DEAR ABBY: The letter signed "One Plus Seven" caught my eye. It was from a woman with seven children whose philandering husband kept telling her, "You can't leave me - who'd want a woman with seven kids?" It certainly hit home with me.
In 1963, my father died, leaving my mother with seven children under 15. (I'm the eldest.) Mom then adopted two war-wounded paraplegic Vietnamese boys. Then there were nine. In 1970, Mom married the handsome Bob DeBolt, who had a daughter from a previous marriage. Then there were 10.Mom and Bob then adopted 10 more children - most were multi-handicapped. Then there were 20. All have been raised to be totally self-sufficient. (A 16th grandchild is on the way!)
But that's not the end of the story. Mom and Dad also founded and still head a national non-profit adoption program called AASK America (Aid to Adoption of Special Kids), which places so-called "unadoptable" children with loving permanent families and charges the parents NO FEES! Thus, many drug-addicted children, fetal alcohol syndrome infants, children with AIDS and scores of older abused, abandoned children throughout this country were able to celebrate the Christmas holidays with their forever families.
The "one-plus-seven" beginnings of our family have currently resulted in approximately "one plus 7,000" adoptions of children with special needs.
Our family received national publicity in 1978 through the Oscar-winning documentary, "Who Are the DeBolts?" We have been honored in countless ways, but nothing would honor us more than to hear from people who want to adopt "special kids" and, I hope, from those whose generosity can continue to make this happen.
Thank you, Abby, and God bless you. - MICHELE ATWOOD, AASK-AMERICA, 657 MISSION ST., SUITE 601, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94105.
DEAR MICHELE: The beautiful DeBolts who founded Aid to Adoption of Special Kids deserve more credit and kudos than I have space to give them. Those who are interested in further information may address their letters to AASK-AMERICA at the above address, or call 1-800-232-2751.
DEAR ABBY: The college girl who usually sits with my 11-month-old baby was unavailable on New Year's Eve, so she sent her friend, "Marge," another college student, to substitute. Marge made an excellent impression - clean, well-mannered and self-assured. Just as my husband and I were about to leave, I was floored when Marge said, "I want you to know up front that if your baby soils her diaper, I will not change it."
I thought I must have misheard her. Abby, who ever heard of a sitter refusing to change a baby's diaper? I asked her why, and she said, "With all the talk of child abuse - you know, child molestation - I can't take a chance of being wrongfully accused."
What is this world coming to, Abby? Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous? Please print my letter and ask your readers if they have. - SHOCKED IN MONTGOMERY, ALA.
DEAR SHOCKED: This is a "first" for me, too, but I can understand Marge's dilemma and apprehensiveness. However, allowing a baby to lie in its own waste for an entire evening can also be considered "child abuse" - so perhaps Marge should find another line of work.
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