IONIA — When the Endres family of Orleans Township sits down together for Thanksgiving dinner this year, they will be doing so with one more addition to the family.
Tony Endres, 2, surrounded by family and friends at the Probate Court of Ionia County at the Ionia County Courthouse was officially adopted Tuesday by his new parents, Val and Craig Endres.
Seated upon the desk of Ionia County Probate Court Judge Robert Sykes Jr., both Sykes and Tony, holding onto a miniature gavel he was given as a gift, made things official as they hammered their gavels together to commemorate the occasion on Michigan Adoption Day 2013.
“I know that Tony, in his own unique way, is very appreciative for what you’ve done for him,” Sykes said to Val and Craig Endres. “You are providing Tony with a stable family, future and permanence. That’s something that all children should have, but unfortunately not all children receive.”
For the Endres family, Tuesday’s events were just a legal formality to bring together a family that has long called itself just that.
“We’re just so happy there’s that secureness now; no more wondering,” Val Endres said.
Val and Craig have long been foster parents for as many as 14 children over the time of several years, and sometimes, as with their older son, Wesley, 5, and now Tony, the end result of that foster care results in adoption.
Tony came into the family’s care when he was only 10 months old, and Wesley when he was just two months old.
Now, Val and Craig have made a lifelong commitment to provide the two boys with a home and family.
“I feel like we can do something good for them, giving them a safe home while they are with us,” Val Endres said of providing foster care. “We give them a place to go when they need it and there are a lot of kids out there who need it.”
Tony’s adoption was one of five adoptions in Ionia County on Tuesday, which coincided with Michigan Adoption Day 2013
Tony was previously awarded to the court, which eventually decided that Tony’s adoption was “desirable and in his best interest,” Sykes said.
“Presiding over adoptions is the highlight of my job, and adoption day in particular is the best day of the year to be a judge,” he said. “To play an important role in creating this family and seeing the love and emotion that comes with it is very rewarding. There are hundreds of adoptions being finalized throughout the state today and Ionia County is always a regular participant.”
Tony will forever have a lasting bond with his older brother as well, and not just because both boys were adopted.
Val Endres said Wesley was included on the decision to adopt Tony.
“We asked him, ‘Is it OK if he becomes a part of our family?’” she said.
Wesley’s answer was “yes,” as he’s been waiting eagerly for a younger brother.
Wesley was also told he could choose his new younger brother’s middle name and settled on Moses, based on his favorite book, “Baby Moses.”
Sykes said he hopes that Tuesday’s adoptions can serve as a reminder to people on the importance of adoptions.
“These children, through no fault of their own, are thrown into this type of situation,” he said. “That’s ultimately what an adoption is all about — giving a child the feeling of permanence, the feeling of forever family. That’s ultimately what an adoption is all about.