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During Hillsdale’s first Adoption Day, seven children found new homes and “forever fam­ilies.” Judge Michelle Bianchi presided over the event, reading ref­erence letters vouching for the adoptive fam­ilies, reading obser­va­tions made by case­workers, and allowing people to make state­ments about the adoptive fam­ilies.

Local fam­ilies adopting children on Nov. 28 pose with Judge Michelle Bianchi.
Jacquelyn Eubanks | Col­legian

Local fam­ilies gathered in the Hillsdale County Cour­t­house to finalize adop­tions on Nov. 28. A reception was held afterward at Perennial Park Senior Center to cel­e­brate the newly formed fam­ilies.

When the children’s legal names were changed and the orders of adoption were signed, the courtroom erupted with applause.

“It was very cool that we could do our adoption today,” said Hillsdale res­ident Michelle Michael, who adopted her ninth child — six of whom were also legally adopted.

This is not just a local event. According to Bianchi, November is nationally rec­og­nized as Adoption Month, and Adoption Day in Hillsdale was one of many adoption days across the country.

“It’s important to raise awareness for the needs for foster homes, foster fam­ilies, and forever homes,” she said. “Hope­fully this will bring awareness to this need, and some in foster care will receive per­manent fam­ilies.”

There are cur­rently 13,000 children in foster care in the state of Michigan, and only 1,900 were adopted this school year, said Megan Stiverson, a juvenile court admin­is­trator and expert on child abuse and neglect.

“Adoption Day makes an event that started off tragic into some­thing joyful,” Stiverson said.

Bianchi said there are more than 140 kids in foster care in Hillsdale County alone.

“Many will go home to parents, but when it can’t happen, we need good fam­ilies to step up,” she said.

To become a foster parent, one must become a licensed foster care provider through the court system.

Of the adop­tions that took place, five of the seven children went to unre­lated foster care fam­ilies. The other two were adopted by a step­parent and a rel­ative.

“There is a great need for fam­ilies to come forward and adopt,” said Jacque Marry, a case­worker for Fos­tering Solu­tions, an adoption agency in Adrian. She wit­nessed her 100th adoption on Tuesday.

Bianchi said she is looking forward to making Adoption Day an annual event.

“I’m over­joyed by the tremendous outcome,” Bianchi said.