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adoption

flickr.com/swaity / Licenced under Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Michelle Gach grabs a couple slices of pizza before we get started. She has a story to tell, and it turns out to be a long one, covering the past 14 years of her life, with more tragic turns than most people see in an entire lifetime.

But that comes later. For now, we’re sitting in a room together: Michelle, two of her daughters, and two friendly pit bulls.

The room is mostly bare, exposed plywood on the floor, blue strips of painter’s tape along the baseboard, new doors still leaning against the wall. A project waiting to be finished.

While Michelle Gach finishes her pizza, her daughter Felicity begins to tell me the story of what happened on a Saturday in August 2014.

If you are LGBTQ and hoping to adopt, what are your options?

Jul 17, 2015
Katie Tegtmeyer / Flickr

There are currently about 3,000 kids in Michigan available for adoption. 

Tamara Craiu / Flickr

Michigan’s new faith-based adoption law has come under intense criticism from those who claim it discriminates against same-sex couples. The law allows faith based adoption agencies to deny service to same sex couples, even if the agency receives state funds.

.imelda / Flickr

THIS STORY WAS UPDATED ON 6/15/15

Photo courtesy of Eddie Hejka

There are a few talks nearly all parents have with their kids. There’s the "birds and the bees" talk, and the "don't do drugs" talk. Some parents also find themselves needing to have the race talk.

We reached out to two mixed race families to get their take on the race talk, and hear some of the parenting challenges that brings. 

Just the 17 of us

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The goal for children in foster care is to find them permanent homes. If they can’t live with their birth parents, the next best thing might be adoption. But the road to adoption can be bumpy, and for some children their dreams of a permanent family are dashed before the papers are even signed. 

"I refuse to sink"

Nineteen year old Candice Sponaas is a blonde tomboy with a 1000-watt smile. 

Like a lot of teenagers, Sponaas is really into tattoos. She designed the one on her forearm. It’s a big, floral infinity symbol with an anchor on one end and a rose on the other. In between are the words “I refuse to sink.” As she starts to talk about her broken adoption, I notice her glance down at the tattoo on her arm. It seems to give her strength just looking at it. 

Sponaas moved in with her soon-to-be adoptive family just before she turned 18.  They planned to adopt her in a year or two. But ten months in, things were not going well – especially between Sponaas and the mom of the house. So Sponaas moved out.

"And then we just stopped talking," says Sponaas. "And then she said I think it’s better if we just don’t try to force everything here. I wish you nothing but happiness, but that’s all that there is. So, that adoption is never going to happen."

After foster care, what's next for kids in Michigan?

Nov 3, 2014
vicki watkins / flickr

We've recently spent a lot of time here at State of Opportunity focusing on foster care. If you missed Jennifer Guerra's documentary Finding Home, set aside some time to listen.

April DeBoer, left, and Jayne Rowse with their three children.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, a federal court will hear arguments in the Michigan case, DeBoer v. Snyder. The case challenges the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage, and the ability of same-sex couples to adopt children together. 

No matter how it turns out, the case for and against gay marriage will probably run along a well-trodden path.

Adopted children, largely from international adoptions, are being put into harm's way by adoptive parents often at their wits end. As Megan Towhey of Reuters finds, there are many internet-based forums where adoptive parents can advertise children they no longer want, and other people who want the children offer to take the children.

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case involving the Indian Child Welfare Act. The law is designed to make sure Native American children in the child welfare system stay connected with their tribes.  

Why?  Because for decades, American Indian families all over the country, including in Michigan, were wrenched apart by private and state child welfare workers.

Often with little reason, these workers removed Indian children from their families and tribes and tried to assimilate them into white and usually Christian culture. As barbaric as that might sound, it is not ancient history. 

Judge Alli Greenleaf Maldonado's mother was taken away from her family after her mother, Maldonado's grandmother, died.  She could have been placed with any number of relatives," Maldonado says. "But instead, she was sent to another state to be a domestic worker for a Mennonite minister and his wife."

Maldonado's mother was only four years old when she started working as a maid. Maldonado says it was common practice for young girls to be sent to be domestic workers,  while boys were sent to be farm hands in an attempt to give the children job skills.