Adoption from Haiti
Andrea Poe is a veteran journalist, whose work has appeared...
NEW YORK — Ten years ago if you’d asked Craig Juntunen to give up the high life for a scrappy game of softball at the local softball field with a bunch of kids, he’d have laughed.
A confirmed non-parent nearing fifty, he and his wife Kathi were living the good life. They’d retired young, made millions on the sale of his business, had homes in Scottsdale and the Colorado Rockies, traveled the world, played golf on the best courses virtually every day and had absolute freedom to do just what they wanted when they wanted, completely unencumbered by jobs or children.
The lucrative sale of his successful business specializing in human capital for high tech firm handed him, in his own words, “a lottery ticket.” High tech in the 1990s was the place to be and Juntunen was at the epicenter. “Totally a case of right time, right place,” he says. Juntunen cashed out, thrilled that he reached his goal to retire by 40. After a decade of early retirement, Juntunen knew something was missing. But what?
Children were not high on Juneten’s priority list. In fact, Juneten got a vasectomy when he was 30 years old and was adamant –and upfront—about his desire to remain childfree. “I had zero interest in becoming a father,” he says. “I wasn’t just someone who kind of didn’t want kids. I was the kind of person who pounded my fist on a desk, swearing I’d never become a father. I always said it was a shame that Kathi married me because she’d have been a good mother, but it was something she accepted as part of our life together.”
All that changed one fateful day on a golf course, when a friend, who had grown children began speaking passionately about the children he’d recently adopted from Haiti. The more he spoke, the more interested Juntunen became. “I was intrigued by his passion, the way he cared,” recalls Juntunen. “I thought about that and realized that had been lacking in my life. I wanted to become as passionate as he was about something.”
Then, of course, there was the complicated story of Haiti, the dire conditions, the poverty, children living in subpar orphanages, in desperate need of homes that compelled Juntunen to action. That afternoon he told his wife that he was going to make a trip to Haiti to see firsthand what the conditions for children were like and to see if there wasn’t something he could do to make difference.
And just like that, Juntunen boarded a plane for Haiti. Once there he began working with an orphanage introduced to him by his friend. Assessing the conditions of the orphanage and needs of the children was his goal. As he was working on this, he met a little girl named Esperancia (Espie). Their connection was instant. “I can’t explain it at all, other than to say she instantly captured my heart. I called and told my wife that we were about to become parents,” he says.
Kathi scrambled to complete the paperwork in the United States, including the home study, a long and protracted screening process that provides necessary clearing for parents. Meanwhile, Juntunen worked in Haiti, trying to improve conditions for orphans. It wasn’t long before he then met Amelec. Since he and Espie were about a year apart, Juntunen thought they might like having one another as siblings. “I called Kathi and she agreed. We’d be parents to a boy and girl. But we were both adamant about the fact that because of our age (both were hovering around 50 years old at the time), we couldn’t and wouldn’t take on an infant,” he says.
That resolve lasted all of several days before Juntunen, during a visit to an extremely poor orphanage met a baby boy, who’d been abandoned on the street. Since the orphanage where he was brought had no formula, Juntunen, explains, “They were letting nature takes its course. He was dying of starvation.”
Juntunen quickly arranged for the baby to be brought to the orphanage where he originated his work, which was better equipped to take care of a baby. He also vowed to help step up support of the orphanage.
While transporting the baby from one orphanage to another, something happened. “He was lying in my lap in the car and I looked in his eyes and I just knew this kid was a fighter. He was scrawny, malnourished, weak, but I could see something,” Juntunen relates. The orphanage began calling this baby “Little Craig,” but within hours, Juntunen had renamed him Quinn. He was back on the phone with his wife, telling her, they would soon also be the proud parents of a baby boy named Quinn.
Juntunen returned to the States while waiting for all the paperwork on the children to process, and he and Kathi flew down periodically during those months to visit their children and lend more support to the orphanage. It was during this time that Juntunen decided he would do something more. He started Chances for Children, an organization that works with orphanages in Haiti on getting resources.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.
sign up for
You May Also Like
- 1 hour, 50 minutes Ago