On March 13, Craig Juntunen, founder of Both Ends Burning, posted a pro-international adoption essay on Huffington Post, “We Need to Help Orphans Find Families.” If you’re reading this now, you probably know where I stand on this issue: I agree with Craig, so much so that I wish I had written these words myself:
Instead of letting this conversation get swept away in politics, let’s start with the universally accepted fact that institutionalization is an emotional — and sometimes a physical — death sentence for a child. During my travels to Haiti, I met Roberson, a 13-year-old boy who maintains the social, emotional and physical well-being of a 6-year-old. Roberson is unfortunatelyonly one of millions of orphans worldwide that fail to develop critical human functions due to institutionalization.
If we aim to save Roberson and other kids like him from a life behind the bars of institutions, we have to fix the international adoption system. Far too many eager families are simply deciding not to adopt because the system has become so burdensome. Today, the average wait for adoptive families to welcome their children home is 33 months, and costs average $25,000.
Leadership is the answer for these kids, but unfortunately, there is no sense of urgency among those who hold the power to make the necessary changes. For every Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN), who relentlessly pursue justice for these children, there are many others who are content to let The Hague be their excuse for doing nothing.
There must be a way for us to improve the adoption environment without sacrificing safeguards and child welfare. We need to focus on getting kids safely out of institutions, in part by streamlining the time and cost of international adoption. If we can all agree that these children’s lives matter, then why aren’t we doing something to give them a better chance of realizing the dream of joining a loving family?
I share Craig’s frustration. Adoptions from Guatemala to the US closed in December 2007. Since that time, more than 300 cases remain unresolved, and thousands of children remain living in orphanages. And that’s just one country of hundreds.
Tags: Both Ends Burning campaign, Craig Juntunen, Guatemalan adoption, Guatemalan adoption shutdown, international adoption, international adoption and Huffington Post, Senator Dick Lugar, Senator Mary Landrieu and Guatemalan adoption