Adoption Day: ‘He’s been worth every bit of the process’

November 21, 2017

Judge Jeff Nellis, left, with BobbiAnn and Art Wallager, and their son, Zach. Photo by Molly Stark

Scottville couple adopts son during state ceremony.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LANSING — Today, Art and Bobbiann Wallager, stood in the chambers of the Michigan Supreme Court, where they, along with several other families from across Michigan, took place in the state’s National Adoption Day ceremony. As part of the ceremony, Honorable Jeff Nellis, Mason County’s probate court judge, presided over two adoptions involving Mason County families.

The journey to this day has not been easy. It’s been one of many layers of emotions. It’s been an intrusive process that has exposed Art and Bobbiann, along with their teenage children to inspectors, medical exams, lawyers, unannounced visits, and conflict.

But, it’s been worth every minute.

Photo by Molly Stark

Today, Art and Bobbiann became the parents of 22-month-old Zachary. Their journey began before Zachary’s birth. Zach, who is Art’s grandson by birth, was born to teenagers who were not ready to take on the responsibilities of being parents. Art and Bobbiann took Zach home from the hospital after he was born and he’s been in their home since. They immediately began the steps of becoming foster parents.

“It was quite a process,” Bobiann explained. “We had to undergo medical examinations, home inspections, finger printing, and classes on how to become parents.” Both Art and Bobbiann had raised children from previous marriages. “It’s pretty intrusive but we understand why the system is designed the way it is. It’s all about making sure these children have a safe home.”

After months of probate court and human services attempting to “re-unify” the baby with his parents, parental rights were eliminated and Art and Bobbiann began the effort to adopt Zach. And the process started all over again.

“Once we started adoption proceedings, we had to basically go through everything again,” Art said.

“He’s been worth every bit of the process,” Art said. “Zach hasn’t known any other home and we want to give him the life he deserves.”

Art’s son, is currently working on completing his GED, still stays in contact with Zach and plans on being a part of his life, Art said.

“One of the things that has surprised us through all of this is how many grandparents are raising their grandchildren,” Art said. “I had no idea how common this is. There is a whole support system out there of people who are in similar situations. Some of the grandparents are much older than we are.”

The Wallagers said they were honored to be asked by Mason County Probate Court to come to Lansing for the ceremony.

“Judge Nellis and his staff have been great to work with and it’s quite an honor to have been asked to come down to the ceremony at the Supreme Court,” Bobbiann said. “This is quite a public event and the adoption of Zach is very personal, we believe that other people need to know how important adoption and foster parenting is. There are so many children out there who need to be raised in loving, caring homes.”

Judge Nellis said he is equally honored to preside over the ceremonies.

“This day is the culmination of months of legal proceedings,” Nellis said. “The families and particularly the children have been through a lot.  Fortunately, these cases have happy endings, and these children now have permanency, as they are placed with their ‘forever families.

“The festivities at the Supreme Court and statewide, (during adoption month), are designed to bring public awareness of adoption.  The hope is that effort will encourage many more families to become involved in the adoption process.”

This story is copyrighted © 2017, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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