The Atlantic takes a deep dive into Izidor Ruckel's story of surviving a horrific Romanian orphanage. Presenting comprehensive analysis of institutionalized children from experts, the almost 9,000-word story is the most in-depth look to date of what he and tens of thousands of Romanian orphans endured under Nicolae Ceaușescu's Communist regime.
Ruckel ends two years' service with successful event
On January 10th, Izidor Ruckel attended the Romanian premiere of The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman in Bucharest. The event, held in Cinema Pro’s largest theater, drew over 400 people, including journalists, social workers, NGO representatives, and Romanian adoptive parents.
Attendees flocked to watch the docuseries’ third episode, called “The Power of Love.” Subtitled in Romanian, the show featured Morgan Freeman interviewing Ruckel about his life as a Romanian orphan and his subsequent adoption by an American family. Freeman also interviewed Ruckel’s parents, Danny and Marlys Ruckel, who shared about trying to reach into Izidor’s broken heart.
Alexandra Cadar-Lumei traveled all the way from Sighetu Marmației, the northern city where Ruckel’s orphanage was located, to attend the premiere. Cadar-Lumei is the superior councilor at the Department of Social Services and said the evening was “beautiful.”
“I once again had the certainty that the power of love would never make you feel small… incapable... Ugly.... weak.... worthless,” Cadar-Lumei posted on Facebook.
Ruckel conducted a press conference after the viewing. Many Journalists and other audience members asked about Romania’s current state of orphan care. Ruckel invited several child welfare specialists onto the stage to assist in answering questions.
The panel noted that although Romania is closing large orphanages, smaller orphanages are replacing them where children are still cared for by a rotating staff.
Mihăileanu discussed ongoing legislative initiatives that could help speed up the in-country adoption process: lowering the number of relatives sought from the 4th degree, which includes great-great-grandparents, introducing sanctions for not respecting the deadlines in declaring a child adoptable, lowering the number of migrations within the system, and allowing accredited private organizations be more involved.
Ruckel was pleased at the audience’s engagement.
“They seemed to truly be interested in improving the current child welfare system,” Ruckel said. “They were asking what they could do to help. That was encouraging because stepping out and getting involved it what makes the changes happen.”
Several media outlets attended the premiere, including Antenna 3, DIGI 24 and A7 TV. In addition, staff from the La Măruță show came to show their support to Ruckel. Ruckel worked with the La Măruță show for two years, facilitating adoptee reunions with their birth families. The next day, Ruckel made a final appearance on the La Măruță show.
Ruckel now heads home to Denver, Colorado, after spending twenty-two months serving in Romania at Love Light Romania, a non-profit dedicated to providing support services to children, teenagers & families affected by HIV/AIDS. Ruckel worked as a teen mentor.
“I’m grateful for the two years I got to spend in my home country. Serving the last two years in Romania changed me. My Romanian language skills are now much better, and I am more motivated than ever to help orphans get the respect and dignity they deserve.”
Ruckel said he will now focus on getting his autobiography turned into a limited series. Through the project, called Izidor, Ruckel said he hopes to educate and inspire the world about the power of taking a risk on behalf of others.
“To whom much is given, much is expected,” Ruckel said. “We all have something to give.”
Orphan no more: Adoption freed Izidor Ruckel from the hell of his Romanian orphanage. But his physical and mental scars aren’t easily escapable. He picks up a camera — the tool that hastened his rescue — to try to spare others from suffering …