ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - A 5-year-old girl who has been the focus of a custody battle between her adoptive parents and her biological father will stay with her adoptive parents.
The South Carolina Supreme Court reinstated the adoption of Braelynn Dalsing Wednesday.
Tammy and Edward Dalsing started fostering Braelynn when she was three-weeks-old. More than two years ago, Braelynn was adopted by the Dalsings after the child's biological mother gave up her parental rights. At the time, Braelynn's father, Andrew Myers, was serving time in prison for fraud. His rights were terminated originally because a judge didn't find sufficient evidence that he tried to support his child.
A month after Myers' release, a South Carolina Court of Appeals overturned Braelynn's adoption, saying Myers' rights should have never been terminated.
Braelynn continued to live with the Dalsings as they anxiously requested a re-hearing. In February 2017, the Court of Appeals denied that request and issued a more detailed opinion which offered more insight into why they believe Myers did attempt to be a part of Braelynn's life while he was incarcerated.
There's no denying Braelynn thinks Tammy and Edward are her mom and dad. She's never met Myers and has spent a limited amount of time visiting his mother.
"Why now? Why pull her out of where she is? She's happy. She's healthy - and he can be a part of that," Tammy said last year.
The couple took their fight to the South Carolina Supreme Court. They said they would exhaust every effort to keep their little girl with them and their other children she calls her brothers and sisters.
It's possible, but unlikely, that the case will go to the US Supreme Court.
The Dalsings did not know the decision was going to be made Wednesday, but they check each week to see if the order has been issued. Edward said he checked in the morning and once that afternoon. He said he barely saw it.
"I was shaking as I read it," Edward said. "I thought 'I got to make sure this is right, but I think we won'."
Tammy Dalsings says her family was thrilled. Braelynn is turning five in five days and was not aware that she could have been removed from the home she has grown up in.
"We're all excited and she was looking around like 'whose birthday is it'," Tammy said. "She had no idea."
The Dalsings also adopted Braelynn's half-sister. They say the girls' biological mother was happy to hear her daughters would be growing up together.
Now, the Dalsings are hoping their long battle will help other foster children find homes in South Carolina.
"Any South Carolina citizen should be able to adopt, but foster parents were kind of blocked," Tammy said. "There was a wall there. We still matter, we still count too. We are not robots, we are human beings."
WBTV reached out to Braelynn's biological family's attorney, but have not heard back.