It was a win-win for an entire kindergarten class — not only did they get to skip out on class, they also got to see one of their own become a permanent part of his new family.
Michael Clark Jr.’s classmates were in the courtroom showing support for him on an annual Adoption Day in Kent County, Michigan. They held paper hearts in their hands as young Michael was sitting at a table in front of a judge … an event that can be quite scary, especially for children.
He was legally adopted on Dec. 5 by his parents, Andrea Melvin and Dave Eaton. There were 36 other children adopted during the adoption day at the Kent County courthouse during a finalization hearing that lasted about 30 minutes for each family.
The county shared a photo of Michael with his new parents on Facebook, showing his schoolmates behind him.
He looks so relaxed! That’s a sign he is very comfortable with those surrounding him.
It’s not easy to get a class full of kindergartners anywhere together, especially into a courtroom! Kudos to those teachers and the school for allowing the children to witness this important event in Michael’s life.
Michael’s adoption day story has been seen by more than 12 million people on Facebook. He has been featured on several major television news shows, too.
“Perhaps the interest in Michael’s story proves that the things that unite us are far more important to us than the things that divide us,” reads a post on the Kent County Facebook page. “We learned this lesson from a five-year-old who never endeavored to teach. He simply let us witness love, effortlessly,” says the post.
Michael’s story has put a brighter spotlight on adoption and the foster care system, which in 2018 served 437,283 children, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Last year, 125,422 kids were waiting for families to adopt them. The 2018 Children’s Bureau report says that more than 63,000 adoptions happened in 2018 with public agency involvement, but that number does not reflect many private adoptions and other discharges from the foster system to adoption situations.
While there is no single source that covers all adoption statistics, ChildWelfare.gov said in a report (published in 2016) that nearly 120,000 children were adopted in 2012. The unfortunate news is that adoption rates appear to be declining — there was a 14% decrease that year and the downward trend was a continuation from 2001 figures.
Adoption has often been a hot topic in Hollywood because of its potential both for conflict and for heartwarming moments like Michael’s. Films such as 2018’s “Instant Family” starring Mark Wahlberg and the 2014 “Annie” remake that stars actor Jamie Foxx tackle it more overtly, but adoption themes show up in many other films, such as Disney’s “Lilo & Stitch,” “Despicable Me” and “Les Miserables.”
Maybe Michael’s story will inspire folks to consider adoption and help give loving homes to children who don’t have one. We hope this is the case!
This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for additional stories.