On November 1, 2013, I had the opportunity to attend a dinner and program to help celebrate forty years of success for Adopt A Special Kid (AASK). Several of my sons have been placed in my home through AASK. AASK is an agency that was established in the basement of Dorothy and Robert DeBolt’s home because they saw a need to find permanent families for children with special needs. Over the past 40 years, more than 3,500 special children in California and thousands more through AASK offices throughout the country have found stable and loving homes.
The celebration took place at Scott’s Seafood in Oakland, CA with almost 300 people in attendance. I was able to bring one of our church ASL interpreters with me. What a treat it was to be able to understand what was being said and to be among others who have been involved in adoption! My table chairperson is the current AASK board president (which I didn’t figure out until later in the evening). How special!
Several awards were presented throughout the celebration, and although neither my family nor my name was mentioned, we were referred to indirectly. One person, who received recognition, spoke about how some children placed in her home didn’t necessarily mean it would always work out because the social workers and birth families might find another home which they felt was a better match. I sort of slid in my chair knowing I was the mom for one such child who had initially been placed in her home. I shouldn’t feel guilty that he wasn’t raised by her, but by me (and I’m not). I’m so happy to be his mom! I was not even aware of his presence until a social worker from AASK contacted our family, so it was not like I was trying to steal him from her. It was an awkward moment during the evening.
Later in the program another person, who was also honored, spoke about a young boy who happened to be at a Christmas/Hanukah party on a cold, wet day many years ago in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It seemed others were a little down because of the dreary weather. Suddenly, a young boy born without legs and only short stumps for arms pulled some drumsticks from the back of his wheelchair and began tapping an upbeat rhythm on the table. As the honoree watched this boy drum with delight, he realized this is what life was all about – make the best with what you have. It also helped him realize this child had a life because he had a family. That family was mine. I didn’t slump in my chair as this man spoke, but signed to my interpreter, “That’s my son he is talking about.”
Sadly, Dorothy passed away earlier this year and was not able to be present. However, her daughter, Mimi presented the Dorothy DeBolt Legacy Award that was acknowledged by her loving husband, Bob. Another daughter, now AASK Executive Director, Doni, was wearing Dorothy’s dress and her children were in attendance. I know her spirit filled the large room with the hope that AASK will continue to find homes to transform the lives of children with special needs.
For more information about AASK and the gala go to: www.aask.org