Izidor Ruckel, one of thousands of neglected orphans discovered by the American media when Romania opened its doors to foreign press in 1990, will speak Monday, Sept.15, at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall at Bridgewater College.
ABC’s 20/20 news program produced a special report, “Shame of the Nation,” which featured 10-year-old Izidor. A San Diego couple, Danny and Marlys Ruckel, adopted him in 1991.
Healthy at birth, Ruckel – the third child in his family – became seriously ill when he was six weeks old. While in the hospital, Ruckel’s legs became twisted and his parents were told by the doctors that he had an unknown disease – later determined by U.S. doctors to be polio. His parents abandoned him at the hospital and at age 3, he was transferred to the Home Hospital for Irrecoverable Children on the Romanian-Ukrainian border.
Upon Ruckel’s arrival in the U.S., he underwent several surgeries and doctors were able to save his legs.
In 2001, 20/20 accompanied 21-year-old Ruckel back to Romania for the first time since leaving. While there, he was reunited with his birth family and visited the hospital he grew up in. The trip inspired him to write his autobiography, Abandoned for Life in hopes that his story might help other orphans find permanent homes.
Recently, Ruckel teamed up with another Romanian adoptee, filmmaker Alex King, to create a documentary on international adoption and Romanian orphans. Given Our Chance received a Platinum Remi Award at the Worldfest-Houston International Film and Video Festival in 2014.
In 2014, Both Ends Burning, a non-profit dedicated to advocating for the rights of orphaned children worldwide, hired Ruckel as a full-time advocate for orphans.
The event is free and open to the public.