They went Sunday to their third Christmas party for foster children, but this year was different for siblings Bryce Spurlock, 7, and Jada Ralph, 5.
And it wasn’t because Santa flew in for the first time on a helicopter to the Bay St. Louis Community Hall, where about 150 foster children and the adults who support them gathered for the fourth annual Foster the Cause.
After several years of uncertainty, Bryce and Jada finally have been adopted. Their grandmother, Gloria Ramirez, officially became their mom Nov. 16.
They nod, wide-eyed, when asked if they’re glad to finally have a permanent home. Ramirez, a registered nurse, plans to change her last name back to her maiden name, Genna, so she can give the kids the same last name.
This wasn’t how she thought life would be at 49 years old. Ramirez had planned to go back to work as a traveling nurse when she turned 50. But the children were in an unstable home environment. Her daughter lost custody more than two years ago.
Ramirez said the adoption process was slow and stressful. She’s glad it is finally is over.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world,” she said, “It’s too quiet when they’re gone.”
Ramirez had to work Sunday at the Dixie White House Nursing Home, so her parents took Bryce and Jada to the Christmas party, sponsored by the Hancock County Youth Court, Court Appointed Special Advocates and Child Protection Services.
The children enjoyed games, food, rides and, of course, a visit from Santa. Each of them received a bag of Christmas gifts picked from lists they filled out.
Ramirez was hoping the kids would wait until she got home to open their presents.
But Bryce announced, “I’m opening mine in the car.”