Reece’s Rainbow Report #39: Pelc Family

Six years after her husband’s far-too-young death, Starr Pelc was still deeply grieving. Steve had only been 44 when he passed away, and quite simply, she missed him.

One summer in 2006, Pelc’s daughter came home from college and couldn’t help but notice her mom’s mood. Her solution? “You should adopt a baby from China.” 

Pelc was jolted to the past, back to those conversations she had once had with Steve about adopting. Steve himself was adopted, and the couple had always planned on doing so themselves, but she had forgotten about that dream amidst her grief. 

Could she even make such a big leap on her own, without her best friend by her side? 

“I never realized that grief needed to be expressed as more love, especially mine,” Pelc says. “My grief finally had somewhere to go.”

Pelc, already a mother of four, eventually adopted Zoie, a young girl with mild cerebral palsy from China. While waiting to complete Zoie’s adoption, she ran across a photo of “Nani,” a young Chinese girl with Down Syndrome

She’s so cute! Pelc thought. How has no one adopted her yet? 

Three months after Pelc got home with her new daughter and one year after she first saw that photo Pelc checked on Nani’s adoption status, certain she would have been chosen. But no, there she still waited. The childcare provider and preschool teacher learned that four families had inquired about her, but none had stepped forward. 

“God said she was my child and I said no,” Pelc remembers. “I had a list of reasons, one of which was that I knew nothing about Down syndrome and another that I had zero money.” 

But she committed to Nani anyway. Just one week later, the agency informed Pelc that she was too old to be Nani’s mother. 

“I was heartbroken. We all were,” Pelc says. “It felt like a death.”

Thankfully, a social worker at a post-placement visit for Zoie listened to Pelc’s pleas for help. Her case was moved up the chain of command until two weeks later, when she somehow had pre-approval from China. It was a small miracle. So, too, was the way that Reece’s Rainbow helped Pelc fundraise every penny needed for the adoption. 

In 2016, 10 months after committing, Pelc brought home four-year-old Nani, who would now be called Daisy Faith Yu Pelc. She was “quite feral,” Pelc remembers, a result of not being treated well in China. What has God done to my life? Pelc would wonder. 

But six months passed. Pelc finally realized that her life could get better one day and then it did. 

“Once Daisy had love, she knew it,” says her 61-year-old mom. “She thrives in school here in Colorado and has so many friends.” 

Daisy, almost 11, is nonverbal but finds ways to get her point across. She loves books, toy kitchens, her Leapfrog “computer” and iPads. She helps her mom cook and will try anything new. Oppositely, she despises being thrown in the air or being upside down and is hesitant when walking on new surfaces. Pelc a mom of seven after also adopting Ziggy from Ethiopia delights in these “Daisy discoveries.”

“My greatest joy is helping her reach her full potential, whatever that looks like and experiencing what a phenomenal human being she is with no ego, judgment or criticism,” Pelc says. “She is a pure joy, this one.” 

Even so, years of orphanage neglect require time to process. It took two years for Daisy to sign "I love you" back to Pelc or let herself be held and cuddled. Neither did she laugh for the first few years as a Pelc. 

But Daisy’s laughing now and she often passes the favor along.

Once, she tapped a teacher on the shoulder, pointed to the boy next to her, plugged her nose and gave a look of disgust. Her message was clear: the kid reeked. 

Life as a seasoned single mom, however, does not. Pelc only wishes she wasn’t “too old” to adopt again, because she would love to. It’s been that great. 

“Every child deserves a family to love them, a place where they belong and are wanted,” Pelc says. “A place they are missed if they are not there. Someone to have their back and kiss them.”

She still misses Steve, of course, deeply. She jokes that adoption saved her mental health from her cycle of mourning before ruining it again. 

No matter. If the first few acts of her life haven’t exactly been the way she pictured they would be, then who’s to say it should be any different for the latter? 

“The biggest joy is that I have all my ducks in a row, and I couldn't imagine my life without any one of my little adopted ones,” Pelc says. 

Proof that a dream delayed does not mean a dream dead. After all, Zoie, Ziggy and Daisy Pelc can always remember one thing: their dad was adopted, too. 

Crystal Kupper
Crystal Kupper is a freelance writer specializing in magazines and special projects. Since earning her journalism degree, she has written for clients such as Zondervan, Focus on the Family and the Salvation Army, among many others.
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