By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

Throughout November, which is National Adoption Month, children in Pennsylvania’s foster care system, including those under the care of Catholic Social Services (CSS) of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, have been the beneficiaries of prayers that they find loving homes or “forever families.”

CSS, the Pro-Life Union of Southeastern Pennsylvania, numerous parishes of the Archdiocese and other churches and organizations are part of the 50 Churches/50 Children program, a grassroots collaboration to give care and shelter to orphans, said Edel Finnegan, director of the Pro-Life Union based in Oreland.

In conjunction with the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN), the 50 Churches/50 Children program focuses on the prospective placement of older children.

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Last year, CSS facilitated 21 adoptions, two of which were children above the age of 13, said Robert Montoro, program supervisor of CSS’ Adoption Services.

Among the Catholic parishes participating in the program are St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. Raymond of Penafort and Our Lady of Calvary, all in Philadelphia; Immaculate Conception B.V.M., Jenkintown; St. Anthony, Ambler; St. James, Elkins Park; St. David, Willow Grove; Holy Martyrs, Oreland; St. Pius X, Broomall; St. John of the Cross, Roslyn; St. Luke the Evangelist, Glenside and Visitation B.V.M., Trooper.

Participating Catholic parishes received a picture and profile of a child between the ages of 10 and 17 and were asked to share the child’s story through the parish bulletin and bulletin board and to highlight during weekend Masses pro-life messages and the needs of children ready for adoption.

Parishioners have been asked to pray for and perhaps consider adopting a child.

Among the numerous children hoping to be adopted are:

Chad, 14, is a talkative young man who likes to fish and shop for new clothes. He also favors hip-hop and rap music. Chad is looking for a close-knit family and would do well in a home where he is the youngest or only child.

Idris, 12, is a smart and friendly boy who is respectful toward adults and protective of younger children. He likes to watch movies, perform magic tricks and play board games. Although he has an adventurous spirit, feeling safe is important to Idris. He would be well-suited in a home that provides routine and consistency.

Autumn, 16, is an outgoing young lady who likes interacting with others. She enjoys helping around the house, completing household chores, styling her hair and monthly visits with her brother.

Christina, 15, is a friendly, observant and helpful young lady. She is stylish and enjoys dressing in the latest fashions and playing basketball and video games. She remains in contact with an older sister and it is important to her that she be able to maintain that connection. Christina would thrive in a family that provides inspanidual attention.

Emonie, 11, is a caring and sweet young lady who has a brilliant smile. She likes to jump rope and play hop-scotch and basketball. Emonie also likes to read and listen to R & B music. She is looking for a family that includes other children and a dog. It is important to her that she be able to maintain contact with her biological siblings.

Nicholas, 15, is a fun, energetic and humorous young man. An avid outdoorsman, he likes to hike, camp, bike and play basketball and football. He is a good student who studies hard to earn good grades – and has made the honor roll. At the same time, he is willing to ask for help when he needs it. He also likes having stories read to him. Nicholas is seeking younger siblings and an active family that enjoys spending time together, a family that will accept him for who is and not expect him to be perfect.

Father Christopher M. Walsh, pastor of St. Raymond and St Therese, said he has had more than one conversation with parents who have already raised their children and are considering adopting an older child through 50 Churches/50 Children.

“It does begin with trying to open within the hearts of all people welcoming the gift of a child, that a child is not a burden,” Father Walsh added. “This is just one more way of our building the culture of life.”

Msgr. Thomas A. Murray, pastor of Visitation B.V.M. Parish in Trooper, said he hoped the program would heighten an awareness of the need to reach out to children who are parentless. “It’s respect for life,” he said.

Among other requirements, those who are interested in providing a permanent home for a child must first complete a home study which CSS facilitates through SWAN at no cost to prospective parents.

The study is a comprehensive assessment of the family, their background, desire and ability to care for a child.

“If possible, consider it; if not, pray for those who are considering it,” Montoro said.

For more information, contact Adoption Services of Catholic Social Services at 215-854-7050 or visit the Web site

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or