A Kindergarten Boy Invited His Entire Class to His Adoption Hearing

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We can’t choose the families we come from. Depending on the luck of the draw, some of us get lucky enough to be born into happy homes with healthy family dynamics. Some of us aren’t so lucky and are born into broken homes. Our early childhood experiences have the power to define the entire rest of our lives, from who we become to what kind of life path we follow.

In a perfect world, we’d all have equal opportunity, but for now, that’s not the case. Fortunately, some kids like Michael Clark Jr. get a second chance when they’re taken in by new families who can better provide for them. Despite only being in kindergarten, he understood how special the day of his adoption hearing would be, so he invited his whole kindergarten class. This is how it went.

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Family Is Not DNA

Family can have two meanings. There is a blood family which is completely outside of our control. In a perfect world, these are the people who are meant to love us unconditionally and with whom we can always find a home. Then there is our chosen family. Usually, this is formed through the people we choose to surround ourselves with and can take many forms, like friendships ad mentors.

The hearing finalized the adoption of the five-year-old boy (center) by foster parents Andrea Melvin and Dave Eaton (standing)
America Strong / ABC
America Strong / ABC

Michael didn’t get to choose his blood family, but he was able to find the true meaning of family in people he was never related to. First, he found it in his schoolmates: “We began the school year as a family,” said his teacher, Kerry McKee. “Family doesn’t have to be DNA, because family is support and love.”

Hope In The Making

Michael was living in foster homes when he was placed with Mr. Eaton and his wife, Andrea Melvin. This was the couple’s first experience in fostering a child. Mr. Eaton says:”Right from the get-go, you could tell when you met him that he was a really outgoing child,” adding that. “He didn’t seem intimidated by us or the situation.”

His friends held up love hearts inside the court
Kenty County Court
Kenty County Court

While this was initially supposed to be a temporary situation, when the parental rights of Michael’s birth parents were terminated by a court order, Mr. Eaton and Ms. Melvin started considering adoption.

A Life Changing Decision

Ms. Melvin and his wife thought about it, and after a year of living with Michael, they decided that they wanted him as part of their forever home. That’s when Ms. Melvin told Michael’s kindergarten teacher, Kerry McKee, about the adoption. They started discussing how impactful it would be to have his classmates there with him.

An entire kindergarten class filed into a courthouse to show support for their classmate Michael Clark Jr., 5, during his adoption hearing in Kent County
Ken Count Michigan
Ken Count Michigan

Ms. McKee believed that the trip would also be a way for the 5- and 6-year-olds to learn more about their community and open up conversations about adoption.

The True Meaning Of Family

Michael already considered his classmates as family, having shared with his new dad, “You know, the class is kind of my family.” This made it all the more powerful when the whole class showed up to his hearing. “His whole kindergarten class and school being here to say ‘we love you,’ and ‘we support you and ‘we’ll be here not only today but in all the years in the future.'”

ichael Clark Jr as his adoption proceedings are completed during a hearing in Michigan
ABC News
ABC News

Having all that love and support meant the world to the child. After all, he was just a kid with a limited understanding of the unfair circumstances that led to him being without his parents in the first place. He was in his swivel chair up front, swivelling around and facing his classmates,” Mr. Eaton said. “He felt like a king of a castle on that day, just loving it.”

Supporting Through Love

Michael was just like any other kid. His young age allowed him to keep his innocence even in a time of confusion and darkness. His adoptive parents noted that he loved to dance, swim, play basketball and soccer, and especially spend time with his friends.

Michael Clark Jr's classmates are pictured holding up their heart signs at the courthouse following the hearing

Michael may have a hard time understanding exactly what was happening in his life, but seeing so many people support him validated that he was loved and not alone.”I think he understands that this means he has a permanent home now,” Mr. Eaton said. “He’s not going to be taken away.”

A Field Trip To Remember

Once the official documents were signed, the kindergartners waved their handmade heart signs in the air.” They were bumping into their seats with excitement, and all the adults were extremely emotional,” Ms. Allen said.

Classmates attend Michael's adoption hearing in a Michigan courthouse on Kent County's annual Adoption Day
ABC News
ABC News

Michael’s classmates even got to play a role in the hearing, and each introduced themselves to Judge Patricia Gardner. The judge had asked them to explain why they were in her courtroom, why they loved Michael. His whole kindergarten said “we’ll be here not only today but in all the years in the future,” says the dad.

Michael’s adoptive father said that even he started tearing up listening to the children’s testimonials. For this special kindergarten class, this will always be a field trip to remember.

If We Only Could Be A Little More Like Children

There is something really special about children. They don’t see the world with all of the conditions and expectations that we grow up to hold. They just see people as good people and maintain that image until they’re proven wrong. Having so many children in such an adult-like setting brought life and innocence into it. “The lesson is to put a little love in your heart,” said Ms. McKee. “We rise when we support others.”

all the children ad teachers sitting in the back and holding hearts

As the children supported Michael, they shared with the judge: “Michael is my best friend,” said a small boy named Steven.

“My name is Lily and I love Michael,” a little girl added.

Even Michael shared his excitement, telling a camera for local television: “I love my daddy!” as his father welled up.

Giving Children A Second Chance

The photo of Michael relaxing in the adult-sized courtroom chair next to his adoptive parents has since gone viral, being shared more than 100,000 times on Facebook. People beyond Michael’s community couldn’t help but be happy for him. This child was given a second chance at a full life by his adoptive family. He can now have an opportunity at health and success. This isn’t the case for all children, but it gives hope.

The little boy with his new family posing with judge
Ken Count Court
Ken Count Court

“Sometimes their journeys have been very long. They’ve included miracle and change for the children and family, and incredible community support – as you’re able to see today in Michael’s adoption hearing,” the Honorable Judge Patricia Gardner shared,

Good Things Ahead

Michael’s future is still unknown, but now it’s bright. The smile and pride on his face on the day of his fearing says it all. Children are our future. That, however doesn’t mean that it’s ever too late for you to make a difference and find a meaningful life.

close up of Michael smiling
NBC News
NBC News

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Aria Misty

Aria Misty is a recent university grad. She did her undergrad in media, information & technoculture with a Master in Journalism & Communications in 2018.

Aria has a particular interest in all things astrology and spirituality. This is driven by her desire to create healing. In fact, Aria went back to school for A master’s in counseling p[…]