FLINT, MI – Justin Bush beamed as his 5-year-old daughter Leah and 4-year-old son Lamario squirmed in the wooden courtroom chairs before the judge.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, his family had become a little more whole.
“It kind of feels like a dream, I can’t believe I’m really sitting here,” said Bush, the children’s biological uncle and foster parent for three years.
“Remember you told me you’d do anything it takes to get it done?” asked Genesee County Probate Judge Jennie Barkey. “And you did.”
The Bush family was one of three Genesee County families celebrating Adoption Day on Tuesday, Nov. 21, at Genesee Circuit Court where the families finalized the adoptions of five children. It’s the only time of year the public is allowed to see the hearings.
“I potty-trained (Lamario), taught him to walk, bikes, all of that,” said Bush. “It’s been a long time coming.”
“It’s because of you they had a childhood,” Barkey responded before signing the court order to finalize the children’s adoptions. “For years, they’ve been able to wake up and go to sleep with the same face at night … they haven’t had to worry about adult things.”
Families, social services workers and local figures crammed into Barkey’s brightly-decorated courtroom to celebrate the occasion, where Genesee County District Judge Mark Latchana shared his family’s experience with adoption.
“The beautiful part about adoption is that each time, it’s a choice,” Latchana said, fighting back tears as his daughter Eva, now 12, held his hand at the podium. “Today I’m here as a proud parent – not an adopted parent – of an almost teenager, which scares me to death.”
Eva, Latchana explained, was adopted from Guatemala City over ten years ago after a long process of paperwork, applications and waiting.
“June 14, 2005, was our day,” Latchana said. “And like that, our family was born.”
“I can’t say my life would’ve been better or different in Guatemala, but I can say my life in Davison cannot get any better,” Eva said, addressing the soon-to-be adopted children in court. “You get made fun of for (being adopted) sometimes, it’s happened to me. But there are more good things than bad. You will be adopted into a loving family and home, and opportunities at a better life. You’re giving parents a child, and sometimes other children a sibling.”
Other families adopting in Barkey’s court Tuesday included Kimberly and Melinda Roldan, wives who jumped through legal hoops to officially adopt their son Noah, who they’ve fostered for six years.
“This is a breath of fresh air,” Barkey said. “Finally, the laws caught up to what’s going on in your house.”
Meanwhile, Stacy Creed – a Flint mother who has now adopted five children out of foster care – adopted biological sisters Elaysha and Miasia into their “forever family.”
“You know you think about it in the long run, but in the end, nothing matters but your family,” Barkey said.
Currently, in Genesee County there are 539 children in foster care and 41 children available for adoption, according to Barkey.