CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. — It was a big day for 15-year-old Pierce Overway, one 2,642 days in the making.
Jeff and Wendy Overway officially adopted Pierce. They have been fostering him as licensed foster parents through Samaritas since 2019. They previously adopted their son, Michael, a few years earlier.
"We got a phone call one day, they had an emergency placement," said Wendy, "and we agreed to take him in. We weren't intending to adopt again. It was just going to be temporary. And then, we fell in love."
Pierce was one of 27 children who officially have forever homes during Kent County's 25th annual Adoption Day.
"There’s always somebody who loves you in the world," said Pierce. "You may not know who it is, but there’s always someone."
Wendy said the silver lining of the pandemic was they had time to stay home and get to know Pierce.
"We looked at each other and said, we can't let him go to another place," said Wendy. "He's part of our family."
His parents say fostering a teenager was not always easy, and often an "emotional roller coaster." However, at the end of every day, they fell in love with him even more.
"I think the scariest part is to think about so many teenagers that don’t get adopted," said Jeff, "and they don’t have a home, and their chance of success is not that great. So for us, to be able to have a hand in it with these two lives we’ve brought in our home, we’re hoping we can help them see and realize their potential and have a happy life."
According to Kent County, 2,161 adoptions were finalized in 2019. Of those, only 8% of the adoptions were between the ages of 13 and 17. This year in Kent County on Adoption Day, nine teenagers were adopted. That included a 15-year-old girl named Marissa.
“The tragic truth is, teen adoptions are rare,” said 17th Circuit Family Division Judge Patricia Gardner. “Like Pierce and Marissa, far too many kids spend years moving from one foster home to another with no sense of permanency. Many age out of the foster care system before they’re adopted. We are so happy for Pierce and Marissa and for their families. Theirs is a story of deep love, commitment and renewal, as are the stories of every single adoptive family.”
Jeff said Pierce's adoption is also an accomplishment for Samaritas, who worked with the family during the fostering and adoption process.
"When we first got Pierce in 2019 to now, wow, what changes we’ve seen," said Jeff. "They want to feel wanted, and know someone cares about them, and that’s when their life changes."
Wendy said fostering to adopt was something she always wanted to do.
"A lot of people romanticize it," said Wendy, "but it’s not a Hallmark card all the time. But there are days where the good outweighs the difficult times and it’s, oh, wonderful."
Pierce said he's feeling a bit "overwhelmed" after his adoption day. However, he said he has a loving family who cares about him, and he has a forever home and family.
"The perfect Christmas present," said Wendy.
Pierce agreed, and said, "It'll just make the holidays even better."
WATCH PART OF PIERCE'S ADOPTION:
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