Weekly, adopted himself, calls on people to 'give a kid a chance'

For Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, news stories about kids who are abused and abandoned hit closer to home than for most.

"I always wonder and think, 'That could have been me,' " Weekly told an audience Wednesday at a breakfast to recognize National Adoption Awareness Month.

In a story he hadn't told in such detail before, Weekly recounted how his family never told him its most close-kept secret -- that he was adopted.

He found out when he overheard a conversation between his grandfather and uncles. But even after that, no one would ever discuss it with him, he said.

Weekly tip-toed around the subject for decades, and it wasn't until recently -- after his parents and other older relatives had died -- that he felt comfortable revealing his secret.

He's getting more comfortable telling people he's adopted, and he hopes by speaking up he'll show other adopted children what they can make of their lives, he said.

At the breakfast held at the Three Square food bank, county Department of Family Services Director Tom Morton gave awards to several agency employees and others who have worked on behalf of the county's foster children, including Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley and Family Court Judge Cynthia Dianne Steel

Morton said his agency has made great strides in finding permanent homes for foster children.

Last year 427 county foster children were adopted, up from about 300 two years earlier. And this year's number is on pace to set a record.

"We have come so far," said Clark County Manager Virginia Valentine, who has an adopted daughter.

The county agency also recently won a $2 million federal grant to help recruit foster and adoptive parents.

Weekly said he hoped more people would be willing to become foster or adoptive parents for the children who need them.

"If you have room in your heart and in your house, give a kid a chance at life," he said.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@review journal.com or 702-383-0281.