Michael Cleveland and his wife struggled to have children before deciding to adopt. Now he's sharing the lesson he learned through his music.
Posted in , Mar 22, 2016
“There’s always a new beginning.”
That’s the message in the first major studio album from Stars Go Dim, according to singer Michael Cleveland. Now in stores, the self-titled 14-track effort explores the power of hope in God, despite circumstances. Cleveland discovered the power of hope first-hand.
In the early years of his marriage, the musician and his wife Natalie experienced multiple miscarriages.
“I’ve never had a worse feeling in my life then when those things were happening,” he tells Guideposts.org. “It was just devastating.”
It was also very confusing. There was no reason the couple shouldn’t have been able to carry a child to term. Both young, healthy adults, doctors were clueless as to why Cleveland and his wife continued to miscarry.
In 2012, on their drive back home to Kansas City after spending Christmas with Cleveland’s family in Oklahoma, his wife mentioned an idea the two had talked about while they were dating.
“My wife said, ‘You know, I really think this would be the right time to look at adoption; is that something you’re open to?’ “I was like, ‘Absolutely, I’ve been open to this for years.'"
For the rest of the three and a half hour trip, as Cleveland drove, his wife researched everything she could on the adoption process in their home state. They began taking state mandated classes, meeting other hopeful parents-to-be and forming a community of people to support them on their journey.
“Once a kid reaches three years old, their adoption chances drop significantly,” Cleveland learned while researching adoptions in Kansas. “If they’re a sibling set, [it’s unlikely] they’ll ever be adopted.” Upon learning this, the Clevelands felt called to adopt older children and hopefully siblings.
The pair thought it would be years before they could add to their family, but a few months after they finished their adoption classes, they received a call. Two sisters, four and five years old, needed a home. Their mom had left when the youngest was born and their father was in and out of prison.
On Father’s Day 2013, Cleveland and his wife picked the girls up from the foster home they’d been living in, went before a judge and, the next evening, brought their daughters home to have dinner as a family for the first time.
Adjusting to their new life wasn’t easy.
The girls came from an abusive past where they would often be left for days with no food and no one to take care of them. “We had no idea what we were doing,” the singer said.
At the suggestion of a family therapist, Cleveland and his wife came up with a way to make their new daughters feel safe, loved and in control of their environment.
“We gave them giant Ziploc baggies full of cereal that they could hold on to,” Cleveland says. “With most kids, you give them a giant bag of Fruit Loops and they’re going to just devour it. But the girls never opened it. They were so afraid that the next meal may not come. It just became this security thing for them.”
Cleveland’s wife took one of the walls in the family’s kitchen and turned it into a chalkboard where she planned meals for each day of the week. Once the girls began to trust that the Clevelands would be taking care of them and their meals, they felt comfortable and confident in their new home.
Two years later, the couple learned the happy news that they were expecting a new baby. Fearful that they would miscarry again, Cleveland and his wife held onto the news for months.
“I don’t think I’ve ever prayed like that in my life,” the singer says. “We had gone through this so many times we didn’t want to get attached to a baby we weren’t ever going to see.”
Thankfully they were blessed with a healthy pregnancy and the birth of another beautiful little girl. It’s given Cleveland’s older daughters the chance to truly feel a part of a family unit.
“When we got them, the word ‘family’ had such a bad connotation to them,” Cleveland says. “We don’t really use the word ‘family’ at our house. Instead we talk about being on Team Cleveland, that being on Team Cleveland is a great place to be. There’s no getting off of Team Cleveland.”
And the musician admits, as wonderful as the success of his band and their music is, nothing measures up to the value his “team” brings to his life.
“I’m so appreciative and honored to be out on tour and to get to do the things we’re getting to do,” Cleveland says. “[But] other than Jesus Christ Himself, there is nothing more important to [me] than [my] wife and kids.”