One of my primary responsibilities as Ministry Outreach Coordinator at Carolina Hope is to help Christians increasingly think about orphan ministry and adoption from a theological perspective. Carolina Hope has commissioned me to explore and articulate the beautiful gospel-connection between uppercase Adoption (i.e. God’s gracious adoption of us) and lowercase adoption (i.e. our adoption of a child) so that Christians become more firmly grounded in the gospel and grow in their understanding of its profound implications for all of life. We are committed to helping Christians in general and both prospective and adoptive families in particular think theologically about all things adoption. We believe that this interview series will help us accomplish this.
Our most recent adoptive parent interview is with Pam Olson. She and her husband, Mark, are members of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis, a church that is passionate about adoption to the glory of God. Pam is the mother of a beautiful multi-ethnic family.
1. Tell us a little about your family.
We have five children. Our first two are biological and the other three were adopted. They were all domestic adoptions, but came from different states. Two of our children are African/American and one is Indian. Two of them are children with special needs.
2. What initially motivated you to adopt?
When my husband and I were first married we talked about our desire to adopt. I always wanted to have a large family. I cared for children who were adopted when I was in high school and college and as I heard stories of children in need of families, I knew that I wanted to adopt as many as the Lord would allow me. I am thankful that God gave me a husband that understood my heart for adoption and has taken on that vision for himself as well.
3. What kind of responses have you received from extended family and friends about your decision to adopt?
Our extended family has not said much to us about adoption, except for their concern about the size of our family. We are a part of a church community, however, that fully supports us in this vision and many of our friends have adopted as well.
4. How do you think the gospel should influence the decision to pursue adoption?
I believe that the gospel should be the central influence in the decision to adopt. This is because adoption is the heart of the gospel. Ephesians 1:3-6 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” The fact that God chose to adopt me into his family gives me the motivation to, by his grace and guidance, adopt the children that he has chosen for us into our family.
5. How is the gospel shaping your relationship with your adopted children?
It is a beautiful thing to explain to our adopted children that before they were even born, God chose me to be their Mommy. God chose to give us three beautiful gifts through adoption. And just as he chose each of them to be a part of our family, he also has chosen many people to be a part of his family. As we talk about what Jesus did for us on the cross, we show them the privilege we have to be a part of God’s family if we choose to follow him.
6. How have you sought to help your adopted child understand the gospel better through his/her adoption?
We love to tell each of our adopted children the story about how God brought them to our family. This is always an opportunity to thank God for bringing us together and acknowledging his design for each of our lives.
7. Did you or do you have any fears related to your adopted child’s future as a member of your family? If so, what were/are they and how have you sought to apply the gospel to those fears?
God has been very gracious to give us the faith that we need at the time we needed it. As we have learned more about the possible future of each of our special needs children, we realize that God blinded our eyes to things that we would not have had faith for at the time. But, as he has helped us to learn more and depend on him more he has shown us more of what the possible future may hold for our family. Because we have seen his guiding hand in directing each of our children to us, it helps us to trust in his loving care for those things that may seem unsure.
With each of our children we have a story of how God gave us confirmation that we were to adopt them. If you would like to hear these stories, let me know. I hope these answers have been helpful to you. May God enable you to inspire many people to follow his call to adopt.
What a blessing Pam- that God only allows us to see what we need to know in a given situation so that we can step forward in faith. He doesn’t give us information we don’t need, details that might cause us to doubt His plans for building families in a perfect way. He doesn’t work with ‘perfect people’ since there are none, but he weaves us into a beautiful tapestry of life. You already know, special needs = Special blessing.
Thanks for posting this interview Dan and for writing it Pam.