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African American Adoption Program Honors
Adoptive & Foster Parents of the Year

Peoria, August 16, 2000 -- The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ One Church One Child minority adoption program honored this year’s Adoptive and Foster Parents of the Year at their August board meeting, on August 16, 2000 at New Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church at 413 W. John Gwyn Ave in Peoria.

George and Jenelle Alexander began their relationship with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in 1997 while caring for three biological children and one adoptive special needs child. They became foster parents of a sibling group of two with many challenges and adopted them eight months later.

Duane and Demetria Banks provided foster care to several Illinois children over a period of five years prior to adopting. They have worked diligently with private agencies, providing excellent care to children who would possibly be returned to their homes.

Angelita Johnson has been a licensed foster parent for four years. Her motivation is to let children know that there is someone else out there – in the form of a foster parent – who can be both caring and understanding, and be a part of the process of returning a child back home to his or her parents when the family is no longer in crisis.

"Each of these Peoria families was selected for their willingness to open their homes," said Rev. Cleveland Thomas, Pastor of New Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church. "They demonstrated that extra level of dedication, love and willingness to accept the challenge of becoming adoptive or foster parents to children in need of loving, stable homes."

The One Church One Child minority adoption program is a unique church/state partnership that challenges primarily African-American churches to recruit at least one family from each congregation to adopt a child. Founded in Chicago in 1980, the nationally recognized One Church One Child program has become a model for similar partnerships in over 1,000 churches in 32 states. Approximately 100,000 children have been adopted through this program.

"Family structure is very important to waiting children,"said Rev. Thomas. “Waiting children are of all ages and backgrounds, however, special emphasis is placed on older children, special needs children and sibling groups.”

The number of adoptions of DCFS wards tripled in Illinois over the last three fiscal years, from 2,229 in FY97 to 7,315 in FY99. These increases can be attributed to collaborations between DCFS and the private sector, like the One Church One Child program, as well as the legislature, private providers of foster care services and the court system. Financial and technical adoption assistance may be available both before and after a child in DCFS care is adopted. Contact the Adoption Information Center of Illinois at 800 572-2390 for more information. If you are interested in becoming a licensed foster parent call 800 624-KIDS.

For Further Information Contact: Communications Tel: 312-814-6847

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