It was a day that seven children will never forget.
On Tuesday morning inside the Board of Commissioners Auditorium in Pontiac, 1200 N. Telegraph Road, the adoptions of those seven children were finalized by four families on the 15th Annual Michigan Adoption Day.
Breanna, Brooklyn, Daniel, Clara, Aliana, George and Christopher were all smiles on Tuesday as their forever parents reached the finish line and finalized their adoptions with the circuit courts family division judges.
Each year, more than 30 courthouses around the state celebrate Michigan Adoption Month by holding finalization ceremonies on Nov. 21 to celebrate the theme of Giving Thanks for Families.
As of Monday, 254 adoptions have been finalized in Oakland County during 2017. There are nearly 800 foster care children in the county and 13,000 statewide.
PHOTO GALLERY: Check out some photos from the adoption day ceremony
Shelby Township residents Joel and Megan Scott celebrated the adoption of their daughter Breanna Hope Scott.
Its a special time to come together with our friends and family, said Joel Scott. We chose Breanna and we are very blessed.
Scott said Breanna, 14, was a unique story in that she was in foster care beginning at six years old.
She was with us for most of that time, said Scott. Now we get to adopt her and be family. Breanna is really excited. Shes calling it her gotcha day.
While Breanna was able to find a loving home, there are many children throughout Oakland County and across Michigan that are still waiting for their forever family.
Three of the seven children were adopted by their grandparents while the others were foster care adoptions. 42 percent of all adoptions finalized in the county from 2012 through 2016 were foster care adoptions while just 6.5 percent were relative adoptions.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there are 795 foster care children in Oakland County compared to 868 this time last year.
Erin OBrien, chief of adoption and juvenile services for the Oakland County Circuit Court, said the number of county children adopted over the past five years has been steady.
We finalize a significant number of cases in December of each year, said OBrien.
2017 Oakland County adoptions
Foster care adoptions: 124 of 132 filed have been finalized
Step-parent adoptions: 58 of 73 filed have been finalized
Relative adoptions: 22 of 24 filed have been finalized
Direct placement adoptions: 26 of 29 filed have been finalized
Adult adoptions: 24 of 29 filed have been finalized
2012-2017 Oakland County adoptions
2017 (through Nov. 20): 254
Oakland County foster care children
October 2015: 838
October 2016: 868
October 2017: 795
For Lisa Gorcyca, the presiding judge of the county circuit court family division, said adoption day shows what a wonderful team the county has to promote and encourage adoption.
This is our favorite day of every week, of every month and of every year, said Gorcyca. Its great to see the joy and love in the making of a forever family. Its a dream come true.
Those dreams of adoption came true for Daniel, Clara and Aliana Russell as their grandparents, Ricardo and Clara, finalized their adoptions.
Oak Park resident Ricardo Russell said he felt both excited and relieved after working for a year to adopt these children.
It has been a bumpy road but its going to be worth it, said Ricardo Russell.
For the Bendixen Family, its been a long process to be able to adopt Brooklyn, who was in foster care for 660 days. Jeriah Bendixen said he didnt know how long the adoption process was going to take.
Its just amazing now that its happening, said Jeriah Bendixen. We just cant express how grateful we are for the help weve received from the foster care agency and foster care services.
For Madison Heights residents Nathaniel and Keely Figueroa, adopting Christopher and George was a special moment.
Weve been foster care parents for these two boys for a little over two years, said Nathaniel Figueroa. It nice to bring some finalization to the process and we are just looking forward to moving forward as a family.
Nanci Grant, chief judge of the countys circuit court, said she loves her job but that it can be very difficult. Its days like adoption day that brings a smile to her face.
We see the good in people, said Grant. We see the goodness that is still in this world. These are the outstanding things that can happen and it gives you hope. Its refreshing.
Anyone interested in adopting from foster care can contact the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange at (800)-589-6273.
You can also see biographies and photos of children available for adoption on the exchanges website, www.mare.org.
For more general information about adoptions in Michigan, visit michigan.gov/adopton.
Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Department, said all children should have a permanent home to call their own.
We appreciate the love and stability provided by our adoptive families and hope that more Michiganders will open their hearts to adoption, said Lyon.
MICHIGAN ADOPTION WEBSITE: michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-73971_7116—,00.html
Oakland County adoption website: oakgov.com/courts/circuit/Pages/division_committee/adoption-services.aspx
2016 ADOPTION DAY: Nine families celebrate 13 adoptions
BUDGET TALK: Oakland County court officials talk budget challenges during hearings
NEW JUDGE: Oakland County Circuit Court adding judge in 2019 due to workload increases