Heart for adoption

Posted on 16 April 2014


Story by Ashley Johnson


“I just feel like all children are so precious and a child is a child no matter where their DNA came from,” Janelle Cleveland said.

Cleveland, a mother of three and a writer of invention patents, moved to Bainbridge with her husband Ryan in 2005 and the two have since put down roots and are involved in every corner of the community.

She has a heart for adoption because her all three of her own children were adopted. Because of this she is involved with several local organizations that work with adoptions and foster parenting.

Cleveland had one condition where her husband, originally from Utah, proposed to her in Washington, D.C. — that they would move to the Deep South and never leave.

They found Bainbridge after Ryan went to law school in Macon and found it was close to Janelle’s family in Quincy, Fla.

“We love it here and we would never live anywhere else,” Cleveland said. “It’s the people here that make it so great. The people here are amazing. I have never lived in a place before where they instantly make you feel like you are one of them.”

She said the community as a whole has good Christian values and lives to serve. Janelle and husband Ryan are involved with their church, The Church of Latter Day Saints on Longleaf Drive.

But where Cleveland finds passion in serving is working with children and fostering programs. Cleveland has three children of her own she and Ryan were able to adopt — Grace, 6, Posey, 3, and Blake is 9 months.

“It was one of those things that we didn’t expect that to be our path we took,” Janelle said about adoption. “But we had just tried everything and nothing was working.”

They battled infertility and tried just about every treatment. Finally, she said, the Lord led them down the path of adoption and it has been her passion ever since.

She is on the board for CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, and helped the Little Black Dress fundraiser generate more than $10,000 for foster children in the county. She puts a lot of time in volunteering with the local humane society.

Janelle has fostered children in addition to adopting and it is something she earnestly believes in.

“If you can give them just a little bit of hope and show them what real love is in their life — even if it doesn’t become a permanent thing — you have given that child a gift that hopefully they can remember that love,” Cleveland said. “And maybe they will want to be that kind of parent themselves one day.”

Cleveland also has a vision for what the Bainbridge community will one day grow to be. Because her family lives in a historical home on Shotwell Street, she would like to see the area preserve and take care of its history.

“I live in the historical district so that is something that is important to me,” Cleveland said, “But it’s sad to see historic homes sit empty and year after year they get worse,” she said. “I feel like if you let your historic district go, then your city loses its identity. And then why would people come to Bainbridge if we had no historic homes, no developed downtown.”

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