Adoption ban pulls on my heart

by Crystal Kupper,
Crystal’s Cliffnotes
Salem Writer

The women all chatted excitedly, gently touching my bulging stomach and firing away questions: How are you feeling? Does she move a lot? Do you think she’ll be here early or late? What do Jack and Jude think?

Aunts, cousins, friends, mentors and relatives brought in gift after gift, beautifully wrapped and adorned with words of love and anticipation…Avinly doesn’t know how much she is loved yet, not just by me and Nick, but by an entire community — or perhaps she does.

The next morning, as per my routine, I checked Colt’s profile. Colt is a 5-year-old boy living in a country famous for its orthodox church buildings, nesting dolls, furry ear-flapped hats and vodka. Specifically, he’s from an area that’s known for its white tigers and harsh prison system. That in and of itself wouldn’t be so bad. But Colt is different than the rest of the little boys and girls his age. He has Down Syndrome. And therefore, he was given up at birth and put into an orphanage. Soon, he will be transferred to an adult mental institution where he most likely will be deposited into a crib and left there until he dies.


Colt had the chance to be adopted by a foreign family. But on January 1, with the stroke of a pen, some political hotshots sealed his fate and thousands of others just like him when they signed an adoption ban by any foreigners.

I know about Colt because of the organization that listed him for adoption: Reece’s Rainbow. I volunteer for them, praying for Colt’s rescue every day and advocating for his release from his prison in any way I can.

But now, instead of the usual website statistics about how much money had been raised to pay for his adoption, I saw this message:
** This child is in a country that is currently not accepting new commitments.  We can no longer accept grant donations or inquiries for this child, but we have not given up on any of these children and encourage all of our Prayer Warriors to continue their efforts!  All grant funds shown below are intact and still with this child at this time.   When and if this country program re-opens for adoptions, we will relist this child and begin seeking an adoptive family immediately.**

So that’s it. Unless God moves mountains and melts stubborn hearts, Colt will die an orphan — all because he has an extra chromosome.

After re-reading the paragraph, I glanced over at the mountain of gifts for my Avinly. And it seemed so wrong, wrong, wrong. Not that my sweet girl is being celebrated; that is entirely appropriate. But because a boy who could easily have been my own son (Jack and Colt are the same age) is being denied the basic right of a mommy and daddy over some stupid political mind games. (Google “Magnitsky Act” for more info).

That night, Jack prayed his usual prayers. But this time, without any prompting, he turned to me mid-sentence. “Mom, what if no one comes for Colt? What if no one feeds him? Will he get sick and die if no one adopts him?”

My tongue stuck in my throat. I couldn’t tell him about the grim statistics saying that as many as 95% of children with Down Syndrome die within one year of being transferred to the adult mental institutions. That that’s precisely where Colt is being moved sometime this year.

That Jack himself will grow up in a world that so often devalues children, especially when they are not “perfect.”

I hugged my son and answered as honestly as I could. “I’m not sure,” I said. “But we can always pray that God will send someone to take care of him.” And in words only an innocent 5-year-old boy can utter, that’s exactly what Jack did.

Understatement of eternity: this world is imperfect. There are no easy answers as to why Avinly is lucky enough to be born to a wonderful family with a solid marriage, income, education and values but why Colt wasn’t. (And actually, sometimes even that isn’t enough. One of my adoptive friends recently welcomed a daughter with DS from Colt’s country whose mother is a LAWYER).

As I crawled into bed, both sad and happy, a picture hit me: Nick and I as teenagers. We were 17 and so in love. Every time we parted felt like a dagger to the gut, making us stretch out our goodbyes — even the ones where we knew we’d see each other the next day — to ridiculously long amounts of time.

As Nick held me, he’d tip my chin up to look at him. His green eyes shot right through me, and I shivered. My entire soul was laid bare in front of him. It was as if he could see every last bad thing I had done, and he loved me anyways. I had never felt so vulnerable in front of anyone in my life.

Often, that gaze was so pure — so intense — that I would have to look away. I just couldn’t take the amount of absolute love zinging toward me, linking me to this man-child forever in ways that I still don’t understand.

Of course, my life wasn’t perfect then, and it’s not now. But for a moment, I had been given a glimpse of heaven, where every soul is loved, cared for and whole, free of the wounds of this world.

Yet that love I felt and feel from Nick is nothing compared to what God feels for Colt.

I will never stop fighting the bonds of injustice; it’s my calling in life. I will keep praying for a miracle in Eastern Europe, and I hope you will join me. There are no easy answers, and often what mankind does to itself and its smallest members straight-up bites and shreds the hearts to bits.

So until Colt feels that same gaze of pure adoration for simply being who he is  — whether in this life or the next — I will rest on the fact that though I may not know the answers, my heart and soul belong to the One who does.

And so do Colt’s.

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