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Milford “Wednesday’s Child” Raises Awareness For Adoption Program

Milford's Al Spittler was one of the first children featured on Wednesday's Child, a segment created by WBZ-TV's Jack Williams to promote adoptions of hard-to-place children. Pictured are: Dianne Spittler (L), John (Jack) Spittler, and Al Spittler (R).

"I think the important thing I want people to know is that, no matter how old a child is, they need a permanent home," said Milford's Al Spittler, one of the first children adopted through the Wednesday's Child program.

"Wednesday's Child is basically a program started by Jack Williams [of WBZ-TV and his wife] in 1981 to help find homes for special-needs and hard-to-place kids," explained Spittler. Both he and his brother Ray were hard-to-place, because "we were a sibling group [and were] 11 and 12 years old," said Spittler. "Everyone is always out trying to look for younger kids or babies, but there are over 10,000 kids in state care that need homes."

Spittler and his brother spent over eight years in foster care often separated from each other. He was in a group home when he was featured on Wednesday's Child and said, "I didn't realize that my brother was there [in the same home]. That's when we made the vow that we would be adopted together."

"We were featured in October and the following summer we were in an adopted home in Sudbury," he recalled. The [foster] home that we were in had adopted five out of the six children they already had. We used to call it the empty-bed syndrome - every time there was an empty bed, we'd bring in another foster child."

Living in foster care for so many years often results in emotional distress and brings unique challenges. "I did have a problem ... befriending kids before I was adopted because I didn't know where I'd be the next day." Spittler recalled." I think it's a lot tougher [being adopted as an older child] because you remember all the stuff and you know all the things you went through and you have all that baggage that you carry with you."

Though he and his brother were eventually adopted together, they were separated from two younger siblings for many years, finally reconnecting when Spittler was a high school senior. Though he hasn't seen his birth mother since he was four years old, he has since developed a relationship with his birth father. "He was a young guy and he had some alcohol problems," Spittler explained, "And four kids in four years - he couldn't handle it."

Today, both Spittler and his brother have families of their own. "My brother Ray just retired from the military in November. He spent 20 years in the military ... and has two kids of his own." Spittler and his wife Dianne, who was originally from Milford, have two children, as well.

Both Spittlers devote time to the First Unitarian Church of Milford, with Dianne serving as Director of Religious Education and Al as a former member of the church's board and current coordinator of the Community Supper Program, providing meals to those in need.

Spittler, who often speaks on behalf of the MAPP (Massachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) a group that provides courses for prospective adopted parents, is the manager of a Wendy's restaurant in Natick.

The restaurant chain supports the Wednesday Child's Endowment Fund through an annual coupon fundraiser. This year's coupon drive runs until the end of February, although the coupons won't expire until the end of May. "Twenty years ago, Jack Williams and [Wendy's founder] Dave Thomas formed a great relationship. Dave Thomas was adopted, so he was very instrumental [in helping the program]. Over the last 20 years, Wendy's has raised over $2 million for adoption," said Spittler.

Spittler manages the Route 135, W. Central Street Wendy's in Natick and said, "I'm trying to get my store to be the top seller [for coupon books].


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