Luncheon celebrates adoption and foster program
By Sean Barron
Even though Milton Taltoan of Campbell adopted his daughter shortly after her birth, he doesn’t like to use the word “adopted” as a preface to describing her relationship to him.
“She’s just like my own daughter,” Taltoan said of 3-year-old Sa’Diamond Taltoan. “She fits in well.”
Taltoan was one of the parents of adopted and foster children who, along with others, attended Saturday’s National Adoption Awareness celebration and luncheon at Tabernacle Baptist Church, 707 Arlington Ave., on the city’s North Side.
Hosting the two-hour program was Mahoning County Children Services Board’s One Church-One Child recruitment program.
One Church-One Child is a national project founded in the 1980s that’s dedicated to providing a safe and nurturing environment for youngsters who need a family. OCOC partners with faith-based organizations and churches to recruit families wishing to foster and/or adopt, its mission statement says.
Tabernacle Baptist is one of 21 Mahoning County churches partnered with the local OCOC.
Saturday’s gathering also was in keeping with November’s designation as Adoption Awareness Month.
Taltoan, a forklift operator with Comprehensive Logistics in Austintown, said his wife, Dawn, had adopted children before the couple married in August 2007. That got him interested in being a foster parent, Taltoan explained, adding that it took close to three years for all of the necessary paperwork and other measures regarding Sa’Diamond to be finished.
“It’s very challenging, but I enjoy it,” he said. “I have a love for children.”
The keynote address was from Jason Whitehead, Mayor Jay Williams’ chief of staff and acting director for the Mahoning County Department of Parks and Recreation.
Whitehead cited the biblical story of Moses’ adoption as a young child by the daughter of Pharaoh. Despite having been adopted into royalty with everything he wanted, Moses always had a longing for the Israelites as well as his own parents, Whitehead explained.
Likewise, regardless of how loving their home environment, it’s normal for adopted and foster children to inquire about where they came from and have a connection to biological parents, he noted.
“Do not think you’re doing anything wrong or that you aren’t good fathers or mothers. They’re going through a transition,” he pointed out.
Whitehead also talked about his own adoption and how his church and community provided a lot of guidance when he was young. All of that helped pave the way for Whitehead to serve in many leadership capacities and raise his two children, he said.
“What you’re doing, especially as parents, is invaluable. … It affects positively the lives of men and women,” he concluded.
Hosting the gathering was John Jemison, the local OCOC coordinator, who noted that Mahoning County has about 95 foster homes. Roughly 27 children in the county age 2 to 17 still need to be adopted, he added.
Remarks also came from Judge Mark Belinky of Mahoning County Probate Court, who noted that his court handles nearly 100 adoptions annually.
Other speakers were Louis Wainwright, program administrator for CSB’s Placement Services Department; Luis Arroyo, chairman of the agency’s board of directors; and Denise Stewart, executive director; and the Rev. Al Yanno, pastor of Metro Assembly of God.