We have often heard the African proverb that it takes a
village to raise a child.
To build upon
that theme, Mahoning County Children Services has embarked upon a program to
increase adoption, especially among minority children.
It is called
One Church, One Child, a program founded
by the Rev. George Harold Clements, the black Roman Catholic priest from
Chicago who, in 1981, became the
first priest to adopt a child.
One Child is dedicated to finding adoptive parents for children who have been
placed outside their natural homes. Father Clements has adopted four children,
and since the program’s inception, more than 200,000 children across this nation
have been adopted.
a Children Services employee, attended a state adoption conference in
Columbus a year ago, and he said he
came away with an urgency to know more about the
One Church, One Child program.
was familiar with the program, I did not find the special interest in it at the
time. But it became evident that Mahoning County Children Services could do more
to recruit more families for the large, disproportionate number of older
minority children in care in Mahoning County who need families,” Jemison said.
One Church, One Child is designed to
increase partnership with the religious community with efforts to recruit
families interested in fostering and adopting.
the program is geared to incorporate the leadership of the religious community
with the resources of Mahoning County Children Services to secure permanent
homes for children, he said.
National Adoption Month, and there is an invitation-only dinner set for next
Saturday at the Holiday Inn in Boardman to further explain
One Church, One Child.
The doors open at 5 p.m., and those attending will be
able to hear Father Clements talk about the program he founded, which has spread
throughout the country.
Father Clements, 76, attended St. Mary of the Lake Seminary School, earning his bachelor’s and
master’s degrees. His biography says he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest on
May 3, 1957, and served as an associate pastor at St. Ambrose and St. Dorothy
churches in Chicago; Holy Angels Church, Chicago, pastor, 1969-1991; and as a
priest in the Diocese of Nassau, Bahamas, 1992.
Father Clements also has developed the One Church, One Addict program, a project
which recruits faith communities and health care and education agencies to
support recovering addicts.
After the One Million Man March in 1995, he implemented the
One Church, One Inmate program, to
recruit churches to provide aftercare for men and women who have been in prison.
He has worked
tirelessly to improve educational opportunities for black Americans, to
strengthen black families, to prevent drug and alcohol abuse in black
communities, and to fight racism in the Catholic Church and American society. He
marched in Selma, Ala., with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
working with a small staff of CSB employees made up of Radhika Cruz, Anita
Wainwright and Gail Waters to get the word out and encourage area churches,
particularly black congregations, to attempt to make life better for those
children who need homes.
My family has
long been involved in adoption, starting with my cousins, the Bunkleys, who
lived in the city’s Brier Hill section and adopted two children, one of whom is
now a minister.
My uncle and
aunt have adopted a child, and my brother and sister-in-law also have adopted a
child and were foster parents for many years. My wife and I also adopted a
should pray for success and reach out to participate in the
One Church, One Child program.