Dorothy DeBolt

Dorothy Atwood DeBolt (December 29, 1923 – February 24, 2013) brought the need for adoptive homes of special needs children to the forefront of American attention and gained widespread acceptance for handicapped children in mainstream schools.

As a young widow in 1963, Dorothy DeBolt was the mother of seven children ages three to fifteen, including two children adopted from Korea. She went on to adopt two more boys from Vietnam, enlarging the family to nine children.

She met Bob DeBolt on a blind date, who also had a child, (daughter Doni DeBolt, who recently became the Executive Director of AASK | Adopt A Special Kid). Dorothy and Bob married, and together raised 20 children, 14 of whom were adopted.

Dorothy and Robert DeBolt with their 19 children 2

The 1978 Academy Award winning documentary Who Are the DeBolts? was about the DeBolt family and their adoption of special needs children.

In 1996 Dorothy and Bob DeBolt received the Child Advocates of the Year Award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC). 1

Dorothy & Bob DeBolt 3

In 1973 Dorothy and her husband Robert "Bob" DeBolt founded the Oakland-based adoption organization Aid to the Adoption of Special Kids, now known as AASK|Adopt A Special Kid, a nationally recognized licensed adoption agency and 'last resort' for "special kids."

Dorothy DeBolt was living with her husband Bob in El Cajon, California at the time of her death.

Dorothy was survived by Bob, her husband of 42 years, her children Mike, Mimi, Stephanie, Noel, Kim, Marty, Melanie, Doni, Ly, Dat, Trang, Phong, Tich, Anh, Reynaldo, Sunee, Karen and Wendy, 27 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren.

A public memorial was held as part of the first Dorothy DeBolt Memorial 5K Fun Run/Walk on July 7 in Oakland to benefit AASK. See

Links and References

  1. Adoption: A Reference Handbook by Barbara A. Moe
  2. WHO ARE THE DEBOLTS? (AND WHERE DID THEY GET 19 KIDS?) San Francisco International Film Festival
  3. Dorothy and Robert DeBolt