27 children adopted into 13 families in time for holidays

Mike, Amy, Cherokee and Austin Draft attend an adoption ceremony.
Mike, Amy, Cherokee and Austin Draft attend an adoption ceremony.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Twenty-seven local children got quite the early Christmas present Friday -- a place to call home.

Thirteen families finalized their adoption processes in front of Judge David Gooding during his annual Home for the Holidays event.

He started the adoption event 10 years ago to officially unite numerous foster children with loving adoptive families in time for the holidays.

Gooding said what made this year's event even more special is most of the adoptions involved siblings. He said children losing their birth parents is hard enough, so being able to keep siblings together means so much to not only the children, but also their new families.

"It's such a blessing," said Amy Drafts, an adoptive mother of two.

Amy and her husband, Mike, have been foster parents to siblings 13-year-old Cherokee and 7-year-old Austin for months. Amy said they knew from Day One the four of them were meant to be together, adding it doesn't hurt that they look alike.

"You always hope everyone looks like each other, and it so happens we do in our case, and we are so fortunate and blessed," Amy said.

Cherokee is excited for Christmas but is really looking forward to 2014.

"A whole new year with them," she said.

Another child adopted Friday was 1-year-old Yisha Saline. Her mother was tragically killed in July. Yisha's grandmother Julia Saline adopted her and said she knows her daughter is smiling down on them.

"I'm sure she is very happy, overwhelmed, and I'm just excited," Julia said. "Today was a blessful, beautiful day for us, the whole family."

Julia said she's so happy she can officially call Yisha her own and said the whole process has been wonderful.

"I'd just like to thank everyone who participated in seeing this go through for us today, a very good day," she said. "I love you. I love everyone."

For more information on adoption, visit the Family Support Services website.