County celebrates National Adoption Awareness Week with 11 adoptions

On Nov. 13, Shelby County’s Probate Court became a celebration room, festooned with balloons, streamers and the sound of children’s laughter.

That day, Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister and his staff helped eight Shelby County families change the lives of 11 children through adoption. The event was in honor of National Adoption Awareness Week, which is Nov. 16-22.

Fuhrmeister, who was himself adopted as an infant, said he considers it an honor to be a part of such a special day for so many families.

“I can’t describe how it feels. It’s such a special day. I’m a lawyer. I’m a judge. All the things I’ve been able to accomplish were given to me by my parents,” he said. “We focus on the kids and how excited the kids are, but it’s equally, if not more, exciting for the parents. They’ve worked so hard for these kids.”

Chelsea residents Jeff and Amy Dummier were at the courthouse to celebrate the readoption of their 3-year-old daughter, Emerson, who was born in China. Readopting is the process of registering a child’s adoption in the state of residence.

The Dummiers have three children, two of which are adopted. For Jeff Dummier, adoption was a deeply personal choice.

“I was lucky. I was adopted. Lots of kids don’t get the chance to have a good home,” said Jeff Dummier. “We felt called to adopt.”

Nine-year-old Jackson was born to the Dummiers, while 6-year-old Harrison was born in Russia and adopted in 2004, and Emerson was adopted in 2008.

“I was always brought up, and Amy was too, that you give back to the community. I was adopted and I wanted to give another child the gift I had,” said Jeff Dummier.

However, adoption isn’t just about giving a child a new life. Jeff and Amy’s lives have been completely changed as well.

“The thing some people don’t get is, you’re not just doing (children) a favor. They’re giving you a great gift,” said Jeff Dummier. “They’re giving you their lives. A lot of people look at adoption like, ‘I’m saving,’ but they’re giving to you too.”

Fuhrmeister said even though he’s only been part of the National Adoption Awareness Week celebration for two years, he’s seen and heard about countless lives being changed. Last year, he heard about a woman who had raised 50 children, adopting some and fostering others.

“Think of the opportunities. Those 50 children, where would they be without that one person?” Fuhrmeister said. “If you think about what’s behind this, the lasting relationships between the parents and children, it’s just awesome.”