On Monday, March 4, the Terrace Theater is bringing the documentary Stuck to Charleston. Stuck, which is in the midst of a 60-city tour, follows the lives of four international orphans from Haiti, Vietnam, and Ethiopia, all of whom are forced to live an institutionalized life while their adoptive families fight, sometimes for years, to gain custody. After the film, there will be a Q&A with executive producer Craig Juntunen and members of the adoption community.
According to the film, the average international adoption takes 896 days and costs more than $28,000. The never-ending bureaucracy that adoptive families are forced to deal with has led to a 60% drop in American adoption, despite a wealth of willing parents. Both Ends Burning, an adoption advocacy organization that helped produce Stuck, is working to change the failing adoption policies that are making it impossible for foster parents to adopt children who need a home.
Local resident Diana Thornley and her husband have adopted eight international orphans, and have firsthand experience with the difficult process. “It’s hard to adopt from countries like Panama, because the laws change frequently,” Thornley says. “You aren’t always allowed to see the conditions the children live in, but what I’ve seen are nannies who genuinely care about the children, but are faced with overcrowding.” The Thornley’s children come from Ethiopia, China, and Panama. “I have great stories. They come here with no English and face a language barrier, but they learn so quickly,” says Thornley. One of her children, Li-Li, needed cleft pallet surgery that she wasn’t able to get in China, and is now getting ready for her fourth procedure in America. “These are children who deserve not only homes, but medical care. Here, they can live long, healthy lives.”