JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A handful of local children have new families and are out of the foster care system -- just in time for the holidays.
The adoptions were made final Friday during a "Home for the Holidays" event at the Duval County Courthouse.
After a long adoption process, the foster children will be able to spend the holidays in a forever home.
"It's overwhelming,” adoptive parent April Beck said.
Beck and her husband, Herbert Beck, now have two preteen daughters in their household.
"We like to drive Mom crazy by horse playing in the house when she tells us not to,” 10-year-old Cadence Beck said.
After Cadence was born, the Becks had a difficult time having more children, so they decided to adopt. But they were leaning toward a younger child.
"We were looking for someone 5 and under,” Herbert said.
But Cadence wanted someone around her age.
"She wrote an essay about why we needed a tween instead of a little baby because she wanted to have someone to play with,” Herbert said.
Statistically, teenage foster kids are less likely to get adopted before they turn 18, because many families opt to adopt a baby or young child.
But 11-year-old Imani won't become one of those statistics, thanks to the Becks. They met Imani at an ice skating show.
"We actually sat right next to Imani and the foster parent she was with at that time,” Herbert said. “The girls got to play a little bit and didn't think anything of it at the time."
He said it was fate that brought them together.
"I was just like, 'I want Imani. I want Imani,'” Cadence said.
April said the girls get along so well, it's hard to believe they haven't always been sisters.
"Since she's the same height and the same age, I get to talk to her about big girl things,” Imani said. "I really like how they are so loving and caring for a foster child and everyone around them."
Herbert said that acceptance and kindness stems from their faith.
"We believe the Lord adopted us,” Herbert said. “That's what the whole season is about."
But he admitted he'll be pulling double duty now, keeping the boys away.
"I'm saving up to buy some guns,” he joked.
Seven local families grew this holiday season, and another girl who found a forever home was 17-year-old Agnes.
She'd been part of the foster care system for some time and was nervous about finding a family.
"I was second-guessing it. I took my time, and I thought of the future, and I'm lucky that I said yes and to have them in my life,” Agnes said of her new family, the Crosbys.
Agnes' new mom, Rebecca Crosby, said that she and her husband had always wanted to adopt and help an older child who might fall through the cracks.
"It feels amazing. We're so excited. This is going to be the best Christmas ever," Rebecca said. "We really do feel like she's been part of our family forever. It doesn't feel like it's been a few months. We can't imagine our lives without her."