Five children officially join their forever families as part of Adoption Day at Berrien County Courthouse

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. – A day at the courthouse does not always have positive associations—but for some of the families there today—it was set to be a heartwarming day they would never forget.

“Adoption day is truly the most special day here in the family court,” said Judge Brian S. Berger, Presiding Judge of the Family Division at the Berrien County Courthouse.

For five families—it’s the day they welcomed an adoptive child into their new forever family, to help celebrate Adoption Month in November.

For those who work in the courthouse, it’s a milestone they always look forward to.

“It’s days like this that keep us going,” said Marikaye Long, a family attorney with the courthouse.

But for one court appointed special advocate, it was a day four years in the making.

“I walked into a building thinking it was an antique shop and it obviously wasn’t,” remembered Sarah Rimple. “So the woman there approached me, I began speaking with her, and she told me about a program called CASA, which stands for court-appointed special advocate, for children in foster care.”

Shortly after starting her work as an advocate for foster kids, that’s when Rimple decided she wanted to become a foster parent—and just two weeks after she was approved—that’s when she met Mason, a young boy with special needs.

“Mason and I were meant for each other,” Rimple told the packed courtroom, filled with family and friends.

“We do life together. We get through life’s challenging moments together. And believe me, there are a lot of those!” laughed Rimple. “But we also get through life’s triumphs together.”

She said that she and Mason couldn’t be more excited about being together.

“He completely, one-hundred percent understands what’s going on today,” she said. “He gets it. Just a couple days ago he said, ‘Mommy’s going to adopt me on Monday,’ and I said ‘yes! He gets it!’ So he is very excited, we are very excited to spend our beginning of forever together.”

But Adoption Day is not just to celebrate the joy for these families; it’s also a reminder of the need for foster and adoptive parents in Michigan.

According to Michigan Supreme Court Justice David Vivano—visiting from Lansing to oversee the adoptions—there are over 10,000 children in the foster care system, and around 250 looking for a forever home.

“Foster parents are so needed, especially after the last couple years that we’ve had,” said Holly Bream, the Adoption Specialist at the courthouse. “They’re so needed in our community and the adoptive families are needed as well.”

Bream advised that interested parents reach out to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services—as well as private agencies—to look into becoming a licensed foster parent, and to visit the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange home page to see the children still looking for a home.

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