By NICOLE GUGINO
OBSERVER Assistant News Editor
Sometimes when people do good things, the word gets around. That is what happened when a former case worker mentioned the Wicks family to one of Senator Charles Schumer's regional directors.
Gary and Patty Wicks of Silver Creek receive the Angels in Adoption Award Certificate and Angel pins from Mary Landrieu (right). Enclosed were letters from Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Tom Reed.
From there, Schumer nominated Patty and Gary Wicks of Silver Creek for The Congressional Coalition Institute's Angels in Adoption Award.
"Our society can be measured by how we treat our most vulnerable citizens; this metric is true of individuals and families, as well. Patty and Gary Wicks ... are fully deserving of this congressional honor and beyond that, they deserve our highest esteem," Sen. Schumer said.
Patty and Gary Wicks got into foster care and later adoption after Patty's cousin encouraged her to take the necessary certification classes. Patty said she was a new mother at age 28 when they began fostering children in July 1990.
A copy of Senator Schumer's congratulatory letter:
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Wicks,
I would like to congratulate you for being selected as a 2013 Angel in Adoption. On behalf of the state of New York and our country, I would like to thank you for your selfless acts that are truly making a difference in the lives of children.
Many families and organizations in New York contribute to the well-being of children in need of permanent and caring homes. Your tireless love and dedication on behalf of your foster and adopted children set you apart as an extraordinary family more than deserving of this award. The foster and adoption communities are fortunate to have such thoughtful individuals as you representing their commitment to bettering the lives of children in need.
Each year, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) selects individuals, families or organizations across the nation who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of children in need of permanent, loving homes. I proudly welcome you to the group of distinguished leaders who CCAI has honored with the title Angel in Adoption. Many have come away from this experience with a renewed commitment to serving the needs of the millions of children still without a family to call their own. I know you will do the same.
Again, thank you for all you do to make the dream of a family a reality for every child.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer
She said since then, she and her husband have fostered nearly 100 children and their family has grown to include nine children, by birth and adoption.
The Angels in Adoption program provides a way for members of Congress to honor an individual, couple or organization from their state or district that has made a difference in the lives of children that are in need of a family to call their own. Those nominated for the award are invited to Washington D.C. for a pin ceremony and a gala in their honor at the Capitol building.
Schumer said that Patty and Gary Wicks of Silver Creek exemplify Angels in Adoption to the fullest. The Court Appointed Special Advocate in charge of visiting the foster children in their placement homes praised the Wicks compassion in caring for their nine children, four of which are adopted, including one that is disabled. Schumer said the Wicks are a truly remarkable couple who have aided so many children that they deserve to be recognized.
"Patty and Gary Wicks deserve our deepest gratitude for their selfless acts that are truly making a difference in the lives of children. Over the course of more than 23 years, the Wicks have fostered over 80 children in need of a family, raising each and every one of them with love and care, including adopted sons and daughters who struggle with multiple, serious medical conditions. The pinning ceremony and today's meeting are just a small way we can thank them for opening their doors and hearts and changing lives in the process," Schumer said.
Patty, Gary and their oldest adopted son, Andrew Kennedy, recently attended the pin ceremony and the gala in the nation's capital. The couple received a certificate and an angel pin at the ceremony, as well as letters from Schumer and Rep. Tom Reed.
The three also attended the gala, where they met some more famous "Angels" in adoption.
Emcees of the gala were Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy, the adoptive parents of Michael Oher, whom the movie "The Blind Side" was based on.
"They were very down to earth, they said they didn't do anything special, they just did what was right," Patty said.
Patty said they also met Willie Robertson of the TV show "Duck Dynasty."
"I liked it when he said when they adopted, they were poor, plain people like the rest of us, but because they were obedient and did what God told them to do, that's why they became successful and got their show on A&E," she added.
Patty said although they enjoyed the ceremony and the gala, they appreciated seeing Sen. Schumer.
"The wonderful thing about going to Washington D.C. was that the gala was held in the Capitol building and it was during the government shutdown, but Congress was still working during the shutdown. Senator Schumer came out and we were able to talk with him. He asked us what was important to us that he should address in Congress. I told him about the adoption tax credit. In the past, it was a refund that helped immensely when we adopted. Now, it is a credit and because of the way it is worded, some families get next to nothing," she explained.
She said she liked getting Schumer's promise to be a proponent for changing this legislation.
"He looked us in the eye and told us we would definitely be voting positively on this," she added.
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