SAN ANTONIO -

When Russian leaders recently imposed a ban on the adoption of Russian orphans by Americans, Troy and Stephanie Cole did the only thing they knew to do to help. They prayed.

"These kids need some sort of hope," Stephanie Cole said. "I don't know what the answer is, but I know prayer works, and that is what I am going to do."

In September, the Coles returned from Russia with their adopted 2-year-old son, Artem. His brother and sister remain in the orphanage northeast of Moscow.

Last week, Russian officials announced they will not allow anymore adoptions by Americans.

The ban is believed to be in response to an effort by the United States to punish Russian for human rights violations.

The Coles said the ban unfairly punishes the orphans and uses them as political pawns.

"They're depriving them of a better life, based on using them as leverage," said Troy Cole.

The Coles, who have four biological children, made three trips to Russia during their 18-month adoption procedure.

"Not only do you develop a bond with the child that you're adopting, with three trips we created bonds with the other kids as well," Troy Cole said.

Often, the children the Russians allow to be adopted are what they consider "special needs" children, though the Coles say that doesn't appear to be the case with Artem. The Coles said Artem is adapting easily to his new family and is learning the English language quickly.

In their visits to Russia, the Coles have developed a heart for the children still in that country.

"By banning us from adopting more children, they're basically giving the children no hope because the Russians don't want them," Stephanie Cole said.

The Coles said their prayer is that the ban will soon be lifted.

To read more stories from Paul Venema, click here.