Farmington Hills, Mich. —November 12, 2020 —November is National Adoption Awareness Month and the Michigan Supreme Court and family courts, as well as various public and private agencies around the state will help celebrate the families who have been created through foster care and adoption. The culmination of the month’s activities is Michigan Adoption Day, Tuesday, November 24, 2020, a statewide celebration of foster children uniting with their “forever families.” Judson Center, a multi-county human service agency and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) has been providing adoption services since it was founded in 1924 and will join in the festivities, albeit differently this year.
“This year’s adoption celebrations will look somewhat different due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with many adoption finalization hearings and celebrations taking place virtually,” Michelle Carlton Program Manager for Adoption and Foster Care at Judson Center, said.
One family eagerly awaiting Adoption Day is Michelle and Christopher Link, who raised six of their own children. Michelle Link has served in the military for more than 30 years, and two of the Link’s adult children serve as well. Still, she determined her family’s military service wasn’t the end, they could continue to make a contribution in other ways.
“My family has made sacrifices for over three decades of military service, but after several years of deliberation we decided it wasn’t enough. We were compelled to consider adoption from foster care; we felt that making a difference in the life of a child in foster care would leave a more lasting impact than all the years of dedicated service,” Michelle Link said.
Michelle and her husband Christopher Link became licensed foster parents and an approved adoptive family through Judson Center in 2019. The family was matched with two brothers in April 2019. In February 2020, Aidan and Tristen moved in with the Links. The family experienced an especially difficult transition due to Covid-19. Michelle Link said, “Everything changed. Schools closed, playgrounds were barricaded, we were quarantined, and we worked from home while trying to homeschool the boys. We were immersed with them for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; those were among the most difficult days of our adoption journey.”
Although the pandemic created unique challenges, the family was able to quickly assess needed resources and support for the boys and worked hard to overcome those challenges over the ensuing months. And they have grown stronger in the process.
“On the bleakest of days, we were sustained by the quiet moments and the small victories. Moments such as after a meltdown when Aidan would lean into me and tell me he loved me so much he could explode. Moments when the boys felt safe enough to tell us about the difficult parts of their stories,” Michelle Link said.
On November 24, after 1,407 days in foster care, Aidan and Tristen will finally be adopted.
“National Adoption Month is a time to spread awareness about the great need for loving adoptive families. There are approximately 13,000 youth in foster care in Michigan at any given time. Of those 13,000 children, approximately 300 youth are not matched with an identified family. The need for adoptive families is strong, and the pandemic has amplified that need,” said Khadija Walker-Fobbs, Chief Strategy Officer at Judson Center and a state leader in foster care advocacy who has mentored more than 50 youth in her career.
About Judson Center
Judson Center, trusted by Michigan families for 96 years, is a non-profit human service agency providing comprehensive services to strengthen children, adults and families impacted by abuse and neglect, autism, developmental disabilities, and behavioral health challenges. Primary care is also offered through the Judson Center Health. Since opening its doors in 1924, Judson Center has grown to change the lives of over 10,000 children, adults, and families each year. Judson Center has five regional offices in Genesee, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Headquarters are located at 30301 Northwestern Highway, Suite 100, Farmington Hills, MI 48334-3277. Learn more at https://www.judsoncenter.org/.