Mathias family ring bells of hope at Saugatuck Congregational

Nick Mathias, 4, adopted son of Mark and Kim Mathias, of Westport, at four months of age could have been an infant left in a basket on someone's doorstep, as has happened many times in harsher social times.

Nick, however, was lucky to be a charge of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF). Nick was placed by DCF in a different home when the asthmatic baby boy's parents were found unfit to care for him.

As such, the ailing baby was placed with a foster family in Westport, Mark and Kim Mathias, then parents of a daughter, Nicole, 7. The placement took place only after DCF found the Westport couple competent to be foster parents.

Mark's a specialist in technology and Kim is a Connecticut Assistant Attorney General on the staff of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. She is assigned to DCF and works out of the Attorney General's branch office in Waterbury.

On Sunday, Nick, who was adopted two years ago by the Mathiases, pulled as hard as he could 25 times on the rope that rings the bell in the steeple of the landmark Saugatuck Congregational Church at 245 Post Road East in Westport (with some help from his Dad.)

At times, the swinging metal bell pulled the rope up so hard that little Nick, holding on for dear life, was lifted off his feet.

Despite the unusual timing of the bell's ringing, the congregation of the church, which was founded in 1837, was not alarmed after the worship service ended on All Saints Day.

That's because Kim and Mark Mathias, after being introduced ahead of the service by Pastor John H. Danner, alerted them to the happening.

The couple and their adopted son, Nick, 4, were centerpieces of a project that called for the unusual sounding of the church bell at Saugatuck Congregational and churches across the state Sunday.

The project was to call attention to the need for adoptive families to help the 25 adoptable children now on the DCF adoption list.

An explanation of the bell-tolling project was also printed in the church bulletin. The bulletin read: "November is National Adoption Month (featuring) `Bells of Hope: Ringing in a Brighter Tomorrow for Connecticut's Waiting Children.'"

"This project is quite simple," Deb Kelleher, of Cheshire, and coordinator of Foster Adoptive Mission, reported.

"Churches across the state, including Saugatuck Congregational, are ringing their bells today, one time for each foster child in Connecticut who needs an adoptive home, currently that number stands at 25."

Kelleher went on to say that, "Too many children in this great country wait far too long for adoptive families. Some are never adopted and `age out'. Of those who `age out', approximately 50 percent of them eventually experience homelessness or become incarcerated."

"If one family decides to adopt because they hear those bells ringing, then God's work will have been done," Kelleher said.

Mom and Dad Mathias, meanwhile, told the Westport News that after foster child Nick was with the family two years, a judge determined that efforts to reunite the little boy with his natural parents did not work out. At that point, Kim and Mark Mathias were offered the opportunity to adopt Nick.

"The Department of Family and Children always tries to reunite the foster child with the family before offering a child for adoption," Mark Mathias said in an interview. "When we were told Nick was adoptable, we decided in half-a-second."

Mark related that he and his wife and daughter Nicole, then 7, fell in love with Nick soon after he joined the family at four months of age.

The adoption not only extended the family circle, but the couple contends it also made their fondest dream for another child come true.

For further information contact about the program and adoption, contact Deb Kelleher, Coordinator, Foster Adoptive Mission, P.O. Box 9117, Waterbury, CT 06724, visit or call (203) 706-0101.