HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Christmas came early for eight families in Horry County as they heard a judge finalize the adoption of their little ones Wednesday during December Adoption Day.
The South Carolina Supreme Court declared the day as December Adoption Day for judges in four counties to hear 48 children's final adoption hearings from the state's foster care system.
Approximately 12 children from eight different families were invited to the Horry County Government and Justice Center by their adoption specialist to go before a judge and be placed in a permanent home.
Right now there are a total of 570 children who are available for adoption from the foster care system in South Carolina, according to the state's Department of Social Services.
The average age of children seeking adoption is 10 to 11 years old.
One family traveled from Sumter County for Adoption Day. Mother Kaela Fleming adopted her second child, 1-year-old Nolan, to grow up with his brother, 3-year-old Mason.
Fleming has raised both boys since they were just a couple of weeks old.
"Biologically, they are my second cousins, so I am very close with the birth father. I never really thought about adopting," she said. "I've always loved kids, I'm a single mom so it's me and them two, him and his brother, so it's worked out really well. I wanted kids and I knew I wanted kids. I just never envisioned how it would happen. So for it to happen this way, I feel like it was God's will for it to happen like that."
The boys needed a permanent home and the Fleming family has a special story.
Kaela Fleming said her mom and dad adopted the boys' 5-year-old sister, Lexi, so all the siblings can grow up together.
"There's always that fear of am I ready or it's not the time, but it's always the time," she said. "They aren't ready for their situations or ready to be in DSS, but they still need a home. You jump and God willing you're going to land together."
Though the journey has been long, Fleming and her parents agree on one thing - it's all worth it.
"When you have an opportunity to do something that will make a life-long difference for them, you have no reason not to and the adjustments we make or the sacrifices are small to the comparison to the benefits to what these kids will have for the rest of their life," Edward Fleming said.
The family has been told they need to write a book and share their inspirational story with others. They encourage patience if a family is considering, but the children always make the time worth the wait.
"I know the case workers wish they could do it faster but its really to cover all the bases. It's long, but it's worth it," Kaela Fleming said.