by Kelly Ensslin
I am honored that Craig asked me to come aboard the STUCK tour bus and help spread the word about this important social movement. I was thrilled to climb aboard in Indianapolis, the hometown of my dear friends and former clients, Nick and Lori LeRoy. Indianapolis is also home to two more of my dear friends and former clients, John and Courtney Cowley and Chris and Marla Laystrom. Their children were also STUCK for years in Bac Lieu, and the struggle documented in the film was their reality for far too long.
I traveled twice to Bac Lieu – once to check on the children and once with the parents to bring their families together and their children home. I’ll never forget those first moments in the Bac Lieu Orphanage at the end of the fight, when everywhere I looked I saw children becoming sons and daughters and families becoming united. I’ll also never forget the hugs and giggles from my Bac Lieu boys, Gabe, Lincoln, and Nate, on my first day of the STUCK tour. My Bac Lieu boys are thriving today with the love of their families, and are normal, rascally, happy boys. I spent some time on the floor of the Cowley’s living room, playing trains with Lincoln and having crabwalk races. It was an incredible reminder of what this is all about. A family is every child’s most basic human right.
My first day on the tour was magical, but not just because I was able to hold a few precious UN-STUCK kids in my arms. I was fortunate enough to meet an army of incredible volunteers, who are every bit as dedicated as I am to fixing our broken system of international adoption. I was struck by their dedication and overwhelmed by the life they are breathing into this tour and this movement. I was able to see the transformation that happened inside folks after they gave just 82 minutes to our cause. I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of the questions and the real curiosity about what specifically could be done to make change. At the end of the first night, I went to sleep exhausted but absolutely certain that together we will make sure that international adoption remains a viable option for the millions of orphan children in the world. Needless to say, I slept well.
Each day that has followed – with stops in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Grand Rapids – has affirmed what I learned on that first day. Each day has been filled with former clients who have become dear friends. Each day has been filled with volunteers and waiting parents and proud grandparents who I trust will become dear friends. We are sharing our stories and building a bond, vowing to stay connected and engaged to finish the work we are starting. The STUCK tour is about raising awareness, and building a new family of sorts for the orphan children of the world. The STUCK tour is about fighting for the most basic human right being denied today to far too many children. I am so excited to see my friends again in D.C. on May 17 for the Step Forward for Orphans March. This is where we come together again, and we join our voices and demand change. I hope to see you there!