Abandoned For Life

Abandoned For Life: Romanian orphan survives ordeal

The Incredible Story

Of One Romanian Orphan

Hidden From The World.

His life. His words.

by Izidor Ruckel

Joan Bramsch, Editor

Hi dear Reader,

It's not every day that I get the honor of meeting one of life's truly remarkable people. His name is Izidor Ruckel.

I'm Joan Bramsch and I've just completed editing Izidor's book which is now available in print, as well as CD-ROM format, and instant download PDF file.

Izidor is one of the Romanian orphans who was discovered ten years ago in the Hospital of the Irrecoverable Children, a fortress-like building jammed with 500 children, all Special Needs of every type imaginable.

Romanian child, Izidore Ruckel, abandoned in orphanage in Romania

Every physical, mental and emotional illness were represented, living all together in horrific conditions, hidden from the world by the Communist government because they were deemed misfits, creatures of shame in their own country. Many were made more ill and eventually died after contracting hepatitis and Aids caused by the reuse of dirty hypodermic needles.

When ABC News 20/20 did a report on this story -- you probably remember seeing it -- John Upton went to Romania on a mission. Izidor was one of the children he eventually brought to America. Read his letter here

Let me tell you about this young man Izidor, now a college student in California. Let me tell you about the author of this book.

For the first ten years of his life, this tough little guy survived when others would have simply curled up and died. He did it by taking charge in the chaos. In my opinion, his instinctual determination to survive is the reason he overcame all that he did.

"Abandoned for Life is a powerful and provocative insider's view of international adoption. Izidor shares the brutal truth of his experiences and invites us to explore what is really in the best interest of children."

Marlou Russell, Ph.D.
psychologist, author of Adoption Wisdom

From the tender age of seven years, he became a leader among his peers, cajoling when he could, handling situations when he had to keep control. He was often put in charge of his group -- we're talking about as many as 65 children at a time! He used stern discipline when he had to, but he never mirrored the house nannies, who beat with broomsticks and rock hard hands and heels of shoes.

From beneath the tattered covers of his cot one night, he secretly witnessed the death of one child in this manner and, although he intellectually realizes he could do nothing, he still bears the misplaced guilt that one little child might have saved another.

“This book has moved me, horrified me, and given me hope. It should be studied by anyone involved in child welfare. It’s message will stay with me forever. Izidor Ruckel is one of this century’s most remarkable heroes.”

Christina Goldstone
-author of “Come to the Window”

The director was an alcoholic, chainsmoker with a heart of gold, who saved Izidor from his birth parents, who abandoned him for life as an infant, when they came back upon the scene after sensing a possibility for profit. They would sell their crippled child like chattel to the stupid -- "Who would buy damaged merchandise like him?" -- rich American woman, or else put him on the street to beg for them as they had taught their other children to do.

When the secret of these hidden children was revealed to the world, relief agencies poured clothing, food and medicine into the country, but most of the supplies -- even the bright colored balls were stolen from the children -- were either taken home by the employees or sold on the Black Market. Can you imagine? The medicines, meant to heal these sick children, were never administered. Instead, they were sold on the street!

These children who existed in this hidden place lived more like animals than humans - often naked, relieving themselves where they stood or sat or lay, ill in so many ways but not fully comprehending that they were. Suffering the beatings of impatient caretakers, eating food unfit for consumption, bearing the cold of unheated surroundings, not all of them survived. Izidor tells us about those children who died.

Think of this: To live a child's lifetime without one toy, one treasure, is almost beyond belief.

Izidor reports all this, matter of factly. He lived it and did not know there was a better way. But, with his description of his experiences, the reader realizes that he sensed there must be more to life than this and so, he was determined to survive and to protect all those weaker children whom he could defend, often taking beatings for others. He learned early to cover his head when an angry nanny came toward him.

Izidor was just 11 when ABC News 20/20 found him in 1990 - warehoused with hundreds of children in a hellish institution in Romania. The sign over the door declared the children inside were "unsalvageable" -- Izidor was there because his leg was disabled by polio. Somehow he survived in Auschwitz- like conditions and managed to catch the attention of an American couple trying to adopt.

For more than a decade, 20/20 has chronicled Izidor's remarkable life - from his arrival in California to his return to Romania in 2001 where he confronted the parents who abandoned him. Izidor's story was the recipient of an Emmy award in 2002.

"Abandoned for Life" is Izidor's story in his own words. It's a story of courage, determination and forgiveness by a young man who beat the odds - and has now set out to rescue those who were left behind.

