MARSHALL – Facing the judge Tuesday was the last stop for 10-year-old Lyric Garman.
“He has been in 18 different homes,” said Jym Garman of Battle Creek, the boy’s father for about 15 minutes. “Through the whole process he thought I was going to give up. I said no. You are in it for life.”
Lyric Garman was one of six children adopted by four families during Calhoun County’s edition of Michigan Adoption Day.
“They chose each other and it is the best present any of them could have for the holidays to make it official,” Circuit Judge Tina Yost Johnson said about the children and their new parents.
The public adoptions are held by courts across the state to promote foster care and adoptions.
“Too often judges see the unhappy side of family strife,” said Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Brock Schwartzle, formerly of Athens, who also attended. “It is truly an honor to participate in the happiest side of family life, the creation of new families and the addition to existing ones. I hope this is the first of many happy Thanksgivings.”
Kristen Sausser, an adoptive parent of three, told the group, “I can’t distinguish the difference between an adoptive mom — and mom. There are children who need families and children who need homes.”
She also challenged people who have said her children are lucky to be adopted. Instead she explained that the kids come from homes suffering from trauma, being addicted at birth to drugs and alcohol and from homes of domestic violence.
“Their whole life was so messed up that they had to be removed from their biological family,” she said. “There was chaos in their home but there is love here.”
She tells her children they have value, dignity and they are loved.
“It’s not my children who are lucky,” Sausser said. “It is my husband and I.”
A single parent, Jym Garman said he adopted a son four years ago who is now 12 and “he was lonely and wanted another brother. We have room for one more and we started the process. We found a son who came to us and we couldn’t let go. And he has been a joy every since.”
Garman said his newest son has given him challenges after being moved among so many foster homes.
“He would test me on a lot of things to see if I would send him back. It never happened, I said, ‘no, you are a keeper.’
“Rejected like that decimated him that no one loves him and he just thinks this is the next stop; the next house I go to now. He has come a long way and he has a long road ahead but he is going to be great.”
Lyric wasn’t excited about the stuffed Teddy Bear given to each child and held back a smile for group pictures but he told a reporter how he felt about the adoption and his new, permanent family.
“They are nice,” he said. “They love me a lot and they are very caring for me and they are the best family I could ever have.”
Seventeen-month-old Lia Smith was born addicted to opioids, said her new father, Richard Smith of Battle Creek.
He and his wife, Naydena have two other foster children who came to the adoption ceremony. They explained that they take the children but don’t know if they will stay or go back to their biological parents.
“The complications are she was born addicted to opioids,” Richard Smith said. “And you are investing all your love into these children and you have no control how the case progresses. It is on the biological parents and you are rooting against the parents.”
Those weren’t insurmountable problems, the couple said.
“For us it was to add to our beautiful little family,” Naydena Smith said. “You are taking a risk that you can’t adopt them but you give them a good home while they are with you. It is very rewarding in the end because we can give them a good home.
“Today means a lot because she is a permanent part of our family and no one can take her away.”
She said the couple hopes to adopt their two other foster children.
“Our goal is to have three children,” Naydena Smith said. “And possibly more.”
Contact Trace Christenson at 269-966-0685 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @TSChristenson
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