They are going to stay.”

The Rager family’s 12 adopted children range in age from 4 to 19. The couple have been providing foster care for about 15 years, said Lisa, who also has two adult biological daughters. Over that time, the Ragers have cared for more than 100 children, including many who’ve suffered from abuse and neglect as well as those with behavior challenges and special needs.

Credit: Lisa Rager

Credit: Lisa Rager

“I have not come across a family as dedicated as this, and these children are so lucky to have landed in this home,” said Toby Holzer, a court-appointed special advocate, or CASA, in Cobb County.

She got to know the Ragers through her volunteer work on behalf of children in the court system and served as the CASA for two children who became Ragers’ ninth and 10th adopted children.

In 2021, after Holzer’s recommendation, the couple were named Angels in Adoption honorees by the nonprofit Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute in Washington, D.C.

Lisa grew up in a big family and previously taught in a child care center. Wesley has spent his career as a packaging engineer. Together, Lisa said, they wanted to help children “that need love and patience and just guidance until their families can get them back.”

They try to make sure the children they foster stay connected to their birth families even if they end up adopting them, she said. They also strive to keep siblings together, as they did with the two newest members, sisters whom they adopted at the same time.

“They both love to be hugged and loved,” said Lisa. “They call each other ‘Sissy.’ They have the strongest connection. Where one is, the other one has to be.”

Credit: Lisa Rager

Credit: Lisa Rager

The Ragers have the support of many friends and relatives who showed up at the Cobb County courtroom for the girls’ adoption.

Debbi Snyder was among seven teachers from Pitner Elementary School in Acworth who witnessed the proceedings. Over the years she’s taught many of the Rager children and has gotten to know Lisa and Wesley. The parents are loving and open, sweet while also setting high expectations, she said.

”They both just have a way of making you feel comfortable with them. You trust them. I know that’s huge for the kids,” Snyder said.

Even before their adoption, the two girls were writing out “Rager” as their last name on schoolwork and coloring pages. The older of the two girls loves to dance and make art. Her bouncy younger sister likes to ride a skateboard, play baseball or with Barbies and host tea parties.

She kept telling Lisa: “I’m staying forever.”