Category Archives: adoption

Adopting an Older Child

It’s been a while since I’ve written an update about our adoption.  The actual process of adoption is complete but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing interesting going on.  I’d like to say something about adopting an older child.  Once upon a time I was scared to death at the thought of adopting an older child.  When we went to adopt Gus we spent several days visiting with him at his orphanage on our first trip to Ethiopia.  Gus was just a baby but there were tons of older kids running around ranging in age from 3 to the early teens.  They loved practicing their English and playing pretty much anything.

One day as we were leaving the orphanage after a visit with Gus a little girl was leaving for the last time with her new mom. On our way back to the guesthouse we all stopped for lunch.  It was very interesting and fun to watch her experience the outside world.  The kicker was watching her eat ice cream for the first time.  After that I said to Erika, “We’re totally doing this.”

I can’t adequately explain you the joys of adopting an older child.  These first few weeks together have been precious.  This little boy needed a mom and dad so bad.  When we picked him up on that first day he sat close to me silently with big tears running down his face.  In our first few days together he didn’t know that when you get hurt you can cry to your mom and dad and they’ll try to help make it better.  On the one hand he’s strong and self-sufficient and on the other he’ll lay in my arms and look up into my eyes like he’s a newborn trying to figure me out.

This is not always easy.  The language barrier has been tough.  We’re still learning how to care for his special needs.  He’s really particular about where his things go.  And, shocker, he’s everything you would expect a 5 year old boy to be in terms of naughtiness.  He needed a mom and dad…real bad. And there are tons more just like him.  I saw them.  We visited his orphanage and he marched around like he owned the place showing us where he slept and where he played.  There was room after room filled with children with various special needs, sentenced to an institution because they weren’t born perfectly healthy.  As he took us around he told everyone we were Mom and Dad.  He was happy be there to show us around but he was clear that he wasn’t staying.

It took us a couple of days but we did take him for ice cream.  Ice cream parlors aren’t all over the place in China so we had to settle for McDonald’s.  I’m not positive it was his first but he loved it so much his eyes rolled back in his head after each bite.  On the way home he tripped and hurt his knee.  He cried, Erika picked him up and kissed it and we went back to the hotel and cleaned him up.  Ice cream and kisses for skinned knees may seem pretty normal to you but for Archie it’s all still brand new 6 weeks later.


The T-Shirt Sale

I thought it would be good to give a little explanation about this new fundraising project.  One of the biggest roadblocks to adoption is the cost.  It’s hard to imagine coming up with tens of thousands of dollars.  Lots of people have huge questions about the price tag.  But if you’re using a reputable agency (which we are) you can see clearly where every dollar is going.

A reasonable question to ask at this point would be, “How did you plan to raise this much money?”  Our plan has always been to pray and trust God.  But I don’t think we were presuming upon God. I definitely had in mind the way I thought God was going to provide.  When we adopted Gus in 2011 we were able to claim a dollar for dollar tax credit up to $13,000.  Since so many people helped us adopt Gus our plan was always to put that money into another adoption.  We actually filed our amended tax return for 2011 about the same time we started the process of adopting Archie.  That was almost a year ago.


The moral of this story is:  depend on God not on the US government.  You may have heard that the IRS isn’t excited about paying money to conservative causes right now.  Our amended return has been audited and as of the current government shutdown I don’t see us getting our return on this side of 2014.

It’s God’s money and He can direct it where He pleases.  We see this as an opportunity to trust Him through prayer and faith.  His ways are not our ways.  He may choose to move the IRS to process our return.  Or He may not.  In the meantime, we need to raise about $15,000.  It seems crazy but our God distinguishes Himself as a God who demonstrates His glory by providing in the midst of crazy circumstances.

So this t-shirt thing is a way to let our friends know the need.  We need to sell 50 for the project to go forward.  But we’d love to sell 2,000.  Will you help us by praying and sharing the website?  As Facebook continues to decline in use we’re looking for other ways to get the word out.  As always, if you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation (and not receive a t-shirt) you can do so at our Adopttogether site.  Or you can buy a t-shirt here:  Archie Cleland Adoption Fund.

Adoption Update: L.O.A.

It seems like we always receive good adoption news on evenings with good friends.  Monday night after dinner and sweet fellowship we were notified that we had received our Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from China.  Sun Zhang Yu will soon live with us and have all the rights and privileges of membership in the Cleland family.  Conservative estimates have us traveling to China in 10-12 weeks.  If things go well, he could spend Christmas with us.

We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on this long journey.  For months we have prayed for a boy we don’t know.  Not only does he not know us but he doesn’t even speak our language.  Lord willing, in just a few months he will live in a home with two brothers and a sister AND be receiving the medical care he needs.

I thought I knew how God was going to provide for this adoption.  In His providence He has chosen not to work in that way. But to this point God has always provided.  I’ve written checks for thousands of dollars and each time the money has been there.  I have no reason to believe that he will not continue to provide.

We need to raise about $15,000 more for our trip.  We hope to be rolling out a t-shirt fundraiser soon.  Or you can give to our AdoptTogether account and have your contribution be tax-deductible.  As always we covet your prayers.

