A teenage girl from Indiana has been adopted after being in and out of the foster care system since she was a baby.
Last month, 17-year-old Scarlet struck the ceremonial mallet at her own adoption hearing -- making it official that she finally had a forever home, and a family to spend Christmas with.
"It was very emotional," new foster mom Patty told "Good Morning America." "Me and her, we had a hard time keeping the tears in. When she said this was going to be her first official holiday with her real family and that she never had that before, that really tore me up."
Patty, who declined to give her surname, said she and her husband, Mike, discussed adoption for a bit and later got approved to do so. Mike is Patty's second husband and she has three boys from a previous marriage.
In May, the couple attended an Indiana Adoption Program meet-and-greet hosted by Children's Bureau Inc. at which they got acquainted with adoptable children.
"We wanted to have a young child, maybe between ages 6 and 10," Patty said. "That's what we went in thinking and then we got there and things just changed."
Mike and Patty were introduced to Scarlet and the three immediately hit it off.
"I told my husband, 'There's something about this girl, I really liked her,'" Patty recalled. "My husband said, 'I have this feeling -- we need to adopt her.'"
Patty said that after the meet-and-greet, she and Mike submitted paperwork to alert the adoption program that they were interested in making Scarlet their own.
They were then sent a booklet that included Scarlet's backstory.
"She's had a very rough life," Patty explained. "She's the strongest person I know. I don't know how anybody could go through all that and still be happy. I don't want to go into details of what she went through, but it's not something any kid should ever experience."
Scarlet was once placed in two different pre-adoptive homes, but the families changed their minds about moving forward with a permanent arrangement, according to Patty.
Later, Patty, Mike and Scarlet met at another meet and greet.
"[Scarlet] walked up to us and said, 'My two favorite people,'" Patty said.
“”She's had a very rough life," Patty explained. She's the strongest person I know. I don't know how anybody could go through all that and still be happy. I don't want to go into details of what she went through, but it's not something any kid should ever experience.
It was then determined that Patty and Mike were a match for Scarlet. Scarlet's caseworker emailed the couple with the news writing, "It's a girl!"
And on Nov. 16 at the Grant County Courthouse, Scarlet officially got a family and a new last name.
In total, the teen had spent 4,057 days in foster care.
"Scarlet said, 'I just so hoped you were going to be the ones to adopt me because I really liked you,'" Patty said.
She added, "I told her, 'I wish I could've met you earlier and I wish I could take [the bad times] away,' but all I can do is make it good for her from now on."
Patty hopes Scarlet's story inspires others to be more open to adopting older children.
“”I told her, 'I wish I could've met you earlier and I wish I could take [the bad times
Scarlet told "GMA," "I feel special and I belong here forever. The holidays mean so much more with my forever family."
Children's Bureau, Inc. said that they're thrilled Scarlet and her new family found each other.
"We are so happy that she finally met a family that could see her strengths, too," a rep wrote to "GMA."
"So many teens in the foster care system are waiting for this kind of opportunity. We want families to know that teens in foster care are not scary and it’s not too late for them."
"Their past does not define them; their future will. This fresh start for Scarlet is exactly what we hoped for."