Japanese Orphan Among Family Members At Mayor’s Cookout On Father’s Day
PITTSFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ Mayor Charles Smith fed about 50 children, grandchildren and other family members Sunday at his annual Father’s Day cookout - including the Japanese boy Smith is adopting.
But Smith, who is adding Kazuo to a family of six children and five dozen foster children, downplayed the significance of the barbecue, which was the child’s first Father’s Day party.
″It’s probably going exactly the way it is every year,″ he said in a telephone interview from his modest two-story home near Pontoosuc Lake.
″We always have a fine time. We enjoy each other; we’re very family oriented.″
The various family members, including in-laws, were in and out of the house ″throughout the course of the day,″ Smith said.
Kazuo, who will turn 7 in August, seemed pleased with the event.
″I got a nice day,″ he said. ″I played one, two, three, red light.″
Smith, who has served as mayor of the Berkshire Hills city of 50,000 for the past eight years, said his job ″can fill your head with a lot of negative feelings. Children clear your head out very quickly.″
For 30 years, his household has been a refuge for children caught in the storm of parents separating, dying or becoming too poor to care for them. Many eventually return home; some are adopted by other couples.
Kazuo comes from an orphanage the 54-year-old Smith helped build decades ago while with he was with the Marine Corps in Japan.
Smith met Kazuo, then almost 3, when the Japanese government invited him to lecture there.
Kazuo was shunned by other children at the orphanage because of his dark skin, which would consign him to life as a farm laborer, said Smith.
He offered to take the child home with him immediately, but it took $8,000 and three years, delayed by red tape and a heart attack Smith suffered last year.
″He came here in January and you have to wait six months before you can go to court (for the final adoption). We expect to do it in July,″ Smith said.