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The Jorgensen-Nelson Family

Parents learn to adapt, innovate with seven adopted children

Since she was a high school student, Connie Jorgensen knew she wanted to adopt children with special needs. And it didn’t take much convincing for her husband, Blair Nelson, to agree. 

Between 1995 and 2010, they’ve adopted seven children: Ira, 6, Koda, 12, Elijah, 13, Julia, 14, Sarina, 16, Emma, 18 and LiAnna, 26. 

“Each of our children have their own special challenges and gifts,” said Nelson.

Some of those challenges include parenting children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Reactive Attachment Disorder and histories of trauma. And it has been tough, at times, according to Jorgensen. They sought help through a variety of resources, including the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, MN ADOPT’s HELP program, The Arc and support groups via social media to connect with other families experiencing similar issues.

Resources have improved over the years and “we’ve gotten a lot better at it (parenting),” Nelson said with a chuckle.

“You can’t parent in the traditional way,” Jorgensen said. “You need to reframe your parenting in your head to care for each child differently,” depending on individual needs. “We’ve learned to be very adaptive and innovative.”

The rewards for Jorgensen and Nelson are evident. One is “seeing children who we were told would have very serious limitations or wouldn’t develop to a certain point overcome (their struggles) and mature,” said Nelson. Added Jorgensen, “It’s really exciting to watch them become who they are.” 

The Minnesota Department of Human Services and its partners are looking for adoptive parents who can provide love, guidance, structure and permanent families to foster children, particularly sibling groups and older youth. Currently, 489 children in the foster care system are waiting for adoptive families. 

For those considering adoption; Jorgensen recommends:

  • Research children’s needs; think hard about whether you can effectively parent children with those needs
  • Work as a team if there are two of you raising children; take care of your relationship
  • Seek support when you need it.

Jorgensen and Nelson shared their adoption story at the 2016 Celebrate Adoption: Circus of the Heart event to recognize the adoption of 662 children adopted from the foster care system the previous year and provide information to people interested in adopting children who are still waiting for families.

For more information on the Jorgensen-Nelson family’s adoption journey, check out this YouTube video.

For more information on adopting, check out the Minnesota Department of Human Services adoption and kinship page or MN ADOPT’s website, or call your county social service agency.

Photograph of  The Jorgensen-Nelson  Family
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