“Little Bear”

I want to tell you about a friend of mine.

His name is Alvin Surveyor Wolfmule. He is a seventh-grader at Oklahoma Bible Academy in Enid, Oklahoma.

Alvin is a young man of intelligence, character, and personality. He is a Cheyenne-Arapahoe and grew up with the nickname “Little Bear.” 

Most importantly, he is a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

Alvin recently changed his legal name to Ryan David Nelson, II. “Junior” (as I call him now) chose his name because of its meaning ( “Little King” ), and in honor of his adoptive father, Ryan Nelson, Sr.  Junior’s father and mother,  Ryan and Chloe Nelson, serve as pastors of Willow RoadChristian Church in Enid, Oklahoma. They are also the loving adoptive parents of Alvin Wolf-Mule, now Ryan David Nelson, II (“Junior”).

What a family this Nelson family is! You can read their adoption story of “Junior” below, but I want to tell you about my relationship with this remarkable young man.

I first met Junior in the foster care system in Oklahoma, a few years before the Nelsons adopted him. The foster family Alvin lived with, a wonderful family who were members of the church where I pastored, took Junior into their home. They shared with me one day about their foster child, Alvin Surveyor Wolf-Mule. Serving as this family’s pastor, I asked if I could take Alvin one day to Chic-fil-A for lunch, to get to know Alvin better.

They said, “Yes!” I took Alvin to lunch, leaving our time together stunned by what I discovered about Alvin’s story.

On his paternal side of the family, Alvin Wolfmule is the direct male descendent of  Hook Nose (1823-1868), a famous Northern Cheyenne Chief, also called Roman Nose. On his maternal side, Alvin Wolfmule is related to the southern Southern Cheyenne Chief called Roman Nose ( (b.1856 – d.1917). The southern Roman Nose was a highly respected warrior named AFTER the famous warrior Northern Cheyenne Chief Roman Nose. The two chiefs – one from the north and one from the south –  were not related.

But Alvin Wolmule is a direct descendant of both chiefs.

Alvin’s maternal grandfather, Chief Roman Nose (1856-1917), lived during turbulent times. He participated in the Red River War, the last war in Oklahoma between whites and Indians. Most people know of Roman Nose because of the Roman Nose State Park in Oklahoma. I’ve written about how the United States Army captured Roman Nose, his Cheyne warrior friend Okuhhatuh, and seventy other Plainsmen Indians after the Plainsmen Indian attack on Buffalo hunters at Adobe Walls, a buffalo hunter camp in the Texas panhandle.

After being captured, Roman Nose was sent in 1878 to Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida, where he was listed as a “ringleader.” But it was in Fort Marian that Roman Nose and his buddy Okuhhatuh made professions of faith in Jesus Christ. I’ve written a compelling article on the American government’s capture of these Native Americans and the subsequent conversion to Christianity of many of the captives.

After release from federal prison, Roman Nose attended the Hampton Institute in Virginia and the Carlisle Institute in Pennsylvania. In 1892, Roman Nose received a land allotment in current-day Blaine County, Oklahoma. This land later became part of the Roman Nose State Park, which was named in his honor.

Henry Roman Nose died in 1917 while living in the canyon where Roman Nose State Park was established.

Alvin Surveyor Wolf-mule, my friend, is in line to become the next Chief of the Cheyenne-Arapahoe Nation.

But the LORD seems to have other ideas. Like David Pendleton Oakerhater (Okuhhatuh) and Roman Nose, Ryan Nelson, Jr. wishes to follow in the footsteps of the King of kings, the LORD Jesus Christ.  Ryan loves his Native American heritage, but Ryan David Nelson, II loves his LORD’S Kingdom even more.

I’ve never met a young man more sold out to Christ than Junior Nelson.

Junior and his adoptive parents are BIG Houston Astros fans. As the MLB World Series begins this Friday night, I thought it cool to tell a real-life story, not a game.

Ryan David Nelson II is a living testimony that a person’s worth is not to be found in one’s nationality, gender, or family of origin. A human being’s dignity and worth are found in the LORD Jesus Christ, in whose steps Little Bear loves to walk.

What follows is the NELSON adoption story of Junior, written and presented below as a collaborative effort of Ryan and Chloe Nelson and their son, Ryan David Nelson, II.

A PRAYER ANSWERED: The Adoption Story of Ryan Nelson, Jr.

Many silently struggle while enduring the arduous, painful, never-ending, stressful process of adoption.  The Nelson family’s desire in sharing this story is to provide hope and encouragement for others as they press on in what can sometimes feel like the battle of a lifetime for a family’s future.

To begin with, Ryan and Chloe Nelson were fully aware that having a child biologically would most likely be out of the picture for the two of them, and they were content with that reality.  They had no plans of adopting or fostering children until God introduced them to the raw, unimaginable pain of children suffering under the weight of great familial loss, agonizing loneliness, and instability found after being taken from their families.

