Craig Juntunen: Every orphaned child deserves a home

Craig Juntunen, founder of Both Ends Burning, makes the case for inter-country adoption reform Photo: Craig Juntunen and Senator Mary Landrieu talking about international adoption reform

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., October 12, 2012 — The Red Thread has invited Craig Juntunen, Founder of Both Ends Burning, an organization dedicated to promoting adoption as an option for ophans, to share his thoughts on the moral responsibility society has to the millions of orphans worldwide.

Every Child Deserves A Home

If you’d like to tackle an impossible task, try determining the actual number of orphaned children in the world today.

One estimate says there are 8 million children living in institutional care, and another estimate says there are 18 million children who have lost both parents. Although will never know the exact number, we can be sure there are millions of children growing up outside of any family setting.

The fact is that there are too many children all over the planet who do not have the love, guidance and encouragement of a family. This is a horrible injustice and the call to action should be to stop managing this social wrong and come together to start ending it.   

I founded the Both Ends Burning Campaign to promote adoption as a solution for the millions of orphaned children in the world who are warehoused in institutions or wandering the streets.  

One division of the Both Ends Burning Campaign is the Culture of Adoption Movement, which exists to create awareness, promotes adoption as an option.

The other division of Both Ends Burning is iAdopt advisory/policy services, which is a functionally driven division designed to work with stakeholders to produce policy change and process reform.

Inter-country adoption is a great option for the world’s orphans. However, it is endangered and if something isn’t done quickly the activity may soon cease to exist.

Most of the world’s orphans are invisible to us. We don’t see these kids; we don’t know these kid.  It’s easy to forget these kids because we aren’t confronted with the issues they face staring us in the face every day. Both Ends Burning believes it is time to start serving these kids.

One way to do that is to through inter-country adoption.  After all, adoption can serve as a catalyst for human potential. The argument for a child growing up in a family, instead of an institution, is grounded in common sense and there is also plenty of indisputable scientific evidence proving that love grows kids. But sadly, as a society, we are ignoring it.  And as we do, we are allowing children’s lives to be damaged and destroyed.

The solution to turning live around is simple; get kids into families.  Greatness will follow. With such a simple formula, the question is why so many kids are not in families.

The answer comes down to mindset and priorities.  We are currently in a lamentable period of time, which is de-emphasizing the importance of family when it comes to the world’s orphans. If you look at recent history, society has changed its mind many times about slavery, women’s rights, about civil rights. When are we going to conclude that denying children a permanent loving home is in direct violation of human rights and one of the greatest social injustices of our time?

Every year, the number of orphans grows. Despite this, the number of inter-country adoptions has been in significant decline for the last six years.

Why?  Because as a society we have chosen to make other things our priorities. We have chosen to turn our backs on all of the studies that have found that the length of time spent in conditions of social deprivation, like orphanages, correlates directly with a wide array of psychological and developmental challenges.

Children living in institutional settings are at significantly higher risk for developing learning problems, behavioral issues and language disorders. There are ample amounts of studies that validate a child’s development is dependent on a healthy and stimulating environment. Despite all of this evidence we accept that the current international adoption trends show an almost 60% decline in the number of children adopted since 2004.

Would you be willing to confine your child to a small room absent of any developmental experiences for the first critical years of their life? Of course you wouldn’t, and, if you did, you would go to jail.  But, across the planet, that is exactly what we are allowing to happen to these children.

In the end, I am optimistic that a global sense of awareness to this problem will inspire efforts to produce change resulting in more children finding their way into families.

But today’s reality is grim.  For now, millions of children are growing up ignored and discarded.  Both Ends Burning is committed to protect and advocate for the rights of orphaned children so that every parentless child in the future will have a chance to experience the love and guidance of a family. They deserve nothing less.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Andrea Poe

Andrea Poe is a veteran journalist, whose work has appeared in thousands of publications, including Town & Country, Marie Claire and Entrepreneur.  She is the author of several books and her work has appeared in many others, including anthologies and college textbooks. 

Andrea serves as editor of the Travel & Food section at The Washington Times Communities.  Her love of travel has led her to cover everything from remote villages in the Andes to her hometown of New York, from Paris to Pittsburgh, from Beijing to the Bahamas.  No matter where she travels, she likes to uncover the unusual and share with readers those often-overlooked aspects of a place and its people.  She dubs her column Raven’s Eye as a nod to her illustrious (and, yes, infamous) relative, Edgar Allan Poe, a writer who knew more than a little something about the quirky and unique.  

Andrea is also mother to Maxine, who was adopted from Vietnam in 2006, and is the inspiration for The Red Thread column on adoption at The Washington Times Communities.   Andrea is currently at work on a book on international adoption.

In addition to her work as mother, writer and traveler, she is the founder and president of Media Branding International, a consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations craft and promote their image in media outlets around the globe.

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