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One Church One Child Reaches Goal for 2001

CHICAGO –The number of Black children who need foster or adoptive parents is increasing faster than the number of families who are willing to adopt can be enrolled in the state’s system. In Cook County, 93% of all children available for adoption are Black.

“While we have more than exceeded our goal for getting applicants registered, the fact remains that more Black children need homes than can be provided at this time,” said Bishop Harold Dawson, advisory board president of the 20-year old One Church Once Child (OCOC) program.

Dawson says one remedy that OCOC is seeking would mean getting involved in the process earlier –when a family crisis first arises, and before children are removed from their home and families.

“I believe we can be much more effective, and help prevent so many children from entering the system if the scope of OCOC is expanded to include empowering our liaisons to provide the kind of intervention, counseling and support services that families need –before a crisis occurs,” Dawson added.

OCOC was founded in 1980 by Father George Clements. Clements became the nation’s first priest to adopt a child (1981). He subsequently adopted three additional children. Since that time, more than 60,000 Black and biracial children have been adopted. Clements’ life work has been documented in an award-winning film that was produced and broadcast by NBC called The Father Clements Story. Clements is slated to be the guest speaker on Wednesday, June 27 at 9:00 a.m. during the organization’s breakfast meeting at Liberty Baptist Church and will participate in an 11:00 news conference following the breakfast.

Also, during the news conference, awards will be presented to two adoptive parents whose work and contributions have been outstanding. Shirley Johnson has become a foster parent to two siblings who were born cocaine positive; and Beverly Harvey, a single mother with two children, and a full-time nurse, adopted five children.

For over a decade, the OCOC program has worked tirelessly throughout Illinois in a statewide movement to work with the church and the community-at-large encouraging a commitment to the adoption and foster care process. Under Dawson, OCOC has worked closely with clergy throughout the state to identify at least one family in every church that is willing to adopt or become a foster parent of at least one child.

Echoing the need for prevention, Statewide Coordinator Addie Hudson said, “We can no longer afford for our children to wait while adults deliberate, procrastinate and debate their future. Earlier intervention and expanded roles for our liaisons, as well as increasing our partnerships and networking potential, is critical.”

Other highlights of this year’s conference, “The State of the Black Family in the New Millennium,” include recognition of ministers and churches that have made outstanding contributions to the program. Reverend James Meeks of Salem Baptist Church and Bishop Larry Trotter of Sweet Holy Spirit Full Gospel Baptist Church are among the honorees. Presentations to the clergy will take place at Liberty Church, 4849 South King Drive on Tuesday, June 26th from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Persons interested in becoming a foster parent or adopting a child can call 1.877.490.8648 or visit the OCOC


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