An Unexpected Journey to Adoption
The Piersons’ story

Nicole Pierson and her husband, Nels, live in Rochester and have expanded their family through adoption during the past several years. “Adoption wasn’t the result of not having kids of our own. We decided if we wanted to grow our family, we’d adopt,” explains Nicole. 

Deciding to adopt

Nicole and Nels have been married about 24 years and have two biological children, Sonja, now 20, and Nels (Charlie), now 18. Nicole, architect and owner of Nicole Pierson Design, is from Rochester. Nels, originally from southwestern Minnesota, is a realtor at Edina Realty and has been an elected official in the past.

Pierson explains that they had been parenting for a bit when they decided to adopt. “We loved having kids. We felt there was a need, and our best understanding at the time was that [adoption]was how we could help,” shares Pierson.

The unexpectedly long road to adopt

When they began the process to adopt their second son, Mardoche, in 2013, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), they had no idea the journey to bring him home would end up taking three-and-a-half years due to many factors they couldn’t have predicted that caused delays in the process. “There were geopolitical issues in the DRC. They shut down adoptions,” remembers Pierson. The Piersons and Mardoche waited for the situation to change. Pierson says, “We realized we had little control. We had faith it was going to work out in the end.”

Mardoche had faith too. “There was a lot of waiting. They visited me in the DRC once. I couldn’t believe it. I felt at home with them and connected with them and my brother right away. It gave me hope.”

Pierson says, “A high was being able to meet Mardoche in the DRC. He and Charlie had a bond right away.”

The Piersons were able to bring Mardoche home at last in 2016, at age 9. “God blessed me with another family, and I was very thankful. They treated me like their own, and I was very happy,” says Mardoche.

Rendering of Pierson familyUnexpected delays while adopting from the DRC again

In 2018, after trying to adopt through foster care for two years, the Piersons heard about the opportunity to adopt their third son, Finn, now 6, from the DRC. Pierson recalls, “Someone posted a photo of Finn in a Facebook adoption group.” They decided to look into adopting him.

Although the adoption process in the DRC went quickly, the process to bring Finn home unexpectedly took nearly six years. This delay was because of many factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the embassy shutting down for several months. During that time, Pierson says, “A high was being able to FaceTime with him and see his photos since he was a baby.” Then, on December 31, 2023, Finn arrived home in Rochester to join the Pierson family.

Adopting a child in the U.S.

A few years ago, a connection of the Piersons, an attorney in Texas who worked with women, reached out to the Piersons about a possible domestic adoption. After going through the adoption process, they adopted their fourth son, Aiden, now 3, in 2020.

A surprising journey for the Pierson family

“The view of what my family would look like changed over the years and surprised me,” reflects Pierson. “This is who we are.” ::

About Author

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Alison is a writer and editor living in Rochester, Minnesota, with her two dogs and her cat.

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