GROVE - Randy and Marcia Cloud’s journey to adopt their son from an African orphanage is typical in most ways. What isn’t so typical is the couple brought their child home in just a little more than three months instead of the 30 months that the process might usually take.
“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.
The same blunt candor and robust work ethic Cloud exhibits as owner of a Tulsa investment firm 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.
In addition, the Zambian fostering period for a child was reduced from one year to 90 days, and the child was allowed to live with the foster parents in the United States, Randy Cloud said.
“We were allowed to complete the adoption and fostering process at the same time,” he said. “We didn’t cheat, and we didn’t bribe.”
In addition, the couple had support from U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and a Georgia couple who helped pave the way, Cloud said.
“Now we have permission to help others,” he said, referring to the process.
The cost for such an endeavor is about $15,000, although the Clouds’ adoption expenses were much higher, primarily because of extended hotel stays and meals.
“We are trying to have programs and housing available so other prospective parents can stay there free, cutting down on the expenses,” Cloud said.
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 Green Forest Orphanage in Mufulira, Zambia.
With more than 1.5 million orphans in Zambia alone because of HIV and AIDS, the need is simply overwhelming, said the Rev. Marty Dyer of Newsong Church.
“For every child we had, we supported an equal number of children in the orphanage,” Cloud said.
During a Sunday morning service in April, a brief video narrated by the orphanage’s director, Sylvester Kansumba, was shown to the congregation.
That little boy caught Randy’s attention and, unbeknownst to him, the toddler’s antics were also catching someone else’s attention.
“I thought, ‘He is acting like one of mine,’ ” Cloud said, chuckling as he recalled that spring morning.
After church, as the family was sitting down for lunch, their oldest daughter, 19-year-old Lauren, who is attending the University of Arkansas, called and said that “we needed to adopt the little boy that was on the video,” he said.
“At first I wondered how she knew about the videotape, then she said Ben (a younger brother) started texting her from church about the child,” Cloud said.
The Clouds’ other two daughters, 17-year-old Katie and 10-year-old Melanie, were also in favor of bringing Kangwa into their family.
“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,” Cloud said.
Rough start in life
Kansumba was foraging through brush, high grass and tree overgrowth on a recently acquired piece of property when he discovered a dirt footpath that led to a dilapidated grass hut inhabited by squatters.
In that hut, living with an alcoholic grandfather, was 4-year-old Kangwa with a protruding stomach because of the lack of food and clean water.
His HIV-positive mother had died. Kangwa’s father did not acknowledge the child, so the child was fending for himself.
When Kansumba gently picked up the severely malnourished child, he noticed he had a skin condition and needed medical attention immediately.
Today, Kangwa shows no health issues. Three HIV tests have all come back negative, Cloud said.
When returning to Africa in October to finalize the adoption, Cloud retraced Kangwa’s mother’s footsteps and saw a lot of gut-wrenching, heart-breaking human suffering.
He said he didn’t understand the family’s decision to place Kangwa with his grandfather. Through an interpreter, Cloud promised the boy’s relatives that Kangwa would be raised as his own son and would be a great man.
“I promised to train him to love God, and we would equip him to go anywhere in the world,” Cloud said.