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Friday, September 26, 2008


Barb Szyszkiewicz, sfo

That is heartbreaking. All of your family, little Elanor and her birth parents will all be in my prayers.


You and your wife saved Elanor's life and made her strong. May God continue to protect this beautiful girl and comfort your grieving hearts.

Gail F

Carl, how heartbreaking and unbelievable. I can't imagine what you are going through.

Several years ago in our area, an adoptive couple carried on a multi-year legal battle over their son, whose parents claimed him and were able to win their suit because of a technicality -- something about a paper being signed or not signed at the right time. They had adopted two of this boy's natural siblings, and the birth parents contacted to initiate the third adoption. The adoptive couple were clearly better parents, but rather than returning the child when he was about a year old they carried on the fight until the boy was three or four. When the birth parents won he had to be removed from their home and there was no question of how devastating that was to him. You did the right thing, as wrenching and devastating as it was to you and Elanor. I will pray for you and your family and Elenor and her parents. The situation you described doesn't bode well, but all things are possible with God. You've done all that you can do on your own, and sometimes all you can do is leave things in His hands.


i'm praying for you and for your family, carl. and also for elanor and her birth parents. may the Holy Family bring their love to you.


I don't know why God brought Elanor into and then out of your lives. But I do know that without you and your family Elanor might not even be alive today. It sounds like she was a very sick little girl. God bless you for the care you gave her. I hope and pray that her birth parents become wonderful and caring parents for Elanor.


Carl, you might call the Oregon State Bar and report that the lawyer represented both you and now the parents. I see a possible ethical violation.


As an adoptive parent, my profound sympathies and prayers are with you. There is no rational meaning for this episode, nor for the millions of children worldwide who suffer for no other reason that their birth parents were tragically unable to be real parents.

Stephen J.

Mr. Olsen:

This is a terrible thing to go through. I will pray for you and your family.



God bless you and your dear family in this time of great suffering and searching God's will.

Your selfless welcoming of this little soul into your life and heart is so precious and quite possibly saved little Elanor's life. Perhaps that is the meaning in this tragedy...a little girl has a chance at life and a future because of the love and nurturing lavished upon her for a few brief months within your home. Thin comfort, but sometimes we must grasp what's available. Know that you and your family are in my prayers at this very moment. I pray for the safety of Elanor, that the loving example you and your good wife provided in parenting her will inspire the birth parents to love this little one sacrificially, rather than selfishly. May God grant you peace...

Gail Callahan

Carl, Thank you for having the courage and faith to share your story. You and your family and little Elanor will be in my thoughts and prayers. Please find comfort that many hold you and your family in their hearts.

Terry Carlino

I know its small consolation, but it sound to me Elanor would not now be alive if she had not been given to your care. Perhaps that is the reason God saw fit to grace your life with her for just a little while.
You, she and her parents will be in my prayers.


I'm so sorry to hear this story. I'm an adoptive parent and couldn't imagine this sort of pain. I'll say a prayer for Elanor and all who love her.

Francis Beckwith

Dear Carl:

You are in our prayers.



My heart breaks for you. You and yours have been on the cross. Our dear Blessed Lord wll provide you with all the graces you need. I am praying for all involved.

Margaret Catherine

Have mercy, Lord, and hear our prayers - for Elanor, the Olsens, and her birth parents.

Ray Clemons

May the God of all mercy and compassion be with your household. May the Holy Spirit wipe your tears.


God bless you and Elanor, born on my fiftieth birthday.


Your situation is very difficult, as is the situation of Eleanor's parents.

But, everyday in family courts throughout the United States children are taken from loving parents due to divorce. The Catholic Church welcomes these criminals who seek/win these terrible injustices and destroy their children as well as the spouses they abandon, rather than banishing them when they refuse to reconcile with their rightful spouses. The Catholic Church encourages their crimes.

I have been living what you experienced since 1989 and have watched the Church encourage my loss of rights as a father, as a husband and as a human being.

