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MINISTERS OF STATEWIDE ADOPTION
PROGRAM HONOR PARENTS

MINORITY ADOPTION PROGRAM CELEBRATES 1 9TH YEAR

CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 15, 1999 -- Two Chicago area families today will receive the Adoptive Parent Recognition Award from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ One Church One Child Program for their extraordinary assistance provided to Illinois children awaiting adoption.

Mr. & Mrs. Dave White of Hazelcrest and Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Love of Chicago were foster parents to their children prior to adopting. Both families adopted with full knowledge that their children had special needs.

"We are blessed and fortunate to be a part of such a precious gift," said Mr. White, who shares with his wife a deep love and commitment to the raising of their children. "Our prayer is that others will step up to the plate and embrace an opportunity to give a child love, nurturing and a family."

The efforts of the One Church One Child program have highlighted the mission of DCFS – to find more safe and permanent homes for children. More than 1,500 mostly African-American congregations in Illinois participate in the program. There are currently 1,538 DCFS wards statewide waiting to be adopted. Of these, 1,301 are African-American children. In Cook County alone, 711 of the 764 DCFS wards awaiting adoption are African-American.

"We are constantly thinking of ways to help children. Locating a family and a place for a child to call home is the main way we show that we care," said Rev. Robert Freeman, president of One Church One Child in Illinois, and pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Rantoul. "It is because One Church One Child builds on the belief that these are our children, and therefore our responsibility."

For the second consecutive year, the Department of Children and Family Services has moved a record number of children to permanent homes through adoption and legal guardianship. DCFS reported 9,514 wards were adopted or placed in subsidized guardianship in 1999, increasing the number of placements since 1997 by 294 percent. In one year alone, 3,019 more children were adopted than the previous year. For Fiscal Year 1999, 7,315 adoptions were completed.

"The increase can be attributed to the hard work of DCFS employees and private agencies who understand a child’s need for permanency," said Addie Hudson, state director of One Church One Child. "While the number of DCFS adoptions has increased dramatically, we will not be satisfied until every child has a place to call home."

Six children available for adoption will be present at today’s event held at Shiloh Baptist Church where Rev. Gordon Humphrey Sr. is the Pastor.

Financial and technical assistance may be available both before and after a DCFS foster child is adopted. An adoption hotline (800-572-2390) is available to answer questions and to help families begin the adoption process. People interested in becoming foster parents can call the Foster Parent Hotline at 800-624-KIDS.

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The One Church One Child minority adoption campaign, founded by Father George Clemens in Chicago in 1980, challenges primarily African-American churches to recruit at least one family from each congregation to adopt one child. The nationally recognized One Church One Child program has become a model for similar partnerships in 32 states and the District of Columbia.

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