Adoption Day highlights need for foster families
Published 9:27 am Monday, November 30, 2015
The usual somber atmosphere contained with the Cass County Circuit Courtroom in Cassopolis was absent last week Tuesday — replaced by one of happiness, enthusiasm and, above all, hope.
When Cass County celebrated the 13th annual Michigan Adoption Day last Tuesday, six local children were officially adopted by foster families during the ceremony, which was again presided over by Cass County Probate Judge Susan Dobrich.
Cass was one of more than 30 counties to host festivities on Adoption Day, which is celebrated in Michigan every year on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The event, which opens the normally private formal adoption ceremony to the public, is designed to raise awareness to the plight of foster children and to encourage families to consider adopting one of these young residents into their own household.
Despite the joy surrounding Tuesday’s adoption ceremonies across Michigan, the message of encouraging other families to step up to the plate themselves also gives the event a bittersweet note. However, it’s a message that is also necessary, given the situation here in the state.
According to the Michigan Supreme Court, a co-sponsor of Michigan Adoption Day, there were around 13,000 children in Michigan’s foster care system as of Sept. 30. Of those children, 2,400 had their parents’ rights terminated and have the goal of adoption.
Just here in Cass County, there are around 160 foster children seeking their “forever family” — and the sense of stability and permanency that comes with it.
Cass County has been a forerunner in terms of providing for the children in its foster care system. Under the leadership of Judge Dobrich, the county was among the first in Michigan to establish a CASA organization, which allows volunteers to serve as court-appointed advocates for local foster children. The county family court also regularly provides extra goods and services for these kids through its Foster Child Enrichment Project, which received a $20,000 from the United Way in the summer.
However, no amount of support from the county could replace the care and influence of a family, of parents, of siblings, in these children’s lives. And those are things only a strong foster family can provide.
While a major decision for any family to decide, the state offers some assistance to help parents adjust to this dramatic change. According to the supreme court, Michigan pays around $240 million in assistance adoptive families, and also subsidizes preexisting medical or metal health issues for adopted foster children. Michigan also has eight Post Adoption Resource Centers, which offer education, training and other services to families and their adopted children.
We encourage our readers with the means to adopt or serve as a foster family to at least consider the possibility. It’s the most powerful thing you could do to change the life a foster child — to give them a place they can finally call home.
Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.