Dozens of tiny kids waved pink and red hearts on wooden sticks as the judge dabbed her eyes with tissues.
When 5-year-old Michael Orlando Clark Jr. went to the Kent County courthouse in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for his adoption hearing, he brought a supportive contingent. His entire kindergarten class came along on a field trip to cheer the new family.
Michael started living with his adoptive parents as a foster child a little over a year ago. When the adoption hearing was getting close, his teacher suggested the classmate field trip, his parents told CNN. They thought it would be a great way to make the big day special for Michael and his friends.
"We asked him and he was just like, you know, the class is kind of my family and he wanted them to be there," his new dad, Dave Eaton, told WOOD, TV8.
"We began the school year as a family," Clark's teacher, Kerry McKee, said in court. "Family doesn't have to be DNA, because family is support and love."
The judge asked each child to stand up, introduce themselves and explain what Michael means to them.
"Michael is my best friend," Steven said.
"I love Michael," said Lily.
Others chimed in with similar, sweet sentiments.
Michael and his new parents banged the gavel together at the end of the ceremony, making the adoption official. His classmates applauded wildly.
"Sometimes their journeys have been very long, they've included miracle and change for the children and family and incredible community support as you're able to see today in Michael's adoption hearing," Judge Patricia Gardner told 13ABC.
"His whole kindergarten class and school being here to say 'we love you,' and 'we support you' and 'we'll be here not only today but in all the years in the future.'"