OLATHE — Thousands of adoption inquiries rolled in from as far away as Ireland and New Zealand after a simple plea from five Kansas siblings: They wanted to be adopted together.

The flood of offers followed a story in the Kansas City Star about the three boys and two girls, who became known as the “Fab Five.” The newspaper story drew nearly 7 million online readers, and an unprecedented number of adoption inquiries crashed the state-contracted Adopt Kansas Kids website a day after the story ran.

But it turns out that a local couple had narrowly beat the flood of interest. And on Wednesday, the couple formally became parents.

A judge officially approved Jeff and Toni Whaley’s request to adopt the five children, who range in age from 3 to 12, during a ceremony in Johnson County courtroom.

“We feel blessed,” Jeff Whaley said. Added 9-year-old Layla, the chattiest of the siblings: “It was really, really important that we stay together.”