A mother of three is now officially a mom of 9 after adopting her best friend’s children.
Beth Laitkep, 39, died of breast cancer in May, and her last wish was for her six children to be raised by her close friend, Stephanie Culley.
“We started dancing as soon as the judge made his ruling,” Culley told ABC News. “It was like winning the Super Bowl for us. It was an amazing day yesterday.”
Laikep of Danville, Virginia was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. According to the Washington Post, she was pregnant with her youngest child, Ace, at the time.
Ace was delivered by emergency C-section, so she could immediately undergo chemotherapy treatments.
The treatments helped her beat cancer once, but recently it came back.
According to People, as Laitkep’s condition got worse, her husband abandoned her and his family. Laitkep had to rely on friends for support.
Culley, who had been friends with Laikep since high school, says she was both shocked and honored when Laitkep asked her to take her kids in.
“We discussed it as a family and my kids were the first to say yes,” said Culley. “They had gotten really close with [Beth’s] kids. My husband was like a deer in headlights, but he knew that this was what we had to do.”
The Culleys officially gained full custody of Beth’s four kids on July 19.
Stephanie Culley says she couldn’t be more happy with her big family.
“When I first realized that I was going to do this I was scared to death,” Culley told ABC News, “but as we walked this journey, it’s so much better than anything I had in my head. It’s just amazing to watch all these kids interact and love each other so much.