I am, indeed, almost moved to tears by this story you have written but I rarely cry these days. I already shed unending tears for our five children as I watched them be raised by a man sleeping with my wife and being received into the Catholic Church as his reward and saw how little two decisions from the Roman Rota, upholding the validity of our Sacramental marriage, really meant until now, I am a former Catholic.

I will try to remember all of you in my prayers. But you got off far lighter than any of us who have experienced the "love" of the Catholic Church and our spouses. Perhaps you should pray for us and those like us. The Catholic Church certainly does not care for all the words it wastes on the subject.


Whew! Carl, you have my prayers.

Mary in CO

Your loving care for Elanor will be with her for her entire life. Will keep your family, and the birth parents in prayer -- and most of all, Elanor. What a sweetie she is!


Heartwrenching event that only serves to drive home that we are only on loan to one another, that someday we will all have to say goodbye to each other in one way or another. My heartfelt sympathy to you; you are in mourning right now.


We brought both of our adopted children home from the hospital, and held our breath for the seemingly eternal months it took for the "process" to complete and the papers to be signed. The fear of having to endure what you're now enduring was bad enough. I'm so sorry to hear that you and your family and Elanor are suffering through such a terrible experience.

Why God allowed this is, as you say, something we can't even fathom. But, in the months that you had her, you were able to provide healing for her physically, and even more importantly love that she may not otherwise ever have experienced. She also now has hundreds, if not thousands of people praying for her. Your love for her has, and will continue, to bear fruit. Thank you for all you have endured and continue to endure for this little one. She has, and will continue, to benefit from your love.

You, your family and Elanor are all in our prayers.


I know it does no good to point fingers or place blame any more at this point, but this sad story is more evidence for my belief that open adoption is a very bad thing. More adoptions have come to an incomplete end and/or have resulted in the birth parents wanting the child back because of it. In the "good old days," the identity and financial/social means and background of both sets of parents were kept confidential for exactly this reason: a fresh start for all involved - no one could mull and obsess over what anyone in the scenario said or looked like or appeared to be motivated by or believed in. I don't care what the "experts" now say about open adoption, it's just bad news.

Carl E. Olson

I don't care what the "experts" now say about open adoption, it's just bad news.

Thanks for the comments, Charlotte. I'm not an expert or an "expert," but as an adoptive parent who is experienced with open adoptions, I do have some opinions gained through living with the reality of open adoption. I think the matter is much more complicated than you indicate. Put as simply as possible, I think that each adoptive situation is unique and cannot be easily addressed by saying, "Open adoption is bad" or "Open adoption is good." And, to be clear, our situation with Elanor didn't go bad because it was to be an open adoption; it turned out the way it did because the birth parents changed their minds. What you might be saying, in fact, is that you believe private adoption is a bad thing. If so, I would also disagree with that stance.

Regardless, we have an open adoption arrangement with our daughter and a closed adoption situation with our son. We are convinced that those were the right choices; the open adoption has been an exceptionally good, positive experience for everyone. Since our daughter is Hispanic and we are Caucasian, it has been helpful in explaining why she has beautiful brown skin while we are pasty white. :-) The closed adoption with our son was necessary and best for a number of reasons; an open adoption was simply not an option. As I say, it really does come down to the particular situation, which requires some difficult choices by the adoptive parents.

M Jordan Lichens

I had many chances to see Elanor with the loving family that is the Olsen clan and can't imagine her not being at that little household with Carl's two other wild and much lovable kids. My prayers are with you, as they've always been, and I feel blessed to call friends this entire family who has poured love out to so many. I know not what good God will work out of this.

St Augustine states that man is not defined by camaities that befall him but by his response to them. You have defined yourself well and I know you'll continue to do so. My love and prayers to you and everyone else!

NW Clerk

Very, very heartbreaking and heart wrenching. But I have to agree with Gene. And many, many, many people were raised by teen parents who loved them and did a good job. It is too bad -terrible - that it took them several months to get their heads around the new life God sent them, but maybe better later than never. Maybe it was a gift from God to them, and this is JOYOUS news. A family has been reunited! A family has been resurrected thanks to you! You were the blessing they needed to get the baby healthy and to care for her while THEY suffered, and you will be richly rewarded. If the situation were reversed, and it was you who needed time to decide, you would have fought tooth and nail for your own flesh and blood. If the day ever comes that you can back up from this, maybe you will see that; maybe you will put yourselves into the parents' shoes. It is heartbreaking that the baby had to be carried away crying, but the assumption that she fits into the group of people who "suffer and die" may be wrong.

