Five-year-old Michael Clark Jr. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, invited his entire class to his adoption hearing. Wearing a blue vest and a maroon bow tie, Michael was so excited to be officially adopted, even more so when all his classmates held up heart-shaped wands in the courtroom to cheer for him.
Michael Clark Jr. Invites Entire Class to His Adoption Hearing
“I understand we are joined by Michael’s kindergarten classroom and teacher,” 17th Circuit Court Family Division Judge Patricia Gardner had said. “Welcome to the courthouse on this amazing day.”
The court proceeding happened just in time for the annual Adoption Day. Kerry McKee, Michael’s teacher, wanted to teach the kids about adoption as the day’s lesson. “The lesson is,” he said, “‘Put a little love in your heart.’”
Wealthy Elementary School principal Carlye Allen favorably considered the child’s invitation. “After thinking about it, there was no way we couldn’t go.”
By the time the final date and time of the hearing were set, the school had about a week to prepare. One parent volunteered to pay for a bus to shuttle the students to and from the courthouse, which was about 20 minutes away.
Thus, the kindergarten class from Wealthy Elementary School, along with school administrators, parents, and even the principal, took a field trip to the Kent County courtroom after their classmate invited them to his adoption hearing. Michael Clark Jr. was so excited to experience a home as a Christmas gift. He squirmed and twirled in his seat while Judge Patricia Gardner asked his class to give testimonials about how much they love him.
One boy testified, “Michael is my best friend.”
Another child stood and declared, “I love Michael.”
Mr. McKee also joined in the testimonies, saying, “We began the school year as a family.Family doesn’t have to be DNA, because family is support and love.”
David Eaton, Michael’s adoptive father, said he started tearing up listening to the children’s testimonials. Eaton said Michael wanted to have his teacher and classmates there because, as the boy explained, “You know, the class is kind of my family.”
When it was finally time for the judge to officiate the adoption by banging the gavel, the youngster got to bring the hammer down alongside his new parents. Michael’s classmates celebrated by bursting into applause and waving their rulers adorned with paper hearts. Not a dry eye was in the courtroom that day. The county’s heartfelt Facebook post had been shared more than 100,000 times the day after.
All in all, 37 children, all from the foster care system, were adopted in Michigan during the annual Adoption Day. Nationwide, more than 125,000 children are waiting to be adopted from foster care.
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