Category Archives: The Fam

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 News

I mentioned yesterday that there was some news on the adoption front.  As promised I have posted some thoughts elsewhere.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

This morning I decided to dust off the blog and see if the thing still runs.  I had to pull the cord a couple of times to get it to turn over but it started.  I had pretty much decided that I needed to either start blogging again or shut this thing down. 

It hasn’t really been that I have forgotten about the blog.  I think about it from time to time.  The question for me has been, “Do I really have anything worthwhile to say?”  Often the answer has been no.  But I think it will be good for me (if no one else) to try to discipline myself to write something of substance more consistently in the space in this upcoming year of 2011.

I hope to do the same over at the BOMI (blog of more importance.)  Our adoption from Ethiopia has stalled for the time being which is all the more difficult given that we have a little girl with a name and a face whom we would desperately like to bring home.  We  invite you to pray with us that God would providentially move the agencies and individuals in Ethiopia to get all the paperwork necessary so that we can bring our little baby girl home.  It was harder than I thought it would be to spend Christmas with a member of the family in Africa.

In the meantime I hope you’ll start checking here again.  This blog is called “The Savannah Project” for a reason.  The project is still ongoing (in my mind) and I’ll try to do a better job of keeping you updated.  Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go bowl with Erika on the Wii that we got for Christmas.

What’s Next?

There’s a new post up on our Ethiopian Adoption Blog.  Most of the time I write blogs quick and publish them without any proof reading.  But Erika and I labored over this one all weekend.  I’m not a big fan of fund-raising.  I tried it once and it didn’t go well.  But this is different.  There’s a little boy in Ethiopia that we want to bring home and we’re going to need some help to make it happen.

Merry Christmas