Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

James Browning

stories from the book
by James V. Browning

One More Chance

Richard Paul Dolan

Richard Paul Dolan doesn’t know where his mother is. He hasn’t seen his father since he was a baby. He has two brothers, but he’s not sure where they are.

Richard, a self-confessed trouble maker, was born in Korea to a Korean woman and an American GI father. Before he was a year old, his parents had moved to Houston, Texas and divorced. Young Richard was shipped off to live with an aunt in Sapulpa where he remained until the seventh grade. By this time, he was in trouble and was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Tulsa. They couldn’t handle his antics, and a year later Richard was a resident at the Children’s Home, Owasso.

One night, while at the Children’s Home, Richard and some of his buddies sneaked out and roamed around “just having some fun.” This, plus a succession of smaller incidents of insubordination, sent 15-year-old Richard to Boys Ranch Town in May 1987.

It was here that he began to evaluate his life. “At the Children’s Home, when I did something wrong, basically I received a slap on the hand and was told not to do it again,” said Richard. “But at the Ranch, it was either shape up or ship out. I realized there wasn’t any place else for me to go. I was out of aunts and uncles; I had been through foster care, and that didn’t work, so I was at the end of the line.”

Richard credits responsibility as being a key to turning his life around. “They make you work at the Ranch,” he said.

“Richard was dealing with a lot of anger and disappointment when he came to live with us,” said Ranch Administrator, Tony Kennedy. “The real miracle we have seen has been his willingness to accept life the way it is and to deal with his disappointment and discouragement through involvement in church and school activities.”

His houseparents, Earl and Betty Perry, and associate houseparents, Margaret Ward and Roger Sisco, taught him to focus on getting along with the other boys, and gave him appreciation for a future that looked bleak three years earlier.

Richard also believes God had a lot to do with it. He was saved at Falls Creek when he was 13. Although he remembers his aunt and uncle as being religious, not a lot of people helped him after his salvation experience. It wasn’t until his Children’s Home and Ranch days that he was presented a structured quiet time and Bible study that gave him opportunity to grow.

Richard observed, “Ultimately without God, I would be nothing. He kept me going when there was no one else to turn to. At the Ranch, God had to be the one I leaned on.”

Richard moved from Boys Ranch Town after graduation into a foster home. As a starting defensive back on Edmond’s Class 5A state championship team, he held hopes for a football scholarship to college. When that failed to materialize, Richard joined the service. At last account, he was serving Uncle Sam as a private in the 187th Medical Supply Company at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Prior to leaving the Baptist Child Care ministry, Richard admitted he had been a mixed-up kid, moving from place to place. “The special thing is, people were willing to work with me. They really cared about me,” he said. “You know, all I ever wanted to be was normal.”

Oklahoma Baptists gave Richard that chance.

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