by Craig Juntunen
I learned a few things in Des Moines tonight: first of all, the people in the heartland mean what they say. The actions of the volunteer team led by Shayla Hood, were consistent with their promise to create a STUCK experience to be remembered. Integrity is defined as a consistency between your beliefs/values and your actions. The Des Moines team had a plan, and followed it through. The result was a fabulous evening.
I also learned that Iowa on a per capita basis contains a significant immigrant population. Iowans are a people who embrace diversity. Tonight, we discussed how diversity is an asset and leads to making us more complete human beings.
One of the arguments UNICEF and others who oppose international adoption hang onto is this idea that any child who leaves their country of national heritage will be traumatized. I disagree. Real trauma is created by forcing children to grow up in underfunded orphanages without any love or affection. Our heritage never leaves any of us and it is always part of our individuality. Global segregation, which organizations like UNICEF are advocating for, creates more social barriers and fosters misunderstanding and prejudice. Global segregation is no reason to trap a child in an orphanage to stubbornly attempt to preserve individual heritage because heritage never leaves any of us, irrespective of where we reside at any given time.
What made this country great, and Iowa great as well, is we embraced diversity. We have a landmark called Ellis Island to memorialize and celebrate a platform of diversity. And, open-minded thinking can tell us that every child should have a family, irrespective of where that family resides.
Our hope is that programs like family preservation and family reunification will grow and flourish, but we also hope that international adoption is proactively included in a broad comprehensive range of solutions to facilitate at-risk children to belong in a family. The people in Iowa understand kids are kids, whether they are born in Houston or Haiti and every kid deserves a family!