Still Waiting

>> Monday, December 14, 2009

This is a long overdue update on our adoption process. We’ve finished the hard part of the home-study and we’re now waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the home-study to be finished by the home office. I say finished because we’re not positive what’s taking so long. It was sent to Atlanta two weeks ago and as far as we knew it only needed some signatures before we could move on with the process.

I already made the point in the last post that adoption is all about hurrying up so you can wait some more. I actually just re-read my previous post before writing this one and was somewhat encouraged. I’ll be sure and use this as an illustration next time I’m preaching about the value of journaling.

The waiting thing is expected and we’re getting through it. The bigger issue recently has been related to finances and for that we covet your prayers. We started this process after much prayer and because someone generously provided a large gift to us so that we could begin the process. We had an amount in mind. This person called and wanted to give us exactly that amount. Well, we’ve hit another wall and we’re waiting to see what the Lord does.

Adoption is an expensive process. I’m sure most of you know that already but you might be surprised to find out how many people haven’t given the cost of adoption much thought. Because of the foster care system some have even thought that the adoptive family gets paid to adopt. By the time all is said and done we’ll have needed between 25 and 30 thousand dollars to bring our son (or daughter) home from Ethiopia.

We have another payment due in the near future and it has turned out to be twice what we thought it was going to be. So we’re trusting God to provide. We named the blog, “He Sets the Lonely in Families” because we believe that when it’s all said and done it will be God who has placed this child in our home.


Hurry Up and Wait

>> Monday, November 16, 2009

Erika keeps reminding me to update the Adoption Blog. We’re definitely in a holding pattern right now as we wait for our home study to be rough drafted, redrafted and then final drafted. So the update is: we’re still waiting.

That the adoption process is slow and often uncertain is not new to me. The process of international adoption has just brought a whole new level of things to go slowly. Once the home study is completed then we’ll rush around to move onto the next part of the process and then we’ll wait there for a while.

The key in the waiting is to constantly remind oneself that the child God has for us isn’t going to be skipped over because the process took too long. Years from now when our little guy (or girl) is someone we know and love we definitely won’t be sitting around wishing the home study had come in a week or two earlier. God’s timing will have proven itself to be perfect.



>> Monday, November 2, 2009

According to UNICEF that's the number of orphans in the world. Here's a video to put that number in perspective. It's overwhelming to think about. Every single one of those orphans represents a person created in God's image. Every single one, if adopted into a Christian family could be exposed to a father and mother who could teach them diligently the words of God as they sit, as they walk, as they lie down and as they rise up. Every single one of them has only two possible destinations in eternity: heaven or hell.

How can we think about helping 143,000,000 orphans? The answer is to help one at a time. People do overwhelming things all the time. How do we pay down overwhelming debt? We do it one month at a time. How do we get in shape? We take it one day and one pound at a time.

When I went to seminary I quickly came to understand that I was way behind everyone else when it came to the books that I needed to read. I was overwhelmed by the amount of material I needed to cover just to catch up. But I resovled to do it one book at a time and one page at a time.

I've been asked how adopting one child is going to help the orphan problem. Who am I to think that I can make a difference in such an overwhelming situation? I am convinced that for one child I can make a difference. For that one child I can help in a situation that must seem far more overwhelming than reading books or losing weight.


Home Study Meetings Finished

>> Saturday, October 17, 2009

Last night we completed the third and final meeting in our home study. This represents the end of a long road at the beginning of a long road. This is our third home study. It’s a grueling process in which a family spends weeks gathering documents and jumping through hoops. The state of Georgia demands access to our financial records, our medical records, and our family history. They wanted to know the nature of any 911 calls made from our house. We submitted to hours of questions about everything from how I was disciplined as a child to how we have dealt with our infertility issues. Friends and family members have had to submit letters testifying about our family life. In one week every member of the Cleland household went to the doctor including Maude the cat.

There are various ways one can think of this process. The positive view is that this extensive process weeds out many who shouldn’t be adopting in the first place. If you’re not willing to go to all this effort then maybe you’re not cut out to raise children. When I’m not filling out a 20 page questionnaire or standing in line to be finger-printed for the second time that’s how I think of it. At other times, while going through a check list that feels like it was made up by an undergrad in an entry level sociology course, I’ve begun to wonder if anyone who has ever given birth to a child has ever met every one of these qualifications. Forget sex education in the schools. Just send out a facebook message to every teenage girl telling her that since her cat hasn’t been vaccinated since last July she should avoid any kind of physical contact with her boyfriend.

Thankfully, for the third time, it’s over. And I should say that our case workers in all three cases have been fantastic. For the most part they seem to know that the process is invasive. But it’s the law of the land and so we submit believing that God has called us to adopt a baby.

If you’re considering adoption for the first time don’t be turned off by the home study. It’s a small price to pay. Jesus paid an infinitely higher price so that we could be adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High God.


Transracial Adoption

>> Friday, October 16, 2009

If you pay attention to these kinds of things you probably have noticed the news that a Justice of the Peace in Louisiana refused to marry an interracial couple. In his statement he says that his real concern is for the children. You can read a better commentary than I can provide here.

Obviously this incident is related to our adoption because of the country from which we believe that God has led us to adopt. It would be nice to think that we have come far enough on issues related to the color of one’s skin that this kind of thinking would be behind us. But even in the church there are still those who don’t understand.

I think Justin Taylor has posted a good response on his blog. I especially like his last paragraph:

As long as sin remains—this side of the return of Christ and the ushering in of the news heavens and the new earth—racism will remain. There is virtue neither in overstating or unstating this reality. But the idea of having qualms about transracial adoption (or interracial marriage) because it will create opportunities for more racial prejudice doesn’t ultimately make a lot of sense. As John Piper has commented, “It’s like the army being defeated because there aren’t enough troops, and the troops won’t sign up because the army’s being defeated.”


Psalm 68:6

Erika and I discovered adoption by the great providence of God in September 2005. Since then God has blessed us with two beautiful children through adoption. Now, by God’s grace, we hope to adopt again. One reason Erika and I adopt is that we are infertile. There’s no medical reason that has been found for our infertility. The God we serve has seen fit thus far to close Erika’s womb. Therefore, we believe that He has called us to build our family through adoption. We're not at all sad about this, though. We've grown to love adoption so much that we know that even if Erika became pregnant we would continue to adopt.

If the Lord wills it, there is a little boy in Ethiopia whose life will also be touched by adoption. For reasons that God has chosen not to reveal to us in this life there are children who have been left without a family. Sin in the form of famine, disease and war has left thousands without a mother and a dad to care for them.

The name of this blog is taken from Psalm 68:6, “God sets the lonely in families.” We are beginning this journey believing that God has prepared a child for us to adopt just as He has prepared us to adopt him. None of this will be a coincidence. God knows the family and He knows the child. And He is the One who will place this child in our family.

We would appreciate your prayers as we go through this process. Adoption can be a long road and we are well aware that there can be many road blocks as we go along the way. But we also know that our Father in heaven is a mighty Father who has created all things and to whom all things belong. He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we are able to ask or think.


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