HUDSONVILLE, Mich — November 24, 2020, will always be Adoption Day for the DeBoer family in Hudsonville.
Tuesday marked the first real snowfall in West Michigan and the first snowball fight as an official family with their adopted son Shaun.
Adoption Day is normally a big in-person event, but due to the pandemic, the DeBoer’s joined their friends, family, and 20th Circuit Court Family Division Judge Kent Engle via Zoom, to virtually and legally add 9-year-old Shaun to the family.
This day was one the family didn’t really see coming but now realizes it's one they were destined for.
"We were convinced that it was God‘s plan for us to adopt him,” Mike DeBoer said.
Mike and Lisa DeBoer said they'd always considered adopting and had been getting their feet wet with the foster care system when they learned about the chance to add to their family from Shaun’s sister’s foster parent.
“One of his sisters lives about two miles away," Lisa said. "We send our kids to the same schools, and when Shaun became available for adoption, she just kind of, out of the blue, called me and said, 'I just want to let you know that Shaun is available for adoption.'"
The DeBoers signed a letter of intent to adopt Shaun in February, feeling called by their faith to help those who need it most.
When they finally met Shaun, there was a definite connection. “I was instantly like, ‘Oh that's my kid,’" Lisa DeBoer said. "I just had this little hiccup in my heart."
The whole family, including the Deboers' four biological children, is on board.
17-year-old Ally DeBoer was brought to tears when she found out. “They told us, and I immediately started crying, and we are just so so excited,” she said.
10-year-old Cameryn is eager for another sibling, and 13-year-old Troy is glad to have another brother to play basketball with.
Even though Shaun himself is a man of few words, you can tell that he’s finally home.
“He is goofy," Lisa said. "He loves to laugh and loves to make other people laugh."
She said that the transition process has been relatively smooth, but it comes with a lot of adjustment and emotions for everyone involved.
“The closer we got to finalization the more it was like his brain could settle down and say, ‘Okay, I'm safe,’ and then focus on other things," she said.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there are about 300 children in Michigan's foster care system still waiting for adoption. The DeBoers said that you don't have to be a perfect parent to be the right family. “Don't wait for the right time," Lisa said. "It's never good but going to be a good time. We did this through a pandemic, and we are moving next week, and life is busy, but it works."
“It's been really good for our family, and we are just really thankful for Shaun, that he can have a forever home and a forever family,” Mike DeBoer said.
Shaun’s two younger sisters were both adopted by families in West Michigan.
Lisa Deboer said that maintaining the family connection is important for Shaun, so they continue to have sibling meet-ups once a month.
Shaun was adopted through Bethany Christian Services.