Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Man Who Knows Suggests Rules for Adoption

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Man Who Knows Suggests Rules for Adoption

Article excerpt

AT LINDBERGH High School in the '70s, Marty Kunkler was a standout baseball player. Senior year, he walked away with every athletic honor possible, including High School All-American.

He was recruited by college baseball powers around the country and went on scholarship to the University of Oklahoma, where he played in three College World Series. Like many American boys, he dreamed of playing for the major leagues.

It wasn't just the money, the prestige or love of the game. "In the back of my mind I always had this dream that if I could just make it to the big leagues, somebody would listen to me," he said.

Kunkler wanted to be in the national spotlight so he could be a

spokesman for kids like himself.

His father abandoned the family when he was 6. A year later, their mother abandoned them, too. Kunkler and his brother, Joe, became wards of the state. Like many baseball careers, Kunkler's got sidetracked by an injury after three years in the minor leagues. He got on with a different life - sports marketing.

But his old dream came to mind last week after he read a new Post-Dispatch feature called Monday's Child, which profiles children who need adoptive homes.

It was 1961 when Kunkler's mother left him and his brother on the steps of the Johnson County, Mo., Courthouse. The boys were taken to what Kunkler describes as a jail (probably a juvenile detention center). "All I know is that we lived behind bars, and we were surrounded by juvenile delinquents," he said.

Their life was cheerless. "We got three hots and a cot, and that was about it," he said. After about six months there, his brother, Joe, shouted down a corridor one day, "Marty, I've got to go. They're taking me to live with some people." The brothers, by then 8 and 9, were told they'd never see each other again.

A few months later, after staying in a succession of foster homes, Kunkler was adopted by a childless couple from Sunset Hills. He moved across the state into a world of suburban security - expansive lawns and Little League baseball games and summer camps and nice clothes.

He knew his new parents wanted him and loved him. Even so, he couldn't stop hurting inside. …

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