Adoption Update: We’re DTC

As of yesterday we are officially DTC, or as those who are not familiar with the ever growing list of adoption related acronyms would call it, Dossier to China.  This is especially exciting because pretty soon we’ll start to have a clearer sense of when we’ll be able to travel.  As you can see we received an update on our boy which included a picture and some specifics about his height and weight.  This is all pretty exciting stuff.  I can’t wait to meet this smiley little guy.  As always, if you’d like to contribute to bringing him home to Savannah you can make a tax deductible donation here.
Sun Zhang Yu 5

Fundraising Update

ImageHere’s the latest on our adoption: we’re done with our part of the home study process and we’re waiting for it to be approved by our agency.  Once this happens things will start to progress pretty quickly which means we’ll have some checks to write soon.

 I have an uneasy relationship with the fundraising part of the adoption process.  I do like to say that when it comes to deciding whether or not to adopt, money shouldn’t be a deterrent.  God places children in families.  The money is His.  He can distribute it as He pleases and we saw this over and over again when we adopted Gus.  Every time we needed money we had exactly what we needed.

That being said, I think it is appropriate to let people know that we don’t have all the money we need to finish this process.  In our own personal giving, we sometimes have money to give and don’t know where to give it.   In those cases I always appreciate it when people let us know they have a need.

 We’ve got a couple of things moving forward to help us raise money.  This weekend we’re having a little garage sale on Saturday morning (April 27th) at 140 Summer Winds Drive here in Savannah.  If you’re in the area and have something you’d like to donate, let me know.  Also, drop by and see if there’s anything you need.

Second, we’ve got a t-shirt sale in the works.  We’ve got the design and hope to have some to sell in the next couple of weeks.  Keep checking back here if that interests you.

Finally, if you’d like to contribute there’s always the little paypal button in the upper right hand corner of this blog.  We are SOOOOO thankful for all of the people God has used already to fund our adoptions.  And I know I’m way overdue on writing a post to introduce this little guy.

Can you really pray for that?

I’m still learning to pray. Most of the time I tend pray general prayers rather than specific. At best this is a reflection of my lack of creativity. I’m just not that good at thinking of things to ask for. At worst this is a reflection of my own lack of faith. “If I ask for something too specific and it doesn’t get answered then what?” I love what John 15:7 says I just don’t always pray in light of that promise.

Recently Erika and I were challenged by another family who has adopted. I’ll guarantee you this woman did not mean to challenge us when she told Erika their story of adopting from China. But the Holy Spirit used it like a sledge hammer in my heart. A few years ago they adopted a little boy with special needs from China. They had the audacity to pray that their little boy would have significant contact with other people in his orphanage. They prayed he would be held, hugged and loved. This is no insignificant thing in a Chinese orphanage. Plus, they prayed that he would have already heard the name of Jesus. THEN, they prayed that he would be familiar with the English language.

Do you see what I mean about creative, specific praying? My prayer that God would help us bring him home soon pales in comparison to the way these people are coming before their Father in heaven specifically on behalf of their little boy!

So they get to China, pick up their boy and can’t figure out how to make him eat. For a couple of days their struggling until one afternoon an American woman walks up to them and asks is that “_______” from such and such orphanage? Why yes it is. They talk about their problem with the woman who then goes out and buys exactly what the little guy likes to eat from the local Wal-Mart. (Who knew they had Wal-Mart over there?) You can probably see where this is going.

They soon discover that this American young woman had moved to China to serve in THAT orphanage. She is a Christian. She had been holding, singing to AND telling their little boy about Jesus. Oh, AND because of her influence he understood some English.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
John 15:7

We are working to change how we pray. I know this doesn’t count as creative (is there some kind of plagiarism rule when it comes to prayers?) but I’ve started praying the same thing. I’m praying that our boy is being loved and sung to and that he’s heard about Jesus. And I’m even praying that he’ll know a little English.

Adoption Update

This weekend I realized that I really needed to do a follow up post on our adoption. Thus far we’ve been mired in the paperwork part of the process. I know some people are overwhelmed by the cost of adoption. Honestly, I find the paperwork to be the most daunting task. There is a mountain of documents to be filled out, notarized, checked, rechecked and mailed.

I don’t mean this to sound all super-spiritual, but I depend on God for the money. Unfortunately, I have to depend on the government bureaucracies to help me get most of these documents. Prayer beats an automated phone system any day.

So here’s the update: we mailed a stack of papers on Friday. This isn’t everything but it’s a big step forward. We have a picture of a little boy in an orphanage in China. Every day our dossier isn’t finished is another day he has to wait before he comes home.

As you continue to pray you can ask God to get these documents onto the desks of people who will move them along quickly. Right now we’re dealing with offices in 3 states. You can also pray that God will continue to provide the money we need. Thus far, we’ve had every dime we’ve needed.

I’ve got some big plans for blogs over the next few days. We’ve got some other specific things we’re praying for. We’ll also be sharing some more specifics about the little guy soon. So keep checking back. And if you happen to work in a government office and you’re responsible for filling requests for birth certificates and marriage licenses, keep in mind that some little kid thousands of miles away may be waiting on YOU so that he can come home to his forever family.