Izidor being interviewed on TV, photo by Mihai Popa
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Ruckel attends Romanian premiere of ‘The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman’

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.

Izidor on stage at premiere of The Story of Us in Romania

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.”

Ruckel and Cadar-Lumei
Ruckel and Cadar-Lumei

“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.

“This approach misses the point as it fails to provide families for these children,” said Liviu Mihăileanu, president of Romania Without Orphans Alliance.

Romanian premiere of The Story of Us

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.”

Izidor being interviewed on TV
Photo by Mihai Popa

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.”

Izidor limited series movie poster

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.”