(WXYZ) — In Michigan, there are approximately 10,300 kids or teens in the foster care system. If those youths aren’t able to be reunified with their birth family, the next step is adoption.
So far this year, more than 1,100 Michigan youth have been adopted.
“That first drive home from the hospital you know, driving really carefully, getting them in the car seat,” Tim Kocher said.
Tim and his wife Shannon have adopted two kids—8-year-old Gabe and 2-year-old Ava.
After struggling with fertility, the Kochers connected with Bethany Christian Services. They were on a waitlist for 20 months before they brought Gabe home. They waited nearly 4 years for Ava.
“We were about ready to go to Yellowstone and we got a phone call. 'We have a baby for you!' So we changed all of our plans and walked into the hospital that next day,” Shannon said.
While the Kocher’s worked with a private adoption agency, other families seeking to adopt rely on Michigan’s foster care system.
“There’s a special need for teenagers and kids that are just a little bit older," Kelsey Wisotsky with Orchards Children’s Services said.
Orchards Children’s Services is one of the largest child welfare agencies in Michigan. Many kids who come into this foster care system have been removed from their homes often due to neglect, abuse, or mental health challenges.
Understanding the trauma that comes with that, Orchards makes sure to provide therapy. They also facilitate visits and work with the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange to find proper placement when relatives aren’t an option.
“When children enter foster care, it’s not because things are going well all the time and so we want to make sure that when they’re coming to Orchards they know they are coming to a place where they are supported, where they are loved, and they get to have fun,” Wisotsky said.
Of the approximately 200 foster kids Orchards works with, 41 adoptions were completed this fiscal year.
“Success doesn’t just stop just because we count it as an adoption. Success is because a family unit is able to thrive together," Wisotsky said.