A couple of the Phoenix couple helps more Haitian children to be adopted


Craig and Kathi Juntunen retired in 1998, leaving their successful consulting firm to live a life spent primarily on the golf course and the ski slopes.

"We were leading a very … very privileged life that we were fortunate to fall into," said Craig Juntunen.

On a golf day, he had a conversation with a friend who had adopted a Haitian child. Craig became fascinated by two ideas: "What does the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere really look like? What does it mean? … and the other thing was this thing of adoption. How would that be?

He has traveled to Haiti, where about 80% of the rural population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank. He fell in love with three brothers and sisters – Amelec, Espie and Quinn.

A year later, in 2006, the Juntunens became parents for the first time, adopting all three. Kathi remembers how stunned the children were when they saw the lights of the city because they came from a village without electricity.

This experience led the couple in November 2006 to launch Chances for Children, a foundation for Haitian orphans. According to Haiti, more than 400,000 children in Haiti live without parental protection, although other humanitarian groups give different figures.

ADOPTIONS FROM ARIZONA: Ways to give | Volunteer | Driving change

Chances for Children works with local groups to meet both basic needs and ongoing support, based on non-profit organizations.

"Every child deserves a family," said Kathi Juntunen.

Amelec has accepted a scholarship to play football at Northern Arizona University, and Espie manages the cross-country college and track for Pinnacle High School.

"I am very proud of my parents and what they did," said Espie. "Few people can do it."

For more stories from Cronkite News, visit cronkitenews.azpbs.org.


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