CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – There are 570 children ready to be adopted in South Carolina.
Wednesday was South Carolina Adoption Day, and families filled the Horry County Courthouse to officially add new members to their families. Eight families in Horry County adopted twelve children.
Shannon Marand and her husband, Jerome Marand, were one of those families, and for them, adoption comes full circle.
“I was adopted when I was four days old. My mom adopted me from Georgia and moved to Myrtle Beach, and in our home, it was celebrated,” said Marand.
From an early age, Marand says she knew she wanted to give a child the life that her mother made for her.
“From the moment I could understand words, my mom said, you know, a nice lady grew you in her tummy, but she let me choose you,” said Shannon.
It wasn’t until she and her husband found out they wouldn’t be able to have children that she knew adoption would be her only option.
“It’s a difficult pill to swallow that I’m not going to experience growing a baby in my belly, and the initial shock was tough, and it took a long time and J, my husband, really helped me get through that time. He said it didn’t matter how we started a family, it mattered that we started a family,” said Shannon.
That’s how the couple built what they call “Team Marand,” a story of two. That is, until 13-year-old CJ walked into their home as a foster child.
“From the moment CJ walked into my door, I’ll never forget it. He walked in at night on a Friday, and there was something there,” recalls Marand.
Thursday, the Marands became a team of three, and wore shirts branded as a team inside the courtroom. The court process, though, is something Shannon’s husband considers just a formality.
“It doesn’t feel any different. We’ve been feeling that for about a year now, so it’s just a signature on paperwork,” said Jerome Marand.
The thirteen-year-old football and basketball star is a man of few words, but when you ask why he’s joining “Team Marand,” the answer is easy.
“Because it’s my family,” said CJ.
Eight foster homes later, CJ may think he needed the Marands…
“I’m glad that I finally have a family that cares and treats and loves me,” said CJ.
But, truth be told, the Marands needed CJ.
“I never thought that I would have someone call me mom, and this year, I have someone to call me mom. I’m going to wake up on Christmas morning and have a son that says, ‘thanks, mom,’ and, ‘I love you, mom.’ It’s going to be an amazing feeling,” said Shannon.
Throughout South Carolina, 48 children like CJ were adopted Wednesday.