The parents are not just "DNA" donors. The mother carried that baby for nine months; they cared for her for three months; it is their child. You had the privilege to help her along the way. If only you had looked at the teens - God's children too - with the same selfless love as you looked at Eleanor. They too are your "neighbors." Maybe you could help them in some way (financially, whatever) instead of demanding their child be in your house - you could help indirectly.

We are pro-life and pro-family, and the real horror was getting lawyers involved to turn this into an adversarial tug-of-war. The parents did nothing illegal. You hurt now, and everyone who cares for you (even as a distant reader) hurts for you, but some of this hurt is possessive and selfish, and should give way to joy that a broken family has been made whole, thanks to you.

Carl E. Olson

NW Clerk: Thanks for your comments. I hope I don't come across as ultra-sensitive or curt in my comments about your comments, but please understand that there is A LOT about this specific situation that I will not and cannot divulge that would, I hope, change your perspective if you were privy to it all. Anyhow, a few observations:

If the situation were reversed, and it was you who needed time to decide, you would have fought tooth and nail for your own flesh and blood.

If we thought that the birth parents weren't sure and were undecided, we wouldn't have taken Elanor in, at least not with the intent to adopt. We were already well into the process of adopting a third child via an agency, and we only had so much money (and it now very much gone, along with several thousand dollars more that we didn't have). In other words, the birth parents insisted, repeatedly, that they were certain about their decision. We believed them. Our mistake.

If the day ever comes that you can back up from this, maybe you will see that; maybe you will put yourselves into the parents' shoes.

You underestimate, I think, our ability to empathize and see this matter from different perspectives. But you must understand that we had a great deal of information that raised serious—very serious—questions about the motivations and competence of the birth parents. I cannot emphasize this enough: our decision to pursue legal action was not made lightly (quite the contrary) and it was not about keeping Elanor as much as it was about protecting her. We were convinced (and still are, frankly) that it could very well be harmful for her to return to her birth parents. I hope we are wrong. I'll be surprised if we are.

The parents are not just "DNA" donors.

I never described them in such a way.

The mother carried that baby for nine months

Got it. I'm familiar with the basic facts of how these things transpire.

they cared for her for three months

No, not really. The testimony and evidence during the hearings clearly showed that they hadn't cared for her very much or well during that time. The birth father's parents did. The judge even remarked on this fact during her ruling.

it is their child

Again, I'm pretty hip to the reality of the matter.

If only you had looked at the teens - God's children too - with the same selfless love as you looked at Eleanor.

Well, that's an interesting remark as it assumes that we didn't act out of love, but out of selfishness or anger or some other negative attitude. But it's not clear to me that giving people what they want or what they can legally possess is de facto a good or proper thing, especially if there is significant evidence that they are not capable or willing to be responsible for the thing in question.

Maybe you could help them in some way (financially, whatever) instead of demanding their child be in your house - you could help indirectly.

Well, we basically saved Elanor's life and took care of her for five months and spent some $7,000 to $8,000 doing so once you total up the adoption fees, lawyer fees, emergency room visit, food, clothing, etc.—and that's before any of our lawyer fees that we've yet to pay, which will run between $10,000-$20,000. Oh, then there is the trauma to our family, especially our 3-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter, who have been devastated by this situation. The money for our third adoption is long gone. Sorry, we've given. A lot.

We are pro-life and pro-family, and the real horror was getting lawyers involved to turn this into an adversarial tug-of-war

So we are the bad guys? Amazing.

The parents did nothing illegal

Neither did we. Just because lawyers were employed doesn't mean we were making a citizen's arrest. After all, they also had a lawyer. And we, I can say with complete confidence, did nothing illegal.

