GROVE — Randy and Marcia Cloud have heard the vast array of comments after people learned of their family's journey to adopt a son from an African orphanage.
Their story is quite similar to other parents who adopt a child from a foreign country, but the unusual twist is that they were able to bring their child home in just a little more than three months instead of a process that could extend more than two years.
“We negotiated an alternative approach with the Zambian and United States government that allowed us to complete all the necessary steps in the adoption process,” Randy Cloud said.
Cloud owns and operates a Tulsa investment firm and is known as “Bubba” to several thousand clients across the country who trust him to manage their retirement funds. The same blunt candor, straightforwardness and robust work ethic carried over in his effort to bring a little orphaned boy 9,000 miles to live in rural Delaware County.
“It took 10 weeks from the first time we saw a photo of Kangwa to when we arrived in Zambia to pick him up,” Marcia Cloud said.
The Clouds credit their faith and the Zambian government for speeding up the adoption.
The Zambian fostering period for a child was reduced from one year to 90 days and Kangwa was allowed to live with the Clouds in the U.S. during the foster period.
“We were allowed to complete the adoption and fostering process at the same time,” Cloud said.
The Clouds were successful in petitioning the Zambia government to allow them to bring the 4-year-old boy to America for several weeks as their foster child and then returning to Zambia in October with him for the final adoption.
“We didn't cheat, we didn't bribe, we didn't have an open door,” Cloud said. “We had to bang down the door.”
In addition, the couple had support from Sen. Jim Inhofe. As co-chair of the Senate Adoption Caucus, Inhofe also is a doting grandfather to Zegita Marie, who was adopted by Inhofe's daughter Molly from an Ethiopian orphanage.
The Clouds also established working relationships with U.S. Embassy staff in Zambia and there were two trips to the Zambia embassy in Washington, D.C.
The cost for such an endeavor is around $15,000 to $16,000, although the Clouds adoption expenses were much higher, primarily due to extended hotel stays and meals.
Married for more than 25 years and with four children, ages 10 to 19, Randy and Marcia Cloud wanted more children.
In recent years, the couple's church took on the daunting task of establishing an orphanage in Mufulira, Zambia.
“Most adults don't live past the age of 40,” said Rev. Marty Dyer, pastor at the Newsong Church in Grove. “There are children raising children.”
Knowing the need was great, the small rural congregation of 100 established Green Forest Orphanage.
There are more than 1.5 million orphans in Zambia alone. HIV/AIDS is a major problem. Only about one out of 10 children in Zambia gets proper nutrition and education, Dyer said.
“Most are simply focused on day-to-day survival,” Dyer said.
During a Sunday morning service in April, the congregation was updated on the orphanage, but they also were introduced to a small group of children, the first to live in the orphanage.
On the overhead screen were photographs displayed of beautiful, sweet angelic looking faces. Some children were holding a cloth doll or a toy, others displayed a shy smile, but all had bright, beautiful expressive eyes.
There was a brief video narrated by the orphanage director, Sylvester Kansumba. The camera zoomed around the room and stayed on one boy, Kangwa, for three seconds.
“I thought, he is acting like one of mine,” Cloud said.
That Sunday afternoon, the Clouds agreed to try to adopt the little boy.
“We believed God wanted us to bring this child to live in our home instead of simply sending money to support him until he is an adult,” Randy Cloud said.
It took 10 weeks from the first time we saw a photo of Kangwa to when we arrived in Zambia to pick him up.”
Randy and Marcia Cloud adopted a son from an African orphanage.