PINE ISLAND, Minn. (KTTC) – November is National Adoption Month. One family celebrating is the Nelson family from Pine Island.
Finding themselves with extra bedrooms as their older children moved out, Mike and Megan Nelson began welcoming foreign exchange students into their home.
After becoming certified as a foster family, they brought three sisters from Willmar, Janelle, Dayanara and Aliha, into their lives.
“It is a lot of work and you have to understand that I’m in for disappointment, heartache and tough day but the rewards that go along with it make it well worthwhile,” said Mike Nelson.
Their stay soon became permanent.
“We only came in here knowing that it was only going to be three months, just a foster care thing,” said Janelle Nelson. “Now it’s a forever thing. It’s really exciting.”
The Nelsons say that there is a stigma and fear when it comes to fostering teenagers, but they have found that their girls, ages 12 to 17, break the mold.
“We’ve actually found that teenagers, because of what they’ve come from, can also understand and show their thankfulness,” Mike said. “They have a lot of love to give.”
However, there was a transition period.
“We do have a few house rules that are hard and fast,” said Mike. “We don’t bend on them but we’ve had to bend on a lot of things in life to learn how to get along together as a family.”
“I’d say the most hard part was getting used to a mom and dad figure in the house and telling us what to do,” said Janelle.
Used to having a house full of kids, Mike and Megan find that more children is not as stressful as one might imagine.
“We find that the more we have, the easier it gets because everyone is helping each other, supporting each other and loving each other,” said Mike.
So how did their sons Myles and Patrick feel about having three new siblings?
“The two that live here at home still, they think it’s pretty awesome. They think it’s pretty cool. They’re used to us having people in and out and having a large family. Adding more was not a big deal for them at all,” said Megan Nelson. “We have two boys. I think they’ve had a little awakening with girls in the house but they fight like brothers and sisters. It’s all normal teenage stuff.”
Mike and Megan say they are thankful for the Pine Island school system which has helped the girls feel at home in their new community. Now that the girls have settled in, their Cedar Court home now houses a larger and happier family.
“I love that we have a mom and dad finally,” Janelle said. “For our whole lives, we didn’t have one and now we do and they’re awesome.”
“It makes life seem fulfilled when we have a bunch of kids in the house and we have love,” concluded Mike.
There are 10,000 kids in foster care in Minnesota according to the Department of Human Services. If you would like to become a certified foster care parent, contact an agency such as Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, to learn more about the guidelines and training necessary.