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Pontiac

Scores of Michigan families will have much to be grateful for Thanksgiving Day after finalizing the adoptions of about 100 children Tuesday during Michigan’s 12th annual Adoption Day.

It was the second Adoption Day attended by Kyle and Kelli Rodenbo of Holly, who adopted 9-month-old Kaden at the Oakland County Courthouse. Six families adopted nine children during the brief ceremony in Pontiac, celebrating afterward at a party hosted by the court.

“He’s so happy and he’s huge — he weighs 25 pounds,” said Kelli Rodenbo, who came with a retinue of grandparents and other relatives. The courthouse auditorium was festooned with bright-colored helium balloons and posters about adoption, and more than 200 attendees were eager to see families officially grow with the approval of several Oakland Circuit Court judges.

“We brought him home from the hospital when he was 3 days old. We adopted his older brother, Kobe, last year on Adoption Day,” Rodenbo said.

Celebrated the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Adoption Day has become a Michigan tradition. Some courts in the state hosted informational events highlighting the importance of adoption and the needs of children in foster care.

Adoption Day is co-sponsored by the Michigan Supreme Court, the Michigan Department of Human Services, the Child Welfare Services division of the State Court Administrative Office and Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange.

Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan was surprised during Adoption Day ceremonies at the Michigan Supreme Court when she was awarded the Daniel J. Wright Lifetime Achievement Award.

Two longtime court workers specializing in guardianship and child matters were also honored in awards named after former Oakland County judges. Susan Hull received the Arthur Eugene Moore Champion of Children Award and William Lansat was given the Sandra Silver Advocate for Children Award.

There were no shortages of camera flashes and tears as six families took turns before different judges and adopted a total of nine children.

“This is our favorite day ... every child deserves a safe, loving home,” said Judge Lisa Gorcyca, before April DeBoer came before her on a petition to adopt Rylee JoAnne DeBoer-Rowse.

DeBoer and several other families were there on their second, third, even fourth adoptions.

“I know this isn’t your first rodeo,” Gorcyca cracked as DeBoer and her partner, Jayne Rowse, came before them with several children they have welcomed into their home.

DeBoer and Rowse are challenging the state’s voter-approved constitutional bans on gay marriage and gay couples legally adopting each other’s children. The case was recently appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court after the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld the state’s ban. Gays and lesbians are allowed as individuals to adopt children.

The adoptions, normally private affairs, took a few minutes each with judges asking the families if they understood their legal responsibility to provide food, clothing, shelter and education, as well as the health and spiritual needs of the children.

“And lots of shoes,” Judge Cheryl Matthews noted to Lolita and Andre Siner, adopting their fourth child.

Gorcyca, like other judges, thanked all the adopting parents for “helping to make our community a better place.”

One guest speaker, state Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra, looked around the jammed auditorium and observed how “courtrooms don’t normally feature happy, laughing children; beaming parents; and teddy bears and balloons.”

“I hope this marks the first of several happy Thanksgivings for these families,” Zahra said.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319

Adoption in Michigan

As of Sept. 30, there are about 12,800 children in Michigan’s foster care system.

Among children in foster care, about 2,500 children are eligible for adoption because their parents’ rights have been terminated.

More than 2,160 children were adopted in Michigan between Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30.

About 90 percent of children who are available for adoption qualify for assistance to help families with some costs of bringing children into their homes.

More than 27,000 adopted children receive ongoing support subsidies.

Source: Michigan Department of Human Services

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