by Craig Juntunen
Tonight was another event with interesting people producing a remarkable energy. I want to thank city host Phillip Garrott and the entire volunteer team for their of pride of ownership. Once they raised their hand offering to make a difference, this team carried a sense of responsibly to make Denver a hit…and it was.
We have 20 hours on the road to get to Memphis, offering me plenty of time to consider how we harness the positive energy we are experiencing in each city to produce real outcome. We have found our stride out on the road, the STUCK event in each city is really meaningful. As satisfying as these nights has been, the practical reality is this effort has to produce more than just a meaningful or interesting night. Our efforts are only of value if we begin to produce results.
Our work is quantifiable by measuring the annual number of adoptions and the prevailing trend line. The numbers and the trend line of the last eight years showcase the problem we are trying to address.
The first action to reverse the trend line and revitalize international adoption as an active component in a comprehensive set of solutions for at-risk children to join a family is the Step Forward for Orphans March on May 17th.
The March is a genuine opportunity to make a statement that the general population wants a change in attitude and behavior. Every night we hear from members of the audience that they are going to make the effort to join the March in DC. If these encouraging words materialize into action, we will have a march of significance. Our goal is to organize a critical mass to make these kids’ lives matter. If people do come, we will have made our statement and taken a powerful step forward.
We are up against human nature. When the emotions are elevated immediately after the film and the town hall meetings, people are ready to go to battle for these kids. But human nature is our enemy, and as time passes, the day-to-day challenges of our lives consume us and derail the motivation to fight. When it really gets down to making the effort, sacrifice and hassles associated with getting to DC, everyone will have plenty of reasons why they just can’t make it. The forces of self-preservation explain why some atrocious social problems persist.
Those that now have the information know what is happening to millions of kids is wrong. It is also tragic because there is an available and abundant solution for these kids RIGHT NOW. Choosing between a permanent family or an orphanage offers little debate to what is a better alternative for a child. The reason kids are STUCK in an orphanage instead of a family is primarily because of the current set of standing priorities. We have the ability to disrupt this, to reset priorities and to start moving children out of orphanages and into families. Shifting priorities is what the March could do, if enough of us are willing to make the effort to participate.
As I stare down I-70 heading east, I know what typically happens. In the heat of the moment, people readily say they are all in. But typically the passion and energy dissipates as something more immediate to our own lives gets in the way.
I hope this time things are different, and what we find to be immediate and important are the lives of countless kids who are STUCK in orphanages. Getting them UN-STUCK comes down to one thing: us…and our ability to follow through.