Celebrating an adoption with your friends, family, and the community, is something even COVID-19 could not stop this family from accomplishing.
On Saturday April 18, Newaygo County residents, Joe and Stephanie McFarland were thrown a drive-by adoption parade as an alternative to having an adoption finalization court hearing. Typically an event like this would be held in the courtroom in front of the Judge. Due to the recent outbreak, waiting for a hearing could be months out so instead, friends and family of the couple gathered, all while practicing appropriate social distancing, to celebrate the welcoming of their three, now official, daughters.
It was an event filled with an overwhelming sense of emotion and togetherness. Many were seen crying “happy tears,” as the eldest daughter said with a very wide smile. Others were seen streaming confetti as they drove past and cars were decorated with many congratulations and welcomes.
And of course we had lots and lots of honking!
The urge to give the family hugs and practice social distancing was a difficult task to manage with so many happy emotions, but the event went on with the next best, what the family refers to as “marshmallow hugs.”
The event brought people from many of the agencies throughout the community to Resonate church who graciously and generously offered their parking lot for the ceremony and parade. The area proved to be large enough to fit the well over 50 cars in attendance.
Many law enforcement agencies and members from local county offices were also in attendance, including a surprise appearance by the Honorable Judge Melissa Dykman.
Judge D: “It was such a privilege to be part of the drive-by adoption event. This family has waited a long time to finalize this adoption, when the Covid-19 situation hit it was clear that an in-person ceremony to finalize the adoption would not be immediately available.
“That being so, the family asked the court to finalize the adoption without a hearing. I did that on April 14, 2020, as allowed under the Statute. It was the DHHS worker that expressed a desire to give the family something special to celebrate the adoption. As a result, the drive by adoption celebration was organized by devoted DHHS workers and specifically Nicole Klomp.
“I was so honored to be invited. As I said then and say often, overseeing adoptions is the best part of my job, to be part of the creation of these forever families is so special. During this difficult time it was great to be part of something so positive. The smile on those little faces that day will stay with me forever.”
All came together to show support and gain closure for a much anticipated and long awaited adoption.
In a time with so many uncertainties and confusion, the parade appeared to be exactly what was needed to bring joy and excitement to many.