PASCAGOULA -- When Josh Braim came to their home as a child on the cusp of those trying teen-age years, the Necaises were told he was a "bad" kid.
The first thing he said to them was, "When are you going to adopt me?"
It was Valentine's Day, 2013. Josh, 15, had been looking for his forever home for years. He had already lived with seven families by the time he arrived at the Necaise home in Vancleave. Several times previously, he had come close to being adopted, but he always tested his boundaries and blew the placement, said Debbie Brandis, his mentor and friend since 2009 as a volunteer with Jackson County Court Appointed Special Advocates.
"This is the first family that let him push," Brandis said. "They are elastic."
In a Jackson County Chancery courtroom, the Necaises and six other families finalized the adoptions of Braim and seven other children who had been wards of the state Department of Human Services. Forever Day, they call the occasion because the children have found their forever families.
A table in the courtroom was laden with cake, flowers and gifts for each of the children to enjoy once the official business was done.
Outside the courtroom, Chevron had commissioned photographer William Colgin to shoot family portraits.
Timothy and Brittany Herring did not realize it for years, but Forever Day had been waiting for them. The Greene County couple tried for 11 years to conceive a child. They suffered through five miscarriages before they decided to foster children and, hopefully, adopt. Roger Wilson came into their lives two years ago Thursday as a 10-month-old.
"God couldn't have planned a more perfect child for us than Roger," Brittany Herring said. "He looks like us. He acts like us. God knew we needed him and he needed us."
When DHS sent the letter in September that said the adoption would be finalized, the relief was indescribable. There had always been the chance it wouldn't happen.
They were one of the first families to stand before Chancery Court Judge Jaye Bradley "in the matter of the adoption of a minor child." Lauren Sonnier of Ocean Springs served as the attorney for a small stipend because, as she asked, "How could you not?"
Her voice cracked with tears as she asked the Herrings a series of questions. Why were they here? Did they want the adoption more than anything? Did they understand Roger would be one of their heirs? Several parents in the audience wiped at their eyes, too.
Roger called out, "There's a microphone" when he spotted one on a courtroom podium. And then his name officially became Roger Remington-Will Herring. Remington because Brittany Herring liked the name and Will because it is a variation on family names. Brittany Herring hugged her son and cried.
Little Roger patted her and asked in his toddler's voice, "Are you OK?"
Josh Braim wrestled with his foster dad, Billy Necaise, in the hall until it was their turn to stand before the judge, along with his foster mom, Angela Necaise. Brandis watched in the audience. And then the young man she had grown to understand and love became Joshua Wayne Necaise, a foster child no longer.
Brandis hugged him hard.
"My baby boy," she said, "he waited for the right place, the right time." And the right forever family.