State high court, trial courts host Adoption Day ceremonies

The Michigan Supreme Court (MSC) last week on November 23 continued its yearly tradition of promoting the need for adoptions in Michigan just before Thanksgiving by remotely hosting its own 19th Annual Adoption Day program and by helping trial courts across the state celebrate the special day with virtual and in-person adoption proceedings. Justice Elizabeth T. Clement and Justice Megan K. Cavanagh, MSC co-liaisons on child welfare matters, virtually welcomed state leaders, stakeholders, and adoptive families to share in the celebration under the timely theme of “Giving Thanks for Families.”

“Adoption Day is the happiest day of the year at the Court,” said Clement. “While we celebrate and thank every parent for adopting children during this holiday season, we also wish for a forever family for the children who are still waiting.”

Clement also announced other Adoption Day celebrations being attended by colleagues Justice Brian K. Zahra (Livingston County) and Justice Elizabeth M. Welch (Berrien County). Cavanagh also attended Oakland County’s celebration.

Cavanagh echoed the “Giving Thanks” theme by expressing gratitude to the Supreme Court’s annual Adoption Day partners, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE).

“We couldn’t make Adoption Day happen without these wonderful partners, which are dedicated to helping children throughout Michigan find loving homes all year round, not just around the holidays,” said Cavanagh.

MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel and MDHHS Children’s Services Agency Executive Director Demetrius Starling spotlighted the great statewide need for adoptive parents, as more than 11,000 children remain in foster care in Michigan, and encouraged more people to consider opening their homes and their hearts to a child in need.

Continuing the MSC Adoption Day tradition of honoring child welfare champions, Chief Judge Allie Greenleaf Maldonado, of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Tribal Court, presented the 2021 Daniel J. Wright Lifetime Achievement Award to Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court Judge Timothy P. Connors. Connors, who has applied the Native American concept of peacemaking when handling child welfare matters in court, was honored for his exceptional service to Michigan’s children.

Former Chief Justice Maura D. Corrigan, also the former MDHHS director, presented the 2021 Maura D. Corrigan Foster Family Lifetime Achievement Award given annually in her name to Hillsdale foster parents Mark and Debbie Berlin. For more than 36 years, the Berlins have dedicated their lives to fostering medically fragile children and individuals of all ages who have significant mental health or developmental needs. The Michigan Supreme Court celebrated the Berlin family’s inspiring legacy in hopes that families across Michigan will strive to emulate it.

The special event concluded with a moving video produced by MARE, called “Heart Gallery 2021 - Through Their Eyes,” which showcases children sharing their stories in hopes of finding loving homes, as well as those who have found forever families.

A video recording of the entire Adoption Day 2021 program—including the MARE video at the end—is available for viewing on the MSC YouTube page at www.youtube.com/user/MichiganCourts.


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