HARRISON –Adoption Day in family courts across the state and nation is a truly special day. It is perhaps the one day in any given year when, instead of being filled with people facing difficulties, family court is filled with only happy people. That’s how it was Dec. 9 in the Clare County Building, when two committed parents ought to make their family larger by three children – permanent in the eyes of the law – forever in their hearts.
Adoption Day nationally and in Michigan this year was officially Nov. 23, and Clare County Family Court has traditionally sought to have the day’s adoptions finalized prior to Thanksgiving, so that the newly formed families would be able to celebrate and participate in that holiday as a family. However, with the high number of cases on the probate docket, this year’s Adoption Day proceedings were delayed into December.
The many family members waiting in the hallway outside the Family Courtroom didn’t seem to mind the delay, they simply appeared eager to get their family officially united under the law.
As it turned out, there was only one family participating this year, but their sizeable hallway numbers included roughly half of their children. Steve and Alana Hulwick are an out-of-area couple who have been caring for and about children for a long, long time: 25 years. Their youngest now is 8 years old and the oldest is 27, with their four adult children now out of the house. Their commitment to loving and supporting children had already included three biological children, four adopted children, one guardianship, and three foster children. Three of those fosters, who are biological siblings, were in the courthouse Dec. 9 to become official, permanent members of the Hulwick family.
Judge Marcy Klaus took each parent through the steps of describing the children’s characteristics and personality traits, as well as their strong points and anything else the parents might care to share. They noted that Alantae, the oldest, is a straight “A” student and fine athlete, very likeable and loveable, and that he seems to manage well the fact that he’s the only male child in a house full of sisters. Rose, second oldest, was initially a bit quiet, but once comfortable was able to speak up for herself and engage confidently with her family and friends. Ella was the youngest, was described as spunky, opinionated and fun, and in need of no prompting to show her no-nonsense, direct “Here’s what’s what” informative side.
When the judge asked Alana Hulwick, given her 25 years of experience, what advice she might impart to other prospective parents, she was succinct.
“You just go with the flow,” she said. “It just seems like the more the merrier, because when there’s less there’s more chaos in the house. It seems to flow better when certain ones go with certain ones.”
Steve Hulwick affirmed his wife’s answer, adding that “I just enjoy having them around, like she said. If you have some, you might as well have more and give what we can give. Whether you have one or you have a dozen, life still happens – just don’t miss those moments. Don’t lose it, move forward.”
The judge also heard from the caseworkers who had been guiding/supporting the family to this point. The reports from each to the judge were exceedingly positive and sometimes emotionally charged with the joy of seeing deserving children find their forever, loving home. All concluded that the family and children were well-suited and stated they believed the future promised many good things for this family.
After the judge had read through the required legal steps which had been met to arrive at this special day, each of the children was encouraged to conclude their own proceedings by banging the judge’s gavel. As Judge Klaus read out the steps and procedures which completed the legally required steps to fulfill their adoption, it was apparent that each knew it meant truly becoming a forever part of the family where they had come to know supportive love and a sense of safety.
Klaus gave each one a teddy bear to commemorate the occasion, and the smiles couldn’t be broader as each child posed for a close-up with the new cuddly friend.
After the official courtroom event, the family and their current case worker moved over to the District Court jury room to enjoy a holiday-themed treats buffet, as well as some congratulatory gifts. The gifts of Fit Bit trackers were well-received, as the older family members were already seriously engaged in step tracking.
Lots of familial conversation recalled other adoption memories, then moved into getting the family Christmas tree. That conversation was then punctuated by one particularly cute inquiry when a small voice asked Judge Klaus if she was married to Santa.
It wasn’t long before the presents were put into service, treats were consumed, and a minor carpet spill was dismissed as part of a normal day’s work. Sounds like a typical family event, doesn’t it? Mission accomplished.
For adoption information, visit the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange at www.MARE.org or call 800-589-6273.
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