Much of Brent Mason’s day-to-day life is spent crunching numbers. As finance director for the city of Riverside, Calif., he’s responsible for making sure everything adds up in the city’s books. His home life is also about numbers: 6 + 4 = 10, for example. That’s how many adopted (six) plus biological (four) children call Brent their father.
Brent and his wife, Jill, have been adopting special needs children for 19 years, a process that has brought them joy but also struggle. Their six adopted children — who came from China, India and Korea — suffer from a range of disabilities, including seizures, cerebral palsy, arthrogryposis and spina bifida. The Masons see adoption as a calling and a ministry.
“We are people of faith and feel strongly this is what God has called us to do,” Mason told the Riverside/San Bernardino Press-Enterprise. Mason recently shared some of his story with Biola Magazine.
As the chief financial officer for the city of Riverside, I’m responsible for directing all the financial affairs of the city. It’s a $1 billion annual budget with a full complement of city services provided, so I get involved with a wide variety of issues, but most of them have to do with finding resources to get things done.
Specifically, my department includes the investment of the city’s resources, issuing and managing the city’s debt, all of the financial accounting and reporting required of the local, state and federal oversight organizations, budgeting and financial analysis, and lastly the purchasing and risk management functions for the city.
After our first four kids, my wife approached me with the idea of adopting a child. That would make five, but it sounded interesting and like a good thing to do. Since that first “yes” decision, we’ve added five more, making the total adopted kid count six!
The organization we’ve adopted through, Hold International, approached us about a 10-yearold little girl with a pretty tragic story. We said yes and it was from that point really that we recognized adoption as a “calling.”
All of the first three girls had mild to moderate special needs of various types. As we pursued the fourth child, we moved up the scale in terms of severity of special needs. The fifth child came home last summer and the last will come home this summer. Three are from China, one from Korea and two from India.
At Biola, the mentoring I received from my accounting professor was exactly what I needed to help me be as prepared as I was to hit “the big bad world.” He had just come out of public accounting with one of the large international firms, which was my objective too. I landed an offer with the firm, now called Deloitte, and then shortly later with Price Waterhouse. This professor honestly talked about the good and the bad, and the kinds of challenges we would face. Given our unique outlook on “success” (as opposed to how the world would define it), I felt better prepared to address those hurdles when they came my way.
I anticipate being with the city of Riverside until I retire, which will likely be on the earlier side. My wife and I have “the rest of our lives” to care for the children we have adopted, and to love and enjoy them, trusting and praying that they and all our kids choose to follow Christ and make him Lord of their lives. We expect to have lots of grandkids and anticipate we will spend a great deal of time enjoying them. I also plan to get more deeply involved with current ministry opportunities with needs kids in Mexico, which has been a passion for about 20 years. That will be a ton of fun!
Biola unquestionably prepared me for my professional life, as I’m sure it does for all the various majors it offers. So much of one’s vocational success is what you do after you’ve got your first foot in the door, and Biola gave me what I needed to open that door for the first time.
All that Biola represents — its unquestionable commitment to making Christ known throughout the world — takes on greater and greater meaning to me as I get older, having so deeply rooted within me the values and principles that continue to motivate me today.