Last week’s paper reported on the new Gift of Adoption headquarters in Charlotte.

Matthews residents Todd and Cindy Garner know the difference that non-profit groups like Gift of Adoption can make in people’s lives.  The Garner family is comprised of two parents dedicated to creating a family, and their two adopted children, Caleb, 11, and Claire, 9.

The Garner’s adoptions were very different.  They knew Caleb’s birthmother here in N.C., and they adopted him as a baby. Claire was adopted as a six-year-old in the Philippines.  Her adoption cost between $20-25,000 and required months of paperwork and waiting.

They tried to turn in paperwork at the Homeland Security building, but they found out they were not allowed in.  It was due in one week, and they had to mail it.  The paperwork made it on the last day, but was processed a day late.  The Garners contacted their Congressperson, who in turn forced the application through.  The red tape almost delayed them by multiple months and nearly cost them an additional $800.

“Adoption has its own pregnancy, labor, and delivery,” said Cindy.

Claire was born with a cleft palette, and the surgery had some affect on how she forms certain sounds.  She is also learning to speak English, as her native language is Tegalog.  Claire spent the first two years of her life living in a hospital, and the next two years in an orphanage.  The last year she was in the Philippines she lived in a foster home with six other children.  She was six when she joined the Garner family.

“The agency we used for our international adoption was really exceptional.  It was Christian Adoption Services here in Matthews,” said Todd.

“Periodically they have orientation classes for the public and we went to one of those,” said Cindy.  “The adoption agency gave us several website and references to go to if we needed to solicit some help,” and that’s how they found Gift of Adoption, which awarded them $1,500.

“By the time we came down to the end of this adoption – and it was a 13-month long process – you get really weary of the waiting…and dealing with international politics of adoption.  And by this time you’ve already put forth a lot of money.  When Gift of Adoption gave us their check it was a relief because it helped pay for our expenses when our funds were really depleted, and we needed to get to the Philippines to pick her up,” said Cindy.  “We’re just regular people – we’re not wealthy people.”

“For a lot of families I think the hardest part is the money.  Even for people that aren’t looking to adopt themselves they can help other people.  If they think adoption is something they feel strongly about, they can help other people by giving to these organizations like Gift of Adoption,” said Todd.