Adoption Day draws a young crowd

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Group Photo: Michael Orlando Clark Jr.’s entire kindergarten class came out to see him adopted on December 5. At right are Kent County Judge Patricia Gardner and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman.

by Cynthia Price
Legal News

Adoption Day at the courts is always touching, but one young man, Michael Orland Clark Jr., made it even more festive by inviting his entire kindergarten class this year.

His teacher, Kerry McKee of Wealthy Elementary, brought a jury-box-ful of darling children to see Michael’s adoption by David Eaton and Andrea Melvin, and the children brought pink and red hearts on a stick to wave in support of Michael.

One result? Over 12 million page views on the Kent County 17th Circuit Court web page, coverage on NBC Nightly News, ABC's World News Tonight, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, CBS, MSN,  and hundreds of other media outlets including local WZZM, and articles in The New York Times (as well as the Post and Daily News), and newspapers from The Palm Beach (Florida) Post to The Seattle Times.

Kent County Adoption Day is an annual celebration of new families started 23 years ago by Judge Patricia Gardner of the 17th Circuit Court’s Family Division, who presided over  the proceedings as Michael – along with 36 others – became part of their own “forever families.”

The Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services began a statewide celebration 16 years ago, mostly held at the end of November, and while National Adoption Day is also in November, Kent County holds it a little later so that Santa can participate.

Michigan Supreme Court Justices try to attend the various adoption day celebrations around the state, and last Thursday’s Kent County event drew Justice Stephen Markman.

Other support organizations involved include Post Adoption Resource Center (PARC), CASA of Kent County, Cops Fore Kids, Grand Rapids Police Department, Hug-A-Bear, the Adoptive Family Support Network (AFSN), and RJ from Kent County Sheriff’s Office, Canine Unit.

Judge Gardner takes each child up with her on the bench and speaks with him or her, and Justice Markman joined in the consultation.

One of the main objectives of Adoption Day is to encourage others to consider adoption, but the 2019 celebration seems to have served another goal in the eyes of the nation.
As the creator of the Kent County website commented, “Perhaps the interest in Michael's story proves that the things that unite us are far more important to us than the things that divide us.”

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