You hurt now, and everyone who cares for you (even as a distant reader) hurts for you, but some of this hurt is possessive and selfish, and should give way to joy that a broken family has been made whole, thanks to you.

You assume to know things you cannot and do not know. A further bit of info that may, hopefully, provide a different perspective. When the temporary guardianship hearing was set, Elanor was appointed a lawyer by the court. He was an excellent lawyer with an outstanding reputation who did the work pro bono. At first, based simply on the legalities of the case, he sought to put together a transition plan, believing that it was inevitable that Elanor would eventually return to the birth parents (he was, of course, right about that). But within three weeks or so, having seen the evidence and having witnessed how the birth parents handled themselves, he began to work to get Elanor to stay with us. He did this without ever talking to us, and without ever meeting Elanor; in other words, his decisions were based on the facts, not on pie-in-the-sky, dreamy talk about broken families being made whole. He, as Elanor's lawyer, was seriously concerned for her safety and told the court so in no uncertain terms. He argued strongly at the final hearing for Elanor to remain with us, stating that the evidence clearly indicated that there was a clear danger to her well-being. But he knew, I'm sure, that the chances of overcoming the legal status of the parents were slim. But he in good conscience wouldn't simply roll over in the face of statutes, no matter how hopeless it seemed.

Finally, I'll say this: if the birth parents had shown us by their actions that they were serious about changing their priorities and being good parents, we wouldn't have chosen the course we did. As painful as it would have been, we would have worked with them to transition Elanor back to them. Dare I say it again? This was not about us selfishly clinging to Elanor like little kids losing their favorite toy. This was about protecting a helpless, vulnerable child from a situation that was so strewn with red flags it was pure crimson from side to side. In making the legal decisions we did, we consulted at great length with our priest and with a deacon, as well as with many other people. And, frankly, while I don't feel as though I have to keep defending my actions, I do so because I think some people are so enamored with the warm and fuzzy potential of a family restored that they are willing to risk the possibility of a child destroyed. And that is something I simply don't comprehend.


You can trust me for prayers for your family and for Elanor and her birth parents. May God bless you all.


I do not dare offer advice or assumptions. I pray for you and your family and for Elanor. I also pray that her parents get their act together. God bless you for trying to save this child.

Domini Sumus

That is so heartbreaking. I have two friends who had prospective adoptions end in similar ways.

You provided a wonderful home for this little girl. I hope and pray that her birth parents will give her just as good a home.

I am so sorry that you had to go through this.


Carl and Family:
Thank you for the wonderful work that you do for The Church. It is a great work!
Thank you for bearing this great cross of suffering for God's people-I know that you are joining it to the cross of Christ. This is so powerful for all those that you love and care for, including your dear little Elanor. Only the Grace of God could console that Baby who was taken from her Mother's arms. Your suffering, and that of your Wife and your three children is not wasted! May Our Blessed Mother watch over and comsole you all!


I will pray for you, Elanor and your children! However, in reading your story, I think I may point to something that no one has thought to mention - the biological grandparents. I think that when a young teenage couple give up their child for adoption, they realize that they can't cope with parenthood. But the pressure of grandparents', friends', and acquaintances' opinions that question/disapprove of the birth parents' decision is a trump card that you neglect to address. Most teenagers are sheep that succomb to peer pressure. If they are being told that the grandparents miss the baby or if only the parents had asked for help then the grandparents would be happy to aid them, then they are going to fight to regain approval. Maybe, in your negotiations in the future, you could address the concerns of the grandparents? Visitation rights? God bless and protect you all...



Such heartbreak. May God bless you and your family for loving and caring for little Elanor. I will keep little Elanor, your family and the birth parents in my prayers.


Mary Alexander

I am so terribly sorry and unfortunately I think I know why the birth parents, so called wanted the baby back. It's called AFDC.



Carl, I cannot imagine the pain this has cost you. And thank you for responding with additional information - heaven knows how many children have died or been permanently harmed by well-meaning attempts to "keep a family together." Bless you for selflessly trying to protect her. I think one of the rooms in your heavenly mansion just got a furniture upgrade.


she is so adorable god bless you and good work on the site

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