- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

SUMTER, S.C. (AP) - Many are thankful for family this time of year, but about 15 children are especially happy this holiday season.

Their adoptions recently were finalized at Sumter County Judicial Center.

“It’s great, a big relief, awesome,” said Felix Colon after officially adopting his second son. “We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

The 6-year-old came to stay with Colon and his wife, Lisa, about eight months ago. He’d been in the foster care system for about two-and-a-half years.

“Brayden had us at hello,” Lisa Colon said to Judge George M. McFaddin Jr. “I couldn’t love him more if I’d given birth to him myself.”

They planned to go out to eat and have a big celebration later with family and friends, she said.

Darrell Cumbee knows all about feeding growing boys. He completed the adoption of 14-year-old Claude.

“He treats me right,” Claude said. “I feel like he’s a real parent.”

“By ‘treating right,’ he means he gets to eat a lot,” Cumbee said.

He originally met Claude through a mentoring program. When Cumbee learned the teenager was eligible for adoption, he took steps to become a foster parent.

“It was a long process, but everything was approved, and he was placed with me in July,” Cumbee said.

Claude had been in the system since 2008.

“It’s so hard to find a man that wants to be a daddy,” McFaddin said before applauding the single parent.

He has served as the presiding judge on this special adoption finalization day since 2008. Families from Sumter, Clarendon, Kershaw and Richland counties were on the docket.

About 2,500 children are in the state foster care system, according to www.heartfeltcalling.org. Of those, about 600 are eligible for adoption.

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Information from: The Sumter Item, https://www.theitem.com


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