Adoptive Awe

I was raised in a town of 1,000 or so people. What were the chances the two families I spent the most time with, other than my own, had children by adoption? In any case, I rarely thought about that question. The kids’ adoptive status wasn’t an issue for them, so it wasn’t an issue for me.

Jump ahead to a Saturday evening in December of 2000. The phone rings. It’s a friend who lives a few towns away. “I know of a baby girl who needs a home,” he says. “Are you interested in adopting her?”

At the time my wife Heather and I weren’t actively looking to adopt, although we had started to discuss the possibility more seriously. We prayerfully concluded that, if that call had come from out of the blue, it came from the blue of heaven.

A few phone calls later, we had an appointment set up with the birth mother. We were to meet her the next day. Twenty-three hours later, on a quiet Sunday afternoon, there we were, holding little Felicity — great happiness indeed! — a beautiful, 2-week-old baby girl. A few months later she was officially our daughter, an incredible gift from God and the birth family.

Now jump ahead nearly five years later, to August 2005. We are holding another newborn baby girl. A year before, we had started the adoption process. It was long and drawn out but, at long last, we received the call we had been waiting for: “A birth family has chosen you!”

The meeting with the birth parents went perfectly. Everything was set. We visited the hospital a few times and spent time with the baby. That Sunday morning we went to pick her up and take her home. The only thing to be done was for the birth mother to sign the final papers. We waited. And waited some more. The lady from the agency came in and out, increasingly apprehensive. Then the crushing news: The birth mother had decided not to sign.

That dark Sunday afternoon, we had nothing to hold on to — except the belief, grounded in Scripture, that there must be a reason: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). But why would God allow this to happen? What had we done to deserve this?

The answer came three weeks later. Again, a phone call, this time from another state, from a family we’d never met before who had heard about us. They were the guardians of their little nephew and had decided it was best for him to have a new home and family.

A few days later we stood at Mass with the family. Our visit had been wonderful and the little boy took an immediate liking to my Heather, Felicity and me. As the priest uttered the words of consecration, my wife held the boy in her arms. We would soon go forward to receive the Son of God, the Son who became man so that men could become sons of God — by adoption.

That bright Sunday afternoon, we held the baby boy who is now our son: Gavin Olson. And our bodies contained the Son who became a baby out of love for us. Why would God allow this to happen? What had we done to deserve this?

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Carl Olson is editor of

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.