The Stevens family needed two minivans to haul seven children all adopted to York Countys Family Court on Thursday.
Christian and Cara Stevens were there to hear a judge affirm something they say theyve known for years: adopting special needs children is a spiritual calling.
While granting the Stevens adoption of a 17-year-old girl from South Carolina, Judge David Guyton got an Amen from the courtroom which didnt have an empty seat, filled with friends and family.
There is a special place in Heaven for you, Mr. and Mrs. Stevens, for what you have done, Guyton said in court. This is what Gods work is all about.
All seven of the Stevenses children are special needs children. One of their daughters is blind, one son has a learning disability and their youngest was born with fetal alcohol syndrome.
The newest addition to their family is a cancer survivor and she has a hearing disability. The Herald is not using the girls name at the request of the family.
Ranging in ages from 6 to 17, the Stevenses children represent five countries. They also have an adult son, 21, who was adopted as a minor.
Over the years, theyve converted their carport to living space, making more room for more children.
Their Rock Hill home is pretty tight quarters, Christian Stevens, 43, said, but usually everyone gets along.
We try to keep everything focused primarily on the Lord, he said. We always tell our kids that were all the same, theres no difference between us.
Their pastor, Marshall Fant of Harvest Baptist Church, said the Stevenses are the perfect example of loving, adoptive parents.
They do it for the right reasons, he said. They do it for the kids, not for themselves.
With their house and two minivans full, Christian and Cara Stevens said Thursdays adoption may be their last but they will continue to pray for children who still need loving homes.
Cara, 39, still looks at adoption websites and prays for God to open a door.
I really wish more people would pray about adoption, Christian Stevens said. There are kids out there in need.
Natoya Williams, 30, found the child that needed her in Louisiana on Feb. 22, 2012.
Four-year-old Faith had been in foster care since she was about 2 years old, Williams said.
She told Judge Guyton on Thursday that the bond between her and Faith was like an instant attachment.
Faith never had an adjustment period, she said. It was like shed always been there.
Like the Stevenses 17-year-old child, Faith has lived with her new family for the past few months before becoming legally adopted on Thursday.
Faiths new brother, 11-year-old Quay, said hes ready to be a good big brother and said Faith is fun to be around.
Even at age 4, Faith understands what adoption is, her mom said. Faith called Williams her new mommy the day she picked her up in New Orleans, she said.
Before the Williamses turn in front of Judge Guyton, Faith danced and skipped around the Family Court waiting room, occasionally jumping into the arms of her mother, grandmother, aunt and great aunts.
The Williamses and Stevenses were among eight families who had their adoptions made legal in court on Friday.
Judge Guyton waived the three-month wait time for finalization of the adoptions because the end of the year is close and the children all had special needs.
During the formal court session, adoption lawyer Dale Dove asked each to-be parent if they were financially able to take care of the child and if they had emotionally bonded with the child.
Christian Stevens told the judge that absolutely hed bonded with his 17-year-daughter.
On the first day they met, she told him, Just to let you know, Im going to be a daddys girl.
With pride, Stevens told the judge that he responded with, Not a problem.