How about a bit of an informal introduction for those who don’t know us. We are the McCloud’s, my husband Casey is our fearless leader, head bread winner and my favorite forever and always. Our daughters Taylan (9) and Chole (6) keep this unschooling mama on her toes. Colton and Mackie are our loyal road dawgs (see what I did there) and then there’s me. I am Raquel, the wordsmith behind https://www.instagram.com/mccloudlife/. I can’t say that I have a niche unless life is a niche. I love to write and share raw and authentic life and for us that includes a few big topics that fit within specific communities. One of those communities is nomadic tiny home dwellers, we sold our acre of land and 1,200 sq ft brick house to call our 38’ pull behind home. Unlike a majority of this community though we are attached to my husband’s job. As a union laborer (hopeful welder) we set up camp wherever they send us. Nearly 2 years in and we have called Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan home, as well as a campground in our hometown of Cookeville, TN. So, while tiny living is one aspect of our adventure it isn’t the only or our most important. I think my voice shouts loudest for choosing hope despite poor circumstances and adoption.
I have a very unique perspective of adoption and before we talk about our current journey I want to share what got us here. For those unfamiliar with the adoption community we have a symbol called the adoption triad. It’s a triangle with each side representing a piece of that relationship- adoptee, adoptive family and birth family. A heart encompasses the triad representing the love woven throughout. Although adoption was not the chosen word it describes the relationship between my grandparents and I. My parents were a little self absorbed and struggled with addiction and as a result my pa and granny stepped in to raise me. After they gained custody at two years old my mother walked away, I’ve not seen her since. To make a long story shorter I will cut through the details to say my teenage years found me filling voids with alcohol, drugs and boys. My wild lifestyle came to an abrupt halt at 14 when a pregnancy test read positive. I share frequently about my adoption journey as a birthmother and how that decision was the hardest choice I’ve ever made. I share about our amazing relationship, her incredible parents and my own joys and struggles as I’ve navigated these somewhat uncharted waters. It’s the least talked about side of the triad, followed by the adoptees and then adoptive parents being the most celebrated. It’s a personal calling to both expose and celebrate this title, what led me here and be a voice of relatability for those who need it. So at this point that leaves one side of the triad and yes, I’ve experienced it as well. Adoptive mom. Our littlest blessing was adopted. Nothing about our life has been conventional and her adoption story is no different. We had physical responsibility of her by 4 weeks, legal custody by 4 months and finalized her adoption at 4 years old, just 3 months shy of her 5th birthday.
This was all before selling our traditional home and packing our life, all of our belongings, 2 big humans, 2 tiny humans and 2 furry companions in a camper. This was before we ditched a stationary address, before we pulled away from the only town our kids have ever lived in and before we walked away from the “American dream” to pursue our own. I can say that adding to our family through adoption was not on our radar. Casey and I have struggled with infertility for nearly 9 years now and were making peace with our inability to grow our family. His career isn’t slowing down anytime soon and while many choose to travel for a set time this is our plan for the foreseeable future.
How? When? Where? Why? Casey and I lost religion and found God early in our relationship so our faith has been an important factor for most of our married life. It’s what guided us into taking in our youngest. Had we stopped to count the cost, both mentally and financially we would have likely declined. My faith is what gives me a bold voice to share my story as a survivor of sexual abuse, verbal abuse, addiction, promiscuity and redemption. Our faith is what led us here.
Casey took a winter layoff and we headed to our hometown to visit with friends and family that we hadn’t seen in months. Shortly after arriving I caught wind of the news. A friend I had spoke to years prior about opening an adoption center in town had finally seen her prayer materialize. I immediately secured a meeting with her to offer my story and my time. I was willing to speak on adoption, talk to birth mothers, hopeful adoptive moms, whatever I could do to help advocate for all sides of the adoption triad. I left that meeting feeling a tug. When I got home Casey and I discussed it and nearly instantly felt the same thing placed on our hearts … we were being called to adopt again.
Every state has different adoption laws so the first thing we did was contact the adoption agency to ask if our nomadic lifestyle would put up an immediate roadblock. After what seemed like an eternity we were given the green light. They had spent nearly 2 weeks pouring through law books and found NOTHING that said a traveling family couldn’t adopt. So honestly and truly, thats the BIG secret … ask! I think so often we seal our own fate before we ever take the first step because we are afraid the answer will be no. And perhaps in some cases it will be, but a “no” leaves you no worse off than wondering what the answer could have been for the rest of your life. If I’m being honest, we wholeheartedly expected the answer to be no. We were hopeful yet reserved and completely surprised by a strong and hearty ‘YES!”
The next steps looked like they would have for any hopeful adoptive family with one exception. We had to stay stationary until our home study, finger prints and the other mountains of paperwork were complete. A ridiculous amount of paperwork, like an INSANE amount of paperwork ya’ll! I think we were most nervous about our home study though. We knew this would look different to our caseworker and was unsure how she would perceive this tiny space that we so lovingly call home. I think the most important part of this journey is transparency and honesty. We didn’t try to overcomplicate or paint an unrealistic picture of what our tiny home and lifestyle looks like. Our kids do share a small space. We don’t value an abundance of toys. We co sleep and cuddle, baby wear and cloth diaper. We do not believe we need a 2,000 sq foot house for a toddler to take his first steps in when we can give him a whole wide world of open expanses, soft grass and gritty sand. We don’t need space for a high chair, changing table, crib or swing. We live fully and love wholly within this space and that is all we need. Materialistically there is a checklist but it isn’t as strict as you might think. Our kids bunk room has 2 beds and a table that converts into a third bed. That third bed option was key. To pass a home study, at least in Tennessee every child needs to have their our bed, not bedroom thank God, just their own bed. We have that. We also have two kids that are happy and healthy and have flourished in this lifestyle for nearly two years now. At the end of the visit it was confirmed that we passed!
Since sharing our current adoption journey I have had so many people ask HOW we could possibly pursue adoption while living nomadically and in a camper. There are so many families who have left suburbia to experience a more intentional life. Less things do not mean less dreams and for many, adoption is one of their dreams. I am no expert in the legalities and cannot possibly advise you on what is best for you and your family but if you feel called to adopt while living a non traditional life I urge you to contact an adoption agency within your home state and start the conversation. Whether the answer is yes or no it is far better than living the rest of your life wondering, “what if?”
P.s. If you would like to support our adoption we have a t-shirt fundraiser running through March and have set a crazy goal to sell 1000 shirts! The design was created by a sweet friend in response to our vision of what this new chapter of life means to us. We view life as a grand adventure and this is another chapter for our epic quest to live fully, intentionally, and embracing every simple moment.