GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — When it was Marissa’s turn to interview with FOX 17 at the Kent County Courthouse, she stood completely still, waited for the microphones to be clipped on her cardigan and then began spelling her name.
“M-A-R-I-S-S-A,” she said. “ H-O-L-M-E-S.”
Immediately, her new family cheered in the courtroom.
After years of hoping for a forever family, Marissa got one officially on Thursday.
“They can post me on Facebook,” Marissa said with a smile. “And, they can call me theirs even though they already did.”
The family laughed once again.
15yo Marissa finds her forever home after 7 years in the foster care system.— Lauren Edwards (@LaurenEdwardsTV) December 3, 2021
We first met her during Fox 17s “Forever Home” series by @AnnieSzatkowski back in 2019 when she was looking for family that would care for her & always be together. She found it w/ the Holmes // @FOX17 pic.twitter.com/GHtkJnKLVv
Marissa has been in the foster care system for seven years, she said. Two years ago is when FOX 17 first met her during the Forever Home series.
“A family that’s caring and safe and cares for me,” she said during the segment back in 2019, describing her wishes for a family. “They do stuff with us.”
READ MORE: Finding Marissa her Forever Home
Since then, she’s been in foster care with the Holmes, who was inspired by a story they’d seen on FOX 17 to become foster parents.
Marissa said they’ve always treated her like family, even during the disagreements and the hard times.
“She and I had a conversation last week where I told her when she first came to live with us I was always saying to her, ‘This is what’s it's like to be family. This is what’s it’s like to be a family,’” mom Barbara recalled. “And, I said I find myself more often now saying, ‘Wow, you are such a part of this family and what makes this family work.’”
Barbara clapped and cheered when Judge Patricia Gardner hit the gavel. So did Marissa.
“Feeling awesome. It’s been a long time waiting,” said dad Scott. “And at least this adoption is a success.”
Lately, the Holmeses have been fostering three kids, including a newborn. They tried to adopt once before but were unsuccessful. This time with Marissa, they were. Her whole support team — teachers, friends, coaches, old case workers — watched and cheered via Zoom.
“Any time you have a child enter the system, they enter with much concern and you wonder what will be their journey. In this case for Marissa, 2,883 days in foster care. Most of us in the community would say that’s too long. So, you have to balance that with finding the Holmes family and being in a wonderful situation,” said Judge Gardner. “I think it highlights the work of many in child welfare, whether it’s case workers, therapists, teachers, coaches, foster parents.”
Referee Lynn Perry was also at Marissa’s adoption hearing. She said she’s been involved in many of her hearings over the years and watched Marissa grow up.
“Sometimes she was having a lot of acting out to deal with that. All very understandable,” Perry said. “But, like I said, Marissa liked to come to the hearing. She always would talk and give me her opinion on what’s she was doing and she never lost hope.”
Hope is the one thing Marissa said she doesn’t want any of her peers in foster care to let go of, especially when waiting for a family.
“Always have hope and never give up, because it will come,” she said.