by Craig Juntunen
Portland, OR | April 2, 2013
Today is a day off…well, kind of: I did a few radio interviews and had the local Fox affiliate drive on the bus for a piece that aired on the 10pm news, BUT the highlight of my day is the following email that I received from Jake Bochner—Cheryl, Jake’s mom and our Director of Merchandise, and Jake rode the bus with us in southern California. Jake is a 17-year-old high school junior and has graciously allowed me to share his thoughts:
There is no other way to preface this letter other than by saying that the time spent on the STUCK tour immensely changed my attitude towards international adoption and life in general. I really would like to thank you for having presented my mom and and me the opportunity to come on the tour for a few days and make a meaningful contribution to the wonderful cause. Those four days changed my attitude immensely, both concretely and abstractly, and this how.
When I first watched the film I realized that the gross injustices that arise because of the flaws of the international adoption process not only deny young Haitian, Guatemalan, Ethiopian, etc. children the right to a family, but that even the vastness of this issue has failed to grab the attention of the majority of our nation’s leaders. It is appalling to think that such a large problem could not even faze the attention of the average American. How could we as a nation fail to make a significant effort to ameliorate the situation with millions of children in institutions all over the world? It really is incomprehensible for one to attempt to comprehend how we could screw this up so badly. Domestically, we value the family unit, but internationally, the effort is lacking. It shouldn’t be. The large majority of these children are perfectly healthy, beautiful, and have a charisma that everyone desires. These are three qualities that everyone values in a child, and to think that politics denies these charming children to a loving family is abominable. This is why I admire your hard work on this issue. International adoption is so large, it is virtually impossible to contain the problem that lies within it, but the fact that you have the passion to make attempts to mitigate the problem is inherently heroic. For that, I thank you very much.
Spending four days on the STUCK tour did more for me than just make me aware of the problem at hand. It changed my philosophy on the way that I view this thing that we call life. Life is precious and short. We do things that make us happy. I do things that make me happy, but sometimes unfortunate events prevent me from being happy. But what I perceive as happiness may not be what you or my mom, dad, brother, etc. may perceive as happiness. What is definitive, though, is the fact that children in institutions all around the world perceive happiness WAY differently than Americans. Children in institutions are elated if they get to consume what will keep them alive for another day. It is sad, but before I was introduced to the Both Ends Burning campaign or educated about the issue, it wouldn’t even cross my mind that my life is actually pretty darn good. I live in Scottsdale, AZ; I have a caring and loving family; I am well educated; my parents can afford for me to play a sport; I don’t go hungry; I don’t go thirsty; I wear comfortable clothes; I go on vacations; I enjoy luxuries that they don’t. Why is this? Well, I live in the United States and they don’t. That shouldn’t be a reason for me be able to thrive and them not.
So, I gained two big things during my time on the tour. I gained vast knowledge about the flaws of international adoption that I can share with others and use to educate others who are uninformed about the issue. Most importantly, though, I learned that the daily “problem” that I run into, when scaled, isn’t even a fraction of the daily problem that a child in an institution with no family encounters on a daily basis. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity that I will forever cherish, and thank you for standing up for what you believe in.