Janice Tomlin produced a series of Emmy-winning reports on Romania for ABC News 20/20.
She is now a producer for CBS News 60 Minutes.

In the Hospital of the Irrecoverable Children lived a fluctuating population of between 400 to over 500 children of every type of special needs, from infants to 18-year olds -- 3 nannies per 150 children on the day shift; 2 nannies for the afternoon shift; 1 nanny for the night shift, and God help any child who disturbed the night shift nanny!

The cots were lined up along the walls, and the children had to sleep together, head to toe, toe to head, often on urine-soaked bedding, because there were too many of them.

Why their depleted immune systems did not kill them all in the squallor of this concrete "prison," is a mystery. Their malnourished bodies got no help from the fresh air, sunshine and healthy exercise available on the outside -- remember, these children were shameful cargo of the state, hidden from world view, NEVER allowed to leave the building. Izidor was almost ten years old before he went outdoors and felt the sweet cool grass beneath his feet or the crunch of snow after a winter storm.

I was delightfully surprised to discover that the book is quite well written. The story itself is shocking with a heavy emphasis on the prurient, and yet the street-wise author and his seasoned editor manage to maintain the anticipation of something better, the possibility that life's disruptions may actually contain a secret -- perhaps leading us toward a more mystical purpose...

Jim Quinlan
Editor,The Bottom Line magazine

And then, by some miracle of God, he escaped to America. Adopted by the Ruckel family, he and another child, Izabela, joined three American sisters and began their new life. He endured six serious operations at the Shriners Hospital in San Diego, so he could walk better. He shares with you the challenges he and his family faced when, like many of these children, he got mixed up and went down some wrong pathways.

"I made it through all that darkness because of my awesome family and God's grace," he says.

Romanian child, Izidore Ruckel, now a success

Last year, 20/20 took him back to Romania to view the changes for himself. He says, "Although there is more help, more clothing and medicine, the treatment of the children hasn't changed that much, and the food is still the same - nasty!"

Now he's written his book - Abandoned For Life. In it, he reveals secrets never before shared with the world. His life. His words.

Izidor has dreams and promises to keep. He is determined to succeed, to make his mark in America and in the World. He is also determined to keep his promise to tell the world his true story.

"No one must ever forget."

"...the cost of this book is such a small price to pay to help Isidor reach his dream. I'd like to know that I, in some small way, have played a part in getting those kids out of there. It's the very least I can do!!"

Heather Colman
eBook Palace

It has been my honor to be his editor. I was careful to preserve "his voice." I recommend his book to you. His words will tug at your heart strings. You will be appalled as he reveals how some adult human beings caused such pain to children. But there were Angels of Mercy among the caretakers, some few who tried to make life better inside that prison. Maria, Onisa, Ildi. Izidor counts them among his friends.

When he returned to Romania last year, he also renewed his friendship with the lovely Diana, last seen when they were children and he chased her and his monster faces made her cry. But I shall let him tell you about that!

It is almost unbelievable to me that he has come so far, achieved so much, and has plans for his future. He has Great Plans and Great Goals.

Knowing Izidor Ruckel as I do, now that I have shared his life through his words, I am convinced he has survived for a reason: Izidor is determined to make a difference in this World.

Please buy his book right now. You'll never regret it. By purchasing "Abandoned For Life," you will help Izidor achieve even more success in his most worthy goals.

Thank you from my heart.


A message from Izidor:

I want to thank you for buying this book. All that I have written, every word, is the truth as I remember it. It is sometimes a sad story, but it is never hopeless because there are survivors from these hard times and I am one!

Izidor Ruckel


Purchase "Abandoned For Life"

Abandoned For Life: Romanian orphan survives ordeal

the full story,
illustrated with shocking,
secret photographs

This is an ebook (electronic book) in pdf format to be read on your computer.

$14.97 US

Buy Now

To purchase a print or CD-Rom edition, please click here...

Or you can READ IT FOR FREE.

"Abandoned For Life" has been selected for the US Library eBook project. The complete eBook (PDF format) can be 'borrowed' and read for free, by requesting a copy from your local library and quoting ISBN 0-934334-12-9 from the Follett TitleTales/TitleWave catalog (US libraries only).


More Comments:

“Izidor's book was so inspiring - I felt like I was right there with him. Through his experiences in the state hospital, he showed me that in spite our problems and situations, there's hope. I also gave the book to my 15-year-old daughter to read.”

Lynn Webb
The Valley Chronicle