HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Nine Horry County families are feeling whole today after their pending adoption cases were finalized as part of South Carolina's "Adoption Day."
Chief Justice Donald Beatty scheduled special terms of court in an effort to finalize 27 adoption cases. The remaining 18 cases were heard in Sumter County.
Three-year-old Maki spent the first 18 months of his life in the ICU after being born with his organs on the outside of his body. He was placed into Kimberly Myers' home two years ago, and she has known since then she wanted to adopt him.
"He was ours the day he came into our home and our hearts," she said after Judge Ronald R. Norton made Maki's adoption official.
Myers now has seven adopted children and has fostered many more since she registered in 2014. She says she is thankful Maki's adoption is final.
"Nobody can take him away. It's secure. Security is what today is for us," she said.
Carolina Forest High School teacher Aundrea Rue's family also grew today – by three. Rue officially adopted siblings Raphael, Victor, and Elianah after fostering Elianah since 2014.
Her passion for helping children led her to become a registered foster parent in 2006, and since then she has fostered seven children.
"Children who are unique, children who need help...that's huge for me. And that's why I got into foster care," Rue said.
She wasn't looking to adopt children at the time, but now says she's honored to be mom to four adopted children. She adopted Isaiah from South Africa in 2016.
"I was actually not looking to adopt. I just wanted to help as many children as I could. And when you know, you know," Rue said.
Rue also volunteers her time advocating for foster children through the Horry County Foster Parent Association.
Statistics show 1,653 adoption cases were filed in South Carolina during 2016. As of July 1, 2017, there are 891 pending adoption cases in the state.
Donald W. Beatty, chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, says finalizing adoption cases is vital to the lives of foster children.
"Adoptions are among the most important cases heard in the family courts. They provide permanency for children and a stable, loving, permanent environment is a key component in which these children are able to thrive," Beatty said.