SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Jan. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- International adoption must be part of the solution for Haiti's orphaned children in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake, said Craig Juntunen, international child welfare advocate and the founder of Chances for Children.
"It is time for some child advocacy organizations to stop calling international adoption the 'last resort,'" Juntunen said. "For many of these children, intercountry adoption is the 'best resort.'"
In fact, Juntunen noted, a majority of Americans have a favorable opinion of intercountry adoption and believe that adoptive parents are as likely -- if not more likely -- to be responsible parents than biological parents.
Juntunen announced he will release the full results of a new survey on international adoption Feb. 10. The first of its kind in 12 years, the survey of 1,000 respondents -- conducted by M4 Strategies of Costa Mesa, Calif. -- indicates that many Americans have a higher opinion of intercountry adoption than those espoused by a handful of organizations.
Some estimates indicate Haiti had as many as 380,000 orphans prior to the earthquake. Now, surely, there are many thousands more, Juntunen noted. "My fear is that many of these children will be left behind -- neglected -- by the narrow-minded agendas of special interest groups," he said. "When it comes to the best interests of a child, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution."
In many cases, the best answer for orphaned children is to remain in Haiti if there is a chance they can be re-united with parents or immediate extended family, said Juntunen. That is one reason why Chances for Children has partnered with the Haiti Renewal Fund to assist with the long-term rebuilding efforts in Haiti, especially those geared toward improving the welfare of children. Chances for Children supports a creche in Haiti, and is dedicated to the rebuilding of children's homes, children's hospitals, and schools in the stricken nation.
However, many other children will be left to fend for themselves in an environment that cannot meet their basic needs: safe drinking water, food, shelter, clothing, health care, education and security, he said. "Neglect is as bad as abuse," he said. "We all need to open our eyes to the dire situation facing these children today."
Juntunen believes labeling intercountry adoption as a "last resort" is an insult to the thousands of American families who have opened their homes to orphaned children from around the world. "I have firsthand experience with this, as my wife Kathi and I adopted our three children from Haiti," he said. "I live this experience day in and day out ... I know international adoption works."
Haiti Renewal Fund was launched Jan. 20 with an initial matching grant of $2 million from Jackson Hole residents Lynn and Foster Friess augmented by a subsequent $1 million from Childhelp, drawn from donations specifically designated to the fund.
Donations to "Haiti Renewal Fund/NCF" may be sent to the National Christian Foundation, 11625 Rainwater Drive, Suite 500, Alpharetta, Georgia 30009 or by clicking here to donate online at http://www.haitirenewal.org.
Craig Juntunen founded Chances for Children with proceeds of sale of his successful business. Chances for Children has facilitated the adoptions of more than 100 Haitian orphans in the last three years. Juntunen authored Both Ends Burning, the story of how his wife Kathi and he adopted their children Amelec, Espie and Quinn from Haiti in 2006.
Foster Friess founded the Brandywine Funds and since selling his firm in 2001 has promoted private sector solutions in order to curb increasing intrusiveness of government. Through their Friess Family Foundation, Foster and Lynn, his wife of 47 years, fund water purification units in Malawi and mobile medical vans for the medically underserved.
WEB SITES for more information:
Haiti Renewal Fund: http://www.haitirenewal.org
Chances for Children: http://www.chances4children.org/c4c/
Foster Friess Foundation: http://www.fosterfriess.com
SOURCE Chances For Children