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3 Jacksonville teens get the gift of 'family' this holiday season

8:56 PM, Dec 26, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A permanent home for the holidays. That's the gift three local teenage sisters got this month when they were finally adopted.

"I asked God what I should do, and he said 'just wait, when they get old enough they will come to you,'" said Arthuree Washington, who just adopted her three grandchildren.

Washington said she wanted to be her grandchildren's legal guardian since they were three. She said the girls' mother left them with their other grandmother when they were young and then five years later, they were placed with an uncle.   

"I always wanted them. They used to hide them from me and I couldn't find them," said Washington.

But, the girls say they faced trying times while living at their uncle's.

"It was frustrating, like you always had the sense of, you felt like you were unwanted," said 15-year-old Sidney Hutchinson, who was adopted by her grandmother along with her twin sister and older sister.

Family Support Services said in March, the girls were put out of house and that's when they were removed from that living situation.

"I was real depressed I'm not even going to lie, I was so depressed ... even though I was depressed, I still had my future, I knew what I wanted to do, I knew where I wanted to go. I'm just going to use that to help me get through this," said 15-year-old Destiny Hutchinson, adopted by her grandmother.

They've been living with their grandmother ever since.

"Who wouldn't want beautiful smart girls? These girls are very smart, I mean A straight, I mean they are going somewhere," said Washington.

For the first time, the girls have a lit Christmas tree.

"Do you see our presents underneath the Christmas tree?" said 17-year-old M'Elia Meuse, also adopted by her grandmother.

"We never got Christmas gifts. They didn't believe in giving gifts because they said it's not our birthdays or whatever," said Sidney.

This month, Washington legally adopted her three grandchildren and moved into a new house with space for her entire new family.

"I am so happy. I feel good, I feel real good. I asked the judge 'can I do a flip when I got them,'" said Washington.

Family Support Services of North Florida said over 100 children in Duval and Nassau counties were taken out of foster care and permanently placed with relatives this holiday season, but more than 100 are waiting to be adopted into a home. Learn how you can help by clicking here.

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