Defective Child

“Why would you want a defective child?” The judge asked the American couple seated in a Russian courtroom.

Heroes come in many forms, perhaps none more inconspicuous than Clark. Imagine a cross between the guy who installs software on your PC and a cool musician in a Nashville Honky-tonk. A big guy with a full beard and thick-rimmed glasses, Clark’s flannel-shirt demeanor invites you to come over and have a beer with him and maybe he’ll throw a steak or two on the grill.

When I met him I asked, “How many kids do you have?” A few minutes (and many questions) later I was inside a Russian courtroom as he and his wife endured the last important step in the grueling 2-year process of adopting a little girl with Down syndrome. Reluctant at first, once you get Clark going he tells a masterful story. As he spoke, I found myself standing outside a dreary, state-run institution; one of many where children like his daughter Evan are cared for. They are warehouse-like buildings and in many cases you don’t want to know about the conditions inside.

“Well? The Judge waited…”Why a defective child?”

Clark carefully chose his words as he responded. “Our daughter is not defective; she’s got an extra chromosome. She can love and be loved like anyone else.” Hero. Case closed.

After hearing Clark’s story, I thought about this legal battleground: An attorney representing the best interest of the child, a Russian Judge who refers to her as “defective,” and perhaps heaviest of all — the old guard communist mindset that says a kid is better off in a government-run institution than with a family. I figured I just met the person I’d want on my side; the one who saved a little girl.

Tonight, Evan is home. And love is doing what love does.

Heroes; they come in many forms. Maybe it’s an inconspicuous man with a great laugh, a beard and an earring.

And maybe it’s you.