WAYLAND, Mich.- Hundreds of foster youth in West Michigan are looking for forever families to call their own.
The efforts being made to connect these kids with a family are something we've been featuring on FOX 17 for months now.
We've had many questions from viewers about the adoption process and where to begin, so we sat down with a local adoptive family to learn more about adoption through the Michigan Foster System.
“It’s almost like nine months, almost like having a regular baby and it’s almost like having that period of time,” Randy Smith of Wayland said.
He and his wife Cheryl, parents of three children already, began their search for an adoptive child in February 2013, working through the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange and D.A. Blodgett.
“They really did a lot to prepare us and answered a lot of questions we didn’t have at the time," Cheryl said. "Since we’ve had Alex we’re like, 'Oh, I remember when they talked about that,'” Cheryl said.
The Smiths searched for the right child, taking classes and completing a home study that required months of work.
They say it felt like a really long process, but as they got to the end they knew they really needed that much time.
The Smiths thought they would adopt a child with Down syndrome, because that’s what they knew. They already have a son with the disorder.
That’s when they met Alex, who at the time was 13 years old and had been in the foster system for more than four years.
“It was just like, 'This is it, this is our kid, we`re done looking,'” Cheryl said.
From that point forward, the Smiths knew they had found the missing piece of their family. Now, it was just a matter of logistics, like fingerprints, a physical, and other odds and ends to make Alex officially a Smith.
His first night with the Smiths was Christmas Eve 2013.
“Christmas morning, he got to wake up in matching pajama pants," Cheryl said. "From our 23-year-old to our 22-year-old to our new 13-year-old, everybody had matching pajama pants for Christmas morning."
Alex says his new family is a dream come true, and he’s excited he doesn’t have to wait any longer.
The Smiths dispell the perception that adoption is expensive. Adopting any child through the Michigan Foster System comes at absolutely no cost.
“We haven`t spent a dime," Randy said, "and we’re close to people that spend thousands of dollars for overseas adoption, and that has its place. But there’s lots of kids here, and they don`t require money. They require work, and time, and grace."
The Smiths say their home isn’t big, and their family isn`t perfect, because families who adopt come in all shapes and sizes.
The Smiths credit D.A. Blodgett with for helping them find Alex as a perfect fit as they prepare for the adoption, to be completed this month.
The family’s only complaint is that they didn`t find each other sooner.
“There`s hope for every family," said Alex. "All you have to do is just wait.