By Frank Weir
This year's Jackson County Adoption Day, held last Friday, was the most successful ever, in terms of participation according to the county's Adoption Coordinator Terralyn Brown.
The event, held in courts around the state and nation more typically on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, is designed to call attention to all the children in foster care who need a home, court officials said.
"We had 10 children adopted and 199 guests, including the media, agency workers, and staff at this year's Adoption day," Brown said. "That is the largest number of guests that we have had since Jackson started to participate in the day, back in 2004. And I think it was the most media attention that we ever received at one time as well."
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman joined Jackson County Probate Judge Diane Rappleye during the morning proceedings. Jackson's newest judge, Richard LaFlamme, oversaw the afternoon adoptions.
Also in attendance was William Johnson, superintendent of the Michigan Children's Institute, a division of the state's Department of Human Services, Children's Services Administration.
Justice Markman thanked the participating parents in agreeing to have their adoptions opened to the public during the special event.
"We use this day to call attention to the adoption process and we do that with the consent of the adopting parents here today," Markman said.
"By doing so, you are helping us communicate that adoption is important. There are 19,000 to 20,000 children in foster care who would love to have a family and a home. Myself and my colleagues on the Court consider adoption to be an absolutely critical process and we want to see as many adoptions of children in foster care as possible."
He said that thanks to participating parents, "this is the most inspiring thing I get to do."
Markman added that the success of Adoption Day will be measured at the next annual event in 2012 when he hoped "there will be even more children being adopted."
The first adoption of the day for Markman and Judge Rappleye was seven-year-old Diego Christian Presley, adopted by Tammy Christian and Joey Lynn Presley.
The couple, and now Diego, are from Grass Lake and a tearful Tammy thanked the court and caseworker Desiree Hughes of Lutheran Adoption Services, after final approval.
"We couldn't picture our lives without him," Tammy said to the court.
Judge Rappleye added that the family had "come a long way. Thanks to the both of you, Diego will have the kind of life that all children are entitled to."
About the success of the day, Brown said, "As our Michigan Adoption Day began to unfold, it was very clear that we had a wonderful support system including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman, Probate Judge Diane Rappleye, and Circuit Judge Richard LaFlamme, along with the media, agencies, volunteers, staff, and most importantly, the adoptive families.
"I cannot thank them enough for their time and energy. It takes a community to advocate for families, and my community stood up to the plate," she said.
Brown offered special thanks to a number of volunteers who made the day extra special including Charisse Craw as Cookie the Clown; Lucia Fundaro as Lu-C-Lu, balloon shaper; Dodi Wheeler, Crazebake cakes and cupcakes; Dr. David Woltmann, photographer; and The Balloony Bin.
Donations for gift bags and other refreshments came from the Department of Human Services and Jackson County Family Court.
Published: Thu, Nov 24, 2011