At the time Chloe was teaching Kindergarten at Emmanuel Christian School.  Each day the teachers would gather for morning meetings that included a small devotional and prayer time.  Dr. Glazier, the headmaster of ECS, shared a prayer request for a delightful little boy who had never been in trouble or even seen in his office once.  This child, in the foster care system, was placed with a family who had children attending ECS.  However, his placement with them was supposed to be for only a week or two.  This sweet little boy, Alvin, ended up staying with that family for almost a year and a half.  The family greatly cared for him, so they waited to try and find a good forever family for him, but it had been a long time waiting, and they were praying for him to be established in his forever home.  In addition to this family’s great love for this child, they also faced a fierce battle against cancer.

Upon hearing this Chloe grew greatly burdened for this child, concerned for his unknown future and the burdens he must have been carrying on his own for so many years.  Without knowing anything more about him she left work at the end of that day and knew she had to talk with her husband.  To this day she can remember where she was sitting on the couch as her husband stood in front of her, and she shared this boy’s troubling circumstances.  Chloe asked Ryan what he would think about taking him into their home, and they both immediately agreed that if they were to take him into their home that it would be with the willingness of future adoption so that he would know he had his own family who would love him freely and unconditionally.  As afraid as they were, unsure how it would all work out, they moved forward to meet this special boy.

Emmanuel Christian School held an event that week or the next.  Ryan and Chloe had an idea of how to casually get to know this kid without him feeling any pressure about the situation.   They spoke with his foster parents and agreed on a way for the first real meeting to occur.  Maybe this little boy would feel like it would be a good fit with them, and they would get along well.  On the other hand, they knew that he might not like them at all and that it would be best for him to be with another family.  That night as the evening drew closer, Ryan and Chloe grew even more eager to meet him!  The plan that the Nelsons and little Alvin’s foster family had was for all of them to sit together at this school dinner like it was not planned though it was planned.  All along, while they had that plan, God had another plan to make it even more casual and natural for them to meet.  As soon as Chloe and Ryan got to the dinner line at ECS to get their food, little Alvin and his foster family were just next to them in line, so it appeared even more natural that they were to sit and eat together.  Ryan turned to Chloe to ask where Alvin was in the room, and she quietly whispered back into his ear, “He is RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.”

When Ryan and Chloe met this boy, they knew he was so special.  Ryan started making some small talk with Alvin while in line for a little bit, and then after grabbing their food, they continued into the dining hall where the two families sat together.  The two families casually talked while Ryan asked Alvin about the things he liked and enjoyed.  The two of them soon found a common interest in Star Wars.

Ryan and Chloe felt it would be best to continue talking with Alvin’s foster family about how to move forward and to find a way to spend more time getting to know Alvin because they knew if they moved forward that they would pursue adoption for him to become a part of their family.  They wanted to make sure it would be something that worked out for everyone.  Oklahoma Bible Academy had a football game that night, so Ryan and Chloe invited Alvin to join them.  He decided to go and what a special evening that was!  Ryan and Chloe knew after that night that they wanted to move forward with having Alvin placed into their home.  At that point, they began the process with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.  All of the paperwork, fingerprinting, and home visits began.

After some time passed they finally completed the process with OK DHS for his placement, and they were able to invite him to live with them.  At this point, they had been able to get to know even more about Alvin.  They learned that he loved Harry Potter, being with his friends from ECS, school, and reading.  While they had gone through the process of DHS paperwork, they were able to start buying him Christmas presents, lots of presents!  Of course, most of the gifts were Harry Potter-themed.  They got him everything they could imagine that he would want!  They found him hats, scarves, a Harry Potter cape, books, an ornament, Harry Potter stuffed animals and much more.  They were so excited to give this kid love and for him to know just how truly special he is to them and to God.  Just a month before Christmas they were able to ask him the long-awaited question of whether he would want to make the transition to live with them.

Ryan and Chloe wrote Alvin a letter addressed to him like a letter he would have received from Hogwarts if he were living the Harry Potter story.  The letter was a request that he would move in with them and become a part of their family.  Chloe had even filled some white balloons with helium and drawn owls to make it look like the owls from the Harry Potter story were carrying this special, life-changing letter to him.  They planned the evening out with his foster family so that they could bring the letter to their home.  After the sun went down that evening they brought the letter to him.

Little Alvin was sitting in a wooden chair beside the front door, with his back to the door and to Ryan and Chloe.  Ryan and Chloe knocked, and one of the little girls opened the door.  Ryan and Chloe gave the owls and the special letter to him over his shoulder, and he quietly read it in his seat and then said, “yes”, that he would live with them!  In the hopes that he would say yes, Ryan and Chloe had already prepared his bedroom at their home.  Shortly after he was able to move in, just a month before his tenth birthday, when Alvin moved in he decided to call Chloe his “Mom” and Ryan his “Dad”.

