Don and Jean
The Pederson household in Pine River, Minn., is sometimes chaotic and often loud, but always full of love – which is not surprising considering Don and Jean Pederson have 13 adopted children, two biological adult children and six grandchildren.
For more than two decades, the Cass County couple has welcomed children in need into their home. Jean said her interest in adoption was well-known by her family when the opportunity to adopt a relative infant first presented itself in 1994. Guided by their faith, the Pedersons have since worked with county social service agencies, non-profit and private organizations to foster and adopt a dozen more children.
“There are so many great kids out there needing permanent homes,” she said, encouraging others to consider adoption. “Kids don’t need perfect parents, they need parents that will love them and nurture them and stand by them no matter what.”
In February 2012, Don and Jean were honored as parent role models during a Parent Leadership Month event hosted by Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota’s Circle of Parents program. They were nominated for the award by their adoption social worker Carmen Haugen at North Homes Children and Family Services in Grand Rapids, which facilitated their latest adoption – a sibling group of four children with special needs.
Jean said some of their 13 adopted children do face challenges, but she said support is available. The Pedersons receive Adoption Assistance through the Minnesota Department of Human Services, as well as Medical Assistance for most of their children. Some of their children also are eligible for Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports and Personal Care Assistance.
“The most rewarding thing is being able to parent all of our wonderful children,” Jean said. “It can be very challenging, and sometimes we may feel unappreciated, but when we see our children grow and flourish, it is all worth it. We feel that this is what we have been called to do, and we wouldn’t want any other life.”