Eduardo Verástegui, star and co-producer of the award-winning film “Bella”, delivered the keynote address at the Adoption Roundtable at the White House on National Adoption Day.

WASHINGTON, DC –Eduardo Verástegui, star and producer of the award-winning film “Bella”, delivered the keynote address at the Adoption Roundtable at the White House on National Adoption Day. “Every time someone adopts a child or opens their home as a foster parent, they demonstrate the highest love imaginable,” said Verástegui. “Adoption is a beautiful gift that gives children and parents an opportunity to love and be loved.” Verastegui, the International Ambassador for Adoption, pledged to “spend the rest of my life sharing the beauty and wonder of adoption with world.”President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush also shared remarks in celebration of National Adoption Day. President Bush, in speaking to parents and children, said he was “so thankful that the parents and children here today have found the gift of one another. And I encourage our citizens across the land to explore adoption, look into the joys of adoption, and provide love for somebody who needs it.” Mrs Laura Bush said, “Adoption is a hopeful act. It’s an act that’s brought joy to millions of American families — including ours. President Bush and I are the proud adoptive aunt and uncle of a niece and nephew.” Marshall Bush, the adopted niece of President & Mrs Bush, was in attendance along with her mother. Marshall Bush has joined Eduardo Verastegui in a campaign to promote Adoption by conducting private screenings around the country of Verastegui’s adoption themed film, Bella.

The White House invited Verástegui to participate in the National Adoption Day event because of the success of his new adoption-themed film “Bella,” which won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and it has been the #1 Top Rated Movie in the US since it’s release. “Bella” has been rated the number one film by fans on the New York Times readers’ poll, Yahoo and Fandango. The White House is hosting a screening of the award winning film later this month when they will also honor it’s filmmakers with the Presidents Volunteer and Service Award.

This is not the filmmakers first time at the White House because Bella’s director, Alejandro Monteverde, received the prestigious “American By Choice” Award at the White House in January from the director of immigration for his positive contribution to the country through “Bella” as a new American citizen.

Inspired by true events, “Bella” is a heartwarming story about friendship, family and our capacity for love in the face of the unexpected. The filmmakers received the Smithsonian Institute’s prestigious Legacy Award for Bella’s contribution to the arts & culture and the $100,000 Grand Prize at the Heartland Film Festival, the largest cash award of any film festival in the world. Bella was this years recipient of the Tony Bennett Media Excellence Award for creating entertaining and inspiring films that have the potential to change people’s lives. Bennett said “Bella is a perfect film, an artistic masterpiece that will live forever.”

The film has been embraced by adoption leaders across the nation who have also adopted hundreds of theaters by buying out entire show times in support of the film and its message. In addition, the National Council for Adoption presented the film with its Media Excellence Award. “Bella” celebrates the unlimited joy that Adoption brings to a family,” said Tom Atwood, president of the National Council for Adoption. “It is probably the most profound film I have ever seen and it is the most important film for adoption advocates ever made.” “Bella” was produced by Metanoia Films, a film production company owned by Sean Wolfington (financier/entrepreneur), Eduardo Verástegui (actor/producer), Leo Severino (producer), Alejandro Monteverde (director) and Eustace Wolfington. The mission of the filmmakers is to make films that entertain, inspire and make a positive impact on people’s lives.

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First Lady Laura Bush and Eduardo Verastegui speaking at the National Adoption Day event at the White House where both spoke to invited guests about the benefits of Adoption

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Eduardo Verastegui, International Ambassador for Adoption, received a standing ovation for his impassioned keynote speech about the beauty of Adoption on National Adoption Day at the White House

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First Lady Laura Bush and Sean Wolfington (financier/producer of Bella) at the White House during the reception for National Adoption Day

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Tom Atwood (president of National Adoption Council), Rodney Atkins (Grammy Award Winning artist), Eduardo Verastegui (actor, producer, Int Ambassador for Adoption) and Sean Wolfington (financier/producer) gather at the White House with the President and First lady to celebrate National Adoption Day

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Marshall Bush (presidents adopted niece and adoption advocate), Eduardo Verastegui (Actor, Producer, Intl Ambassador for Adoption), Margaret Bush (presidents sister-in-law) and Sean Wolfington (financier/producer of Bella) at the reception at the White House during National Adoption Day.

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Eduardo Versastegui (Actor, Producer, Intl Ambassador for Adoption), Emilio Estephan (Grammy award winning producer), Alejandro Monteverde (Director, Scriptwriter, Producer) and Sean Wolfington (financier/producer of Bella) in Rose Garden at White House.

The White House is reaching out to faith-based and community groups to find homes for the nation’s 115,000 children in foster care, waiting to be adopted.

Dawn Cooper, a single mom of four adopted teenage girls, says misperceptions abound – especially regarding the adoption of older children.

Watch for more on adopting foster care children, from Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family. Daly talks about his experiences in foster homes.

Some of those misconceptions include the belief “that there’s no way for them, no hope for them. That there’s nothing you can do. That if you don’t get them as infants, you just can’t bring them into the home. And that’s totally incorrect,” she said.

Cooper’s daughters advise children considered difficult to place to hold out hope.

“I’d say just keep trying, keep wanting to get a family, because when I was eight I prayed that I would get a loving mom. Then kind of a week after, I got a mom and I was so happy,” Dawn’s daughter, Elisa, said.

‘Bella’ Sparks Nation-wide Debate

A film called Bella is sparking nationwide debate about adoption. It’s film’s leading man, actor/producer Eduardo Verastegui, spoke at the White House as United Nations unofficial ambassador for adoption.

“Families have changed their lives forever after adopting a child. Because it’s not only that a family can give a child a home, but they themselves would have the gift of motherhood and fatherhood. So in adoption… everybody wins,” Verastegui said.

The Bush administration has expanded tax credit to encourage more families to adopt. Currently it’s running an ad campaign to recruit adoptive families

“Families who adopt show the generous spirit of our Nation. Every child desires a permanent home, and when parents adopt a child to love as their own, lives are forever changed,” President Bush said.

There is also a White House Web site designed to connect those available for adoption with families like Victor and Rhonda Long, who found their third adopted child online.

The White House says the government can help recruit potential parents, but faith based and community groups must play a critical role to bring more families together.

*Original broadcast November 16, 2007.

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