Over about two years, each of them patiently endured the foster care process and hoped it could lead to Alvin’s adoption.  Even up to the very last months his native tribe, the Cheyenne Arapahos, had to pursue placing him with one of their native members and taking him from placement with Ryan and Chloe.  You see, Alvin is a direct descendent of Crooked Nose, the brother of Chief Roman Nose.  His heritage is of great value, but as valuable as it is, Alvin, Ryan, and Chloe had become a family, and Alvin wanted so desperately to be with them forever.  Chloe and Ryan had taken him in to love him as their child, to help him, teach him, guide him, and provide for him the best they knew how.  As much as they loved him and had faith in God, Alvin endured many days of stress and even nightmares of fear that he would be taken away.  He desperately wanted to feel rooted, and stable, and so desperately needed to know that he could be a Nelson forever. He wanted to do all sorts of things like travel spontaneously out of state, which was impossible while in foster care.

After many prayers, court hearings, home visits, stacks of paperwork completed, then refilling out paperwork, scheduling and attending more court hearings, and all the unhelpful hurdles of COVID to add to the process, they finally were getting closer to his adoption.  Many steps had to happen before that became a reality.  Not to get into all the details, but Chloe had finally reached her pinnacle of great care and concern for Alvin’s wellbeing and wrote a letter to the court.  She read it with all her might, shaking like a leaf in the courtroom with Alvin by her side, pleading that they would see how well he was flourishing and to let him become a Nelson.  Alvin also took a stand in the courtroom and spoke from his heart to all in attendance that he had never felt so much love in his life and wanted Ryan and Chloe to be his real parents and that he would be miserable if it did not happen!

During that same hearing, Ryan shared with the court the story of how Ryan’s descendent, Alvin Coppock, met with the trading chief of the Cheyenne Arapaho tribe some generations ago and prayed blessings for their future generations, and built schools for many native tribes.  Ryan then stated how it was Ryan and Chloe’s desire to be a blessing for little Alvin just as Alvin Coppock had prayed when he met the Cheyenne Arapaho tribe.  At the hearing, little Alvin’s tribe was concerned about Alvin losing his heritage due to being adopted by a non-tribal family since both Ryan and Chloe were not natives of a tribe, let alone the Cheyenne Arapahos.

That day, the Nelsons hoped that he might be adopted by a miracle of God, as they were asked to wait in the side courtroom while the court workers and judge discussed the case further.  Unfortunately, to their dismay, there were parts of the process yet to be completed, and they had to wait to see.  Finally, they received notification that they would have a virtual hearing of his case in a few months.

The night before the court hearing, Ryan and Chloe tucked Alvin into bed as they  always would do, little Alvin prayed a special prayer, “God, if it is the one thing You ever give me, let me be adopted.”  As Ryan and Chloe walked out of the room, Chloe told Ryan how she sure hoped for God to deliver an answer this time, and she thought of how it would build little Alvin’s faith to know that God was listening so closely to him.

Junior had to wait 991 days, but finally, as God usually does for this special boy, God moved mountains to deliver just his request.  Although there was a typo on the court paperwork and the process was supposed to be delayed again, the DHS workers corrected the error just an hour or two before the morning court hearing, and Alvin was finally adopted.  During the adoption Alvin changed his name to Ryan, to have a name just like his daddy’s. Everyone calls him Junior now to keep it simple.  Finally, that prayer that Alvin Coppock made many many years ago was answered for the life of little Alvin, a native of the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribe.

When first placed into foster care, a boy who did not know how to read is now an avid reader and currently has straight A’s, and is flourishing within his family and school.  It was all worth it.  The fear, tears, anxiety, frustration, panic, and pain was all worth it.  Now the Nelsons have a child of their own, and Junior has a family he knows will be there for him until the time ends..  When Junior attended ECS, his teacher at the time, Ms. Lisa Wright, shared her faith with the class, and little Alvin began to believe.  After Alvin shared that he believed he was baptized by his daddy, Ryan.  Over the years he has grown so much in his faith and even after all he has endured and suffered, his new mom is always amazed and proud to share with others that “he has a heart of gold”

Junior is enjoying so much of his life: his first year of football where he learned just how much of a natural he is on the field, his friends at school, all of his great big family, reading, and of course his up-and-coming baseball season. They are especially enjoying some family time watching the Houston Astros crush it in the Post-Game Series!  They are sure hoping the Astros make it to the big World Series!

So if you are reading this and find yourself in a similar struggle, take heart.  God will work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. And the child you seek to help will never forget how your care, support, and love made them feel regardless of the outcome.  Press on toward your suffering knowing that Christ has not left you in this alone and that He knows just what you need when you need it most.  Junior wants this story to be shared so that other parents and kids can have hope that their adoption will work out.


Editor’s Note: With the Astros in the 2022 World Series, it’s a good week to remind us of what is important in life: Family, identity, and love. Go Astros!