When Deborah Woods Moody places a child in a home, it makes her cry.
"I am so happy to see that child find a family willing to com-mit for the long haul," said Ms. Moody, a case manager for the Department of Family and Children Services in Richmond County.
The agency will introduce a na-tional adoption-awareness program, One Church, One Child, during a brunch for religious leaders at the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority house, 1108 Phillips St., from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 17.
The effort is tailored to the black community because most of the more than 300 children in Richmond County needing placement are black or biracial, she said. About 35 to 40 are placed for adoption annually, according to DFCS.
One Church, One Child got its start in 1980 when a black priest in Chicago, the Rev. George Clements, adopted a child. The program now operates in 31 states and receives grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Each state's chapter encourages churches to find prospective foster and adoptive parents who are then referred to social-service agencies for screening. Besides recruiting parents, churches are ongoing sources of moral and spiritual support for families, said Ms. Moody, an organizer.
Prospective parents must be 21 or older and self-supporting and must pass a physical and a background check, she said. "The requirements are realistic. Much of the red tape has been removed. All people need is the commitment and patience to work with the social worker."
Renters, divorced persons, singles and senior citizens could all be eligible - older parents can make a tremendous difference in a child's life, she said. "I have one parent who is 67."
The agency is not looking for "perfect parents." Persons who have experienced crisis, unemployment or serious illness could also be considered.
Most children who are adopted range in age from newborn to 12 years.birth and age 12. Teen-agers are left behind "because they are not cuddly babies anymore. (But) with our drug epidemic, we need homes for our children," she said.}
Teens are harder to place, but the effort is worthwhile.
She has seen "problem" teens go from making D's and F's to A's. "It just takes the right kind of parent with commitment," Ms. Moody said.
For more information, call 721-3934. Courtesy reservations for the brunch are due by Thursday. Or visit the One Church, One Child Web site at www.ococg.com.
Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pastoral leaders are invited to a presentation on One Church, One Child, a national minority adoption awareness program, from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority house, 1108 Phillips St. The event is sponsored by the Richmond County Department of Family and Children Services. Call 721-3934.