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by Cheryl Bochner

I am the Director of Merchandising for the Both Ends Burning Campaign and I normally work at our home office in Scottsdale, AZ. I am currently riding the bus in California for a few days with my son, Jake, and the the rest of the BEB road team.San Diego Craig asked me to contribute to the blog to share my perspective of the tour. This journey has been an incredible opportunity which has allowed me to see the tour from a different angle. It has been an invaluable  experience for both Jake and myself.

The energy in these cities is nothing short of amazing. It brings together all the components of the work we do in the office as we press forward to create more awareness about this broken adoption system. The stories we are hearing on the road from people all over the country is proof that the current system is fundamentally wrong and we must not stop until changes have been made to benefit the millions of children growing up in orphanages, institutions and on the streets. It is staggering to think that governments around the world have not stepped up to deal with this issue sooner and in a more effective way.

Both Jake and myself personally know how important it is to be a part of a family. Family is by far the most important part of my life. I grew up in a close family made up of my four sisters and  parents with a large extended family. If you were to ask any of my friends, you would learn that in my family we are there for each other through every life experience. I ask myself, how can we deny these children this opportunity? It is the only chance they may ever have to be part of a family and to grow up with love and support. Children deserve parents who will teach and encourage them throughout their lives but especially during their important childhood years so that they reach their full potential in life. Regency TheatreWe are personally blessed to have such enriched lives and are determined to help and contribute in any way we can so more children can have these same opportunities. As a child, Jake is seeing firsthand how significant the contribution he is making while helping us on the tour will change children’s lives.

At my first stop on the tour in San Diego, I met dozens of people that came to share the evening and their stories about their children who are STUCK. They came with photos and broken hearts to be with us and we left there more empowered to press forward to fix this problem. These are real families with real stories and life experiences. They want desperately to help these children and give them a better life than the one in an orphanage with barely any running water, normal bathrooms, a bed and bedroom to sleep in and most importantly, a family to love them unconditionally. We are putting these wonderful people on an emotional roller coaster that doesn’t seem like the ride will end at times.

Elizabeth Styffe from Saddleback ChurchAt our next stop in Orange County, the energy was even more incredible as we had a few special guests join us for the evening. Tonight, our special guest was Elizabeth Styffe from Saddleback Church. She is a well-known expert in global child welfare issues and added an unbelievable perspective to our Q&A after the film. She spoke about the moms she works with every day who ask her as they are dying from AIDS, “Who will take care of my kids?” She shared her incredible insights about these human rights issues and these millions of kids that need love and support right now!

We also had the pleasure of having Thaddeus Scheel, the producer of our movie, join us for the evening.

In addition, our guests brought up some very valid points that tied into thoughts I had thought when I first joined the BEB team. Adoptive families go through an intensive process before they can adopt kids, from detailed home studies, fingerprinting, background checks, extensive medical exams, etc., just to become a parent to a child in need of a loving home. In contrast, we give carte blanche to any person in society who conceives a child to become a parent regardless of their ability to provide physically, emotionally or financially. We have subjected adoptive parents to this unbelievable scrutiny, but not biological parents. Society seems to trust what goes on when people give birth and raise a child but seems to distrust the adoption process. While I realize we cannot just place children in homes with anyone seeking to become a parent, we must work to improve the system and help these people now. There are millions of people who care about this issue and together we can be a strong voice to make the changes that need to happen now!

Up next, Los Angeles! Ron has already put the pedal to the metal!

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