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by Craig Juntunen

I rejoined the tour after a few days off to get the kids home and back in school. I would like to thank Kelly Ensslin for her willingness to extend her stay on the bus to help host the evenings while I was away. Kelly is a determined advocate for kids stuck in orphanages, and Both Ends Burning is very fortunate to have her leadership and wisdom as a board member. I traveled back to the bus through Nashville this morning where I had the privilege to speak at the CAFO Summit. The minute my speech was over, I made a dash to the door to an awaiting car just in time to catch the plane and literally made it to the steps of the bus in Cleveland at the same time the volunteer team arrived to start the evening.  Whew….

When I was in Scottsdale, I received word that STUCK had won the Audience Choice Award at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Film Festival. This news was very gratifying, of course, and also a big surprise. We originally had been scheduled to screen in a local theater, but due to a challenging location, our city host Jennifer Arndt-Johns had suggested that we try to get the film included in the festival. To be a last-minute addition and have  STUCK  recognized as the audience choice winner with the highest composite score in the entire festival for in all film categories is something we are all very thankful for and proud of.

Tonight in Cleveland, we had another very interesting Q&A highlighted by a comment from a 15-year-old boy who has an adopted brother from Ethiopia. He wanted the audience to understand that no matter how long it takes to bring some of the children home, they are worth it. If he and has family would have had to fight and wait 10 years for his brother to come home, they would have gladly done it because his brother means so much to him.

It was a powerful comment that the audience cheered for and you could see how sincere this teenager was when he talked about the love he has for his brother. After the applause died down, we agreed that every kid is worth the fight…but why can’t we do a better job of completing the background checks to determine eligibility of both the family and the child in a more reasonable amount of time without compromising any safeguards? Then we rattled off a quick list of the of other things that require a background check and with the aid of technology these procedures can be completed in such a short period of time.

One of the things that require a background check is purchasing a gun, which can be completed in a matter of days, and yet to determine if a family is suitable, and can provide a loving, safe and permanent environment for a child who is languishing in a underfunded orphanage, takes 33 months. This makes little sense.

We agreed on two things in Cleveland tonight: Kids are special and are worth the wait. But, if we are considering the best interest of a child, we should be looking for ways to make the wait as short as possible.

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