Picnic aims to bring awareness, raise funds for adoption

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published June 6, 2017

TROY — The costs of adoption can be daunting for those who wish to bring children into their family. 

According to the Gift of Adoption — a national nonprofit, volunteer-driven charity that raises funds to provide adoption assistance grants to help people complete adoptions for “vulnerable children” — 140 million children worldwide are orphaned, and 500,000 children in the U.S. foster care system await adoption, with 10 percent of them waiting to be adopted for over three years.

Once in foster care, on average, a child waits five years to be adopted, according to the organization. 

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the cost of adoption varies greatly and depends on the type of adoption. 

The MDHHS website states that “the costs typically associated with adopting a child who is a permanent state or court ward are far less than a direct placement or private agency ward adoption. These costs include court filing fees and medical and legal documentation necessary to complete the adoption.”

Jim Berkemeier, president of the Gift of Adoption Michigan Chapter board of directors, said that private adoption costs between $30,000 and $40,000 on average. 

Berkemeier said he’s been involved with Gift of Adoption Michigan for three years. He decided to become involved because his colleagues, who are adoptive parents, were members, and his wife was adopted by her father as a young child. 

The group provides grants ranging from $3,500 to $7,500 for families seeking to adopt “vulnerable children,” he said. Vulnerable children are ones aging out of the foster care system, those with medical issues, and those with siblings who wish to be adopted together. 

Gift of Adoption Michigan will host its annual Picnic in the Park event at 2 p.m. June 10 at the Troy Community Center, 3179 Livernois Road.  

All proceeds from the event will help complete adoptions for Michigan families.

“We step in and bridge the gap to help get the child home,” Berkemeier said. “I became a board member for the impact of helping families come together.” 

Gift of Adoption has provided $210,000 for 75 children to be adopted by Michigan families since its inception in 1996, he said. 

He said he recently had the privilege of helping a Grand Rapids family welcome three children with HIV from Africa into their home. 

“There are so many stories,” he said of the adoptive families. He said he also joined a family to welcome a girl they adopted from China. 

Gift of Adoption Michigan board member Michele Oliveto-Hill said she and her husband were blessed to be able to afford the costs of becoming adoptive parents to their daughters Natalie, 10, and Lauren, 6. 

She said she became involved with the group over a year ago to help families build or expand their families through adoption and to “provide a good perspective.” 

She said both of their daughters had open adoptions, and their birth families are part of their extended families. 

“We think it’s healthier for them,” she said. 

The picnic will take place under a canopy adjacent to the Troy Community Center. The event will feature food, a silent auction, a cornhole tournament, games, crafts for children and information about Gift of Adoption Michigan. Grant recipient adoptive families will share their stories, and Robyn Coden, a Birmingham resident and adoptive parent who writes a blog titled “Dim Sum and Doughnuts,” will speak. 

The cost to attend is $15 for adults; children attend for free. Tickets are available the day of the event. All proceeds from the event will help complete adoptions for Michigan families.

 

For more information or to donate to Gift of Adoption Michigan, visit www.giftofadoption.org.