GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.- Over two dozen children were officially welcomed into new homes, Thursday. The Kent County Circuit Court celebrated it’s 16th annual Adoption Day in Downtown Grand Rapids. The occasion, which is traditionally recognized in Michigan during National Adoption Month in November, is a way to spread the word about the opportunities of fostering children.
While it is not unusual to see tears in a courtroom, these tears had a special meaning for the Mason family.
“You will now be called Cassie Jo Mason,” said Judge Daniel Zemaitis.
Never has the sound of a name brought smiles and tears of joy to so many people. Family applauded as 14 year old Cassie Jo Mason heard her new name, made official by Judge Zemaitis during her adoption hearing, Thursday.
“We’ve bonded just with the needs that she has and the connection between mother and daughter,” said Cindy Mason. Cassie’s adoptive mother. “The connection is just there.”
Cassie came to live with Cindy and Mike Mason back in 2009, but the road to adopt Cassie has been a year and a half in the making. She has spina bifida and is confined to a wheel chair. The Mason’s, who already have four biological children and are fostering two more, wanted to make sure their house was handicapped accessible.
“Just a lot of modifications to her bedroom to get everything prepared,” said Mason. With her having some special needs, we had a bathroom put in to make it more accessible for her.”
Cassie sat with her parents while Judge Zemaitis briefed the teen on her rights. Then, it was time for Cassie to sign the papers.
The adoption hearings are a special time for families and judges, made even more meaningful during the holidays.
“I’m just happy it’s done,” said Cassie, as she fought back tears and clutched her new teddy bear, given to her by the judge. The adoption process is an emotional one for everyone involved.
“The last family she had in the legal sense has come to a close and this family has come to an open point,” said Ashley Oosterbaan, with Lutheran Adoption Service. “There’s a lot of transition and a lot of emotion that goes into that.”
There will be a slight adjustment period, but the Mason’s are looking forward to spending Christmas together as an official family.