Courtrooms don't usually feature laughing children, beaming parents, Teddy bears, or balloons, but on Tuesday, state officials say happy families will be seen celebrating in many Michigan courtrooms, along with judges, court staff, and social workers.
In what is now a holiday tradition for many Michigan family courts, Michigan Adoption Day will be celebrated on Nov. 26.
Officials said the event is held on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving each year, highlighting the importance of adoption and the needs of children in foster care.
Thirty Michigan counties will participate, finalizing the adoptions of about 80 children. While many courts observe Michigan Adoption Day by finalizing adoptions, organizers said others will hold informational events to reach potential adoptive parents.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. will join judges Gregory P. Iddings from Lenawee and Dorene S. Allen from Midland in finalizing adoptions in the Supreme Court courtroom in the Hall of Justice in Lansing.
The ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m., will include the presentation of the Daniel J. Wright Lifetime Achievement Award. Organizers of the event said Allen is this year's recipient of the award, which recognizes outstanding service to Michigan children and families.
Young said that Michigan Adoption Day provides a valuable window into the adoption process.
"Adoption finalization hearings are usually private," the chief justice explained. "But on Adoption Day, the participating courts open these hearings to the public. We are allowed to witness the joy of the adoptive families, and to hear their stories. We hope the experience inspires others to consider adoption and will call attention to the needs of the young people who remain in foster care."
Michigan Adoption Day is co-sponsored by the Michigan Supreme Court, the Michigan Department of Human Services, and the Child Welfare Services division of the State Court Administrative Office, officials said.
"Every child deserves a safe, loving and stable home," former justice and current DHS Director Maura D. Corrigan said. "Our department has undertaken significant reforms, doing our part to make that happen. Because of our efforts and those of our partners, we finalized 88 percent of the adoptions for eligible children in Michigan last year. It's the highest rate in nearly 20 years, helping more children leave Michigan's foster care system for permanent homes."
Anyone interested in adopting a child may contact MARE at P.O. Box 980789, Ypsilanti, MI 48197. MARE can also be reached Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 800-589-6273 (in Michigan), via fax at 734-528-1695, or through the MARE web site.
For more information about Michigan Adoption Day, including local events, click here.