GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Families in Kent County officially welcomed new members Thursday as judges presided over adoption hearings.

November is National Adoption Month but Kent County has a tradition of holding its day in December and turning the occasion into a festive celebration. 

Judge Patricia Gardner presided over 11-year-old Addilynn Friedli-Harrison’s adoption. Her new parents Adam and Anne Friedli said deciding to make the adoption official was easy.  

“Ever since I was about 8, I knew I wanted to adopt,” Anne Friedli said. “So it’s just been a long time coming and she was my dream.”

With family and friends watching in the courtroom, Anne and Adam Friedli were grateful so many people could be a part of the special day.

Addilynn Friedli-Harrison, 11, was adopted during the Kent County adoption day by Adam and Anne Friedli.
Addilynn Friedli-Harrison, 11, was adopted during the Kent County adoption day by Adam and Anne Friedli. (Dec. 8, 2022)

“We actually were able to get this adoption … to happen sooner, because I was diagnosed with stomach cancer,” Adam Friedli said. “We wanted to make sure it happened in time, in case something happened to me.”

For a family who understands how precious life is, they encourage others to consider adoption and become foster parents.

“It’s worth it because there’s a lot of kids out there that really could use a forever home and a forever family,” Adam Friedli said.

The courthouse staff decorated the building and even arranged a visit from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.

“It is truly the best day of the year for the judges here and the courthouse and the family division to preside over adoptions of many different types and see families and neighbors, and church friends, and extended friend groups of the adoptee come in and support them,” Gardner said.       

Leah and Sam Moerdyk had adopted five children who are siblings five years ago. They were all in the courtroom to watch the judge make the adoption of Tahlia official. 

“We love our kids and she was with us for three and a half years prior to us adopting her, so there was no question that she would forever stay with us,” Leah Moerdyk said.  

They found all their children by serving as foster parents. 

“Fostering and adopting and just having children in general is probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life but it’s also the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do in your life, so it’s definitely worth the time and energy,” Sam Moerdyk said.

If you’re considering adoption, the family recommends meeting with families who have gone through the process.

“It doesn’t take a superhero. It just takes someone who is willing to invest time and effort and love into somebody’s heart and life,” Sam Moerdyk said.

For information on adoption, go to Bethany Christian Services’ website or Legacy Adoption Services’ website.