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By Matt McCoy
To listen to Craig Juntunen talk with Joel Riley me, click HERE:
I told you last week about my upcoming trip to Washington DC for the Step Forward for Orphans March coming up this Friday, May 17. The March is the brainchild of Craig Juntunen, the executive producer of the documentary Stuck, which brings to light the broken system of international adoption.
Juntunen has been a leader all his life. He was a quarterback at University of Idaho, is in that schools athletic hall of fame and even played professionally in the Canadian Football League. He now calls the signals for Both Ends Burning, an organization whose objectives are to promote adoption as a solution for children without parents and to help facilitate changes in the current system.
Juntunen, who adopted his three children from Haiti in 2006, joined 610 WTVN's Joel Riley Monday morning to talk about Friday's March, the movie Stuck and the need to change and improve international adoption.
"The system of international adoption is so inefficient and so broken and disfunctional, it's actually prohibiting adoptions," Juntunen said. "As a consequence many kids are outside of a family that could easily be in a family."
As I wrote last week (and have posted below), it's an issue that is close to my heart because my family was formed through adoption. My wife and I adopted our daughter and son from Guatemala. Their adoptions were challenging but went smoothly compared to the current situation. Several countries, including Guatemala are now closed to adoptions and families that are adopting from countries that are open are waiting two, three, four and five years to bring their children home.
"Eight out of ten Americans believe international adoption is on the rise when in fact it's in free fall decline. International adoption has fallen every year for eight straight years." Juntunen said. "The problem is political apathy and the reason apathy is persisting is simply because most people are unaware of the issue."
That's the reason I'll be going to Washington for the March on Friday. We need to educate the public and lawmakers that there is a problem and the lives and futures of children are at stake.
There is an easy way for you to help. There is an on-line petition (click here to sign) and we need signatures. Washington needs to know that people care. Read through the peition and if you are so inclined, please sign it. I would love to get your help and support.
In case you missed my blog last week, explaining why this is so important to me, I've reposted it below. Since then I've received phone calls and e-mails of support. I thank you for that. It means a lot to me.
Why I'm Marching in Washington DC
Since I started doing the Sports Blog its content has been true to the name...sports. It will continue to be that way, however I ask for your understanding and your help as I speak about an issue that is personal to me.
My family was formed through adoption. My wife and I are parents of two wonderful children, who were born in Guatemala. It was a long and challenging process filled with uncertainty and anxious moments. At the time it seemed as if our children would never come home but in retrospect, compared to the current state of international adoption, their cases went relatively smoothly.
On April 29, my wife and I went to a documentary called Stuck which is touring the country and made a stop in Columbus. Stuck details the broken system of international adoption. (A trailer for the movie is posted above.) I was aware of the current issues but the movie engaged me. Instead of sitting on the sideline, I decided it was time to get into the game, raise awareness and try to make a difference.
As things stand today, if we wanted to adopt from Guatemala, we could not. Adoptions to that country are now closed. The same is true for Russia, Vietnam and many others. Meanwhile, the countries that are open are taking two, three, four or five years for adoptive families to bring children home.
As Stuck points out, adoptions internationally, to the United States are down almost 60 percent in the last six years. There are conservatively 10 million children, worldwide, living in orphanages. As international adoption in the United States slows, many of those children will live their young years 'stuck' in institutions instead of in familes and potential mothers and fathers are denied the opportunity to welcome in a loving child.
On Friday May 17th, my family will be in Washington DC for the Step Forward Orphans March. Its goal is to raise awareness and tell our lawmakers that they need to start to notice and to start to care.
On Monday morning at 7:05, I look forward to talking on WTVN with Joel Riley about the issue. We will be joined by Craig Juntunen, the founder and President of "Both Ends Burning" a foundation with the goal to create a culture of adoption and help facilitate process reform. Juntunen is also the excutive producer of Stuck which continues to make its nationwide tour.
I'm grateful to my friends on the WCOL-FM morning show "Woody and the Wake Up Call." Woody Johnson, Dan Zuko and Stacie Raterman gave me an opportunity Thursday morning, to talk about my upcoming trip to Washington and how you can help by signing this petition to make a child's right to a family a priority.
To listen to my talk with Woody click HERE:
I also wanted to share this with you. The Stuck tour visited New York City this week and Craig Juntunen appeared on NBC 4 in New York. It's a wonderful interview about Stuck and international adoption. If you would like to learn more about the issue I have his interview posted below.
One final thought: After my talk with Woody, Zuko and Stacie on WCOL, we took a call off the air from a listener who wondered with so many kids in need of families in the United States why did we not adopt domestically and why was I not promoting domestic adoption.
To be clear, I think domestic adoption should be promoted. I applaud anyone who has a passion for children and wants to start a family through adoption---whether it's domestically or internationally.
Ultimately, kids are kids, whether they were born in Columbus, Chicago, Budapest or Moscow. They all need homes and they all need loving families. Adoption, wherever it takes place, should be encouraged.
My wife and I did look into and pursue domestic adoption but for our family situation, international adoption was simply a better fit. Because of that, this issue is close to my heart. I lived through it and it pains me to see the current state of international adoption. That's why I'm so passionate about it and that's why we're going to Washington.
Again, this space will continue to be all about sports...but I thank you for allowing me to share this important issue with you.