Orphans and Adoption
If a child is orphaned - whether it's both parents or just the father and whether they die or get shipped to work camps - they are first offered to the nearest male paternal relatives. Working from the nearest relation to the furthest, these men would be given the option to adopt the child or children regardless of their wife's current number of children or if they currently have a wife or not. Relatives that do not have their own home (yet to be drafted or moved into a seniors complex) are not eligible to adopt.
The only time a child would be offered to a non-paternal relative would be in the event of the man leaving behind a will with clear intentions that the child or children go to someone specific. Though, if the men in question were not on the right side of the law, concerned family members would have the option to fight the will in court.
If no paternal relatives are found, or if none of them choose to adopt the child they would then be placed in an orphanage and opened up for a potential non-familial adoption. In the event that one of the siblings is male, he could petition the courts to grant him guardianship once he is drafted with a home of his own. This is frowned upon and gently discouraged by making it a pain-in-the-butt of a legal process. The Trust would prefer you focus on the new family you'll make with your new wife. It would take a great deal of time and personal expense so it might not be worth it if your siblings are only in the orphanage another year or two. This method could also be used by a former adoptive mother with a willing new husband, but any hesitation from the new husband would be help up as reason not to grant custody.
Tidewater currently hosts two orphanages. Sophie's Place is the original Tidewater facility and St. Jerome's, the transplant from Ashpoint. Both are large homes in the Old Town district which host around 20-30 children at any given time. Each orphanage has a live-in director (as well as any family they bring with them) and a handful of live-in nannies.
Sophie's Place does not currently have a director in play, please PM the Mods if you'd like to discuss this character job. St. Jerome's director is Gideon Garrison.
Life for Orphans
For newborns and toddlers, life in the orphanage is generally short lived. Most will be scooped up within a year or less. For older children who find themselves there the orphanage is likely to become your home. Girls will still attend and live at St. Martha's once they are old enough, but their weekend and summers are back in the Orphanage. You will also remain there until you are drafted, the same as kids living with their parents, so you will find a few "over-18" orphans still living there awaiting their drafts. The houses will generally have a bit of a dorm-room feel. You likely share a room with more than one other kid, the same gender as you and as close to the same age as the staff can manage. Hopefully you aren't too attached to the concept of privacy.
The Adoption Process
Couple interested in adoption must first speak to their doctor. The Trust doesn't want anyone adopting a pack of children only to become pregnant with their own and exceeding their all important number of three. The couple would undergo a full battery of fertility tests to see if they can find a reason why they have not conceived. If the doctor finds them to be fully functioning reproductive machines the doctor may send them for couples therapy before they are cleared to adopt. The Trust wants to be entirely certain that no children will come naturally before clearing them for the adoption process.
From this point the couple can make an appointment with a director of an orphanage. The director will take them through the process and assess the couple and their home. The couple can request certain ages, genders or attributes for their future child and the director can recommend children they think might be a good fit. Parents who want a newborn will be put on a waiting list and called when one becomes available. Potential parents looking to adopt an older child can meet them a maximum of three times before making their decision. Once the ink is dried on the paperwork all decisions are final. Congratulations, you have a child!
So you've been cleared and adopted, but then the unthinkable happens! Wifey turns up pregnant. Never fear, if you haven't adopted up to three the pregnancy will proceed as normal. You will be removed from the "okayed to adopt" list and complete your family the way the Trust intended. If you don't conceive a third child after five years you will have the option of going through the clearance process again.
Should you have three children when the wife comes in for a check-up the doctor will find a problem with the fetus. The wife will suffer a tragic "miscarriage" and later the Doctor will arrange for her to be sterilized to prevent any further fertility issues for the family.