She’s there for the first steps and the first days of school. She knows just the right words to mend a broken heart, and her arms feel warm and safe after an all-too-realistic nightmare.
On May 11, mothers everywhere will celebrate a day meant just for them, a day that commemorates everything that a mother is to her children. For adoptive parents, the title of “mother” takes on a whole new meaning.
Adoption Rocks is a nonprofit awareness organization in Mobile committed to spreading information about how to adopt a child and how to put up a child for adoption.
“We decided to form Adoption Rocks seven years ago as an awareness group. We get out and beat the streets, and we’re just trying to get out and tell all the happy stories that come from adoption,” said Donna Ames, adoption attorney and co-founder of Adoption Rocks.
While Adoption Rocks is not a licensed adoption agency, Ames and her team of attorneys just help to bring families and birth mothers together to make adoption possible. Over the last several years, more people have been contacting Adoption Rocks to find out about the process of adoption.
“In 2013 alone, we helped facilitate about 30 adoptions. It’s a little hard to know the exact number of people we’re reaching, but we are seeing more adoptions and know that the calls for more information to our answering service are increasing,” Ames said.
Adoption Rocks aims to help not just couples looking to expand their families, but women who feel ill equipped to raise a child. Tamra Woods contacted Adoption Rocks in early 2013, looking for help to find a family for her unborn child.
“I had two kids previously, and then I found out I was pregnant with my third, and it was the third baby in three years, so I knew immediately that I was going to do adoption,” Woods said.
After finding out about her pregnancy, Woods began searching online for adoptive couples with no success.
“They would mail me 20 or 30 profiles [of adoptive couples] at a time to go through and pick, and it was just really overwhelming,” Woods said.
Hearing about Woods’ struggle to find a suitable couple for her child, her doctor gave her the contact information for Adoption Rocks.
Woods worked with Ames to figure out just what she wanted in an adoptive couple, and Woods decided to pursue an open adoption, meaning that she would be able to visit the adoptive family and remain in her child’s life after the adoption.
Ames explains that Adoption Rocks works with the licensed adoption agencies in Mobile and across the Bay.
“Because we’re out there and actually promoting adoption a little more than the agencies can do, we get more girls coming in here than would go to the agency,” Ames said.
The parents who adopted Woods’ daughter were actually working with Bethany Christian Services in Spanish Fort. They placed their profile books — complete with personal stories, photos and their hopes about adoption — at Adoption Rocks. When Tamra found their profile, she knew she had found the right couple.
“If you look at some of the pictures in some profiles you see the ‘Oh yay, we’re so happy’ look, but in Robbie and Laci’s book, you could tell it was a natural smile and that they were truly in love. Whenever you meet the right one, you know it — it’s immediate. I went through hundreds of profiles and knew they were perfect,” Woods said.
After making her choice, Woods met the adoptive couple at the Adoption Rocks office. Woods even brought her two young children to the meeting as well, looking for openness and a true connection between the families.
“We sat around and talked about what we were all looking for, and everyone was playing with the kids, and we just went over my story and what they were looking for to make sure we were all heading in the same direction,” Woods said.
The couple happily attended all of Woods’ doctor appointments, and was even there to find out that they would be adopting a daughter. After Woods gave birth in August 2013, she felt relief at seeing her daughter with Robbie and Laci. “I’m secure in the fact that I know she’s okay. As soon as I saw them with her, it was absolutely magical. I just knew she’d be OK,” Woods said.
The families keep in touch with photos and phone calls, though Woods has not yet visited her daughter in person. Woods’ other daughters get involved, too. “I have Robbie and Laci’s profile book at home, and the girls will pull it out and look at it, and they’ll say, ‘Elite’s momma and daddy?’ We talk about her all the time,” Woods said.
Ames explains that Adoption Rocks and the other agencies in the area help families and women find the answers that fit their needs.
“We promote all kinds of adoptions. Older adoptions, DHR adoptions, foster care adoptions, foreign adoptions. When a couple comes in to see us, we will tell them how to do anything their hearts are leading them to do, and when a birth mother comes in, we help her do what her heart is leading her to do,” Ames said.
Adoption Rocks helps people around the state and the country find those special connections that create happy adoption stories. Camille and Merimon Epps, of Birmingham, also found their adopted child through the organization. The Epps’ profile was featured on the Adoption Rocks website, and the birth mother saw it and contacted Ames.
“The birth mother finding us without the website, without having seen the Adoption Rocks poster, it just would never have happened. We just would never have known,” Camille Epps said.
The families met and began to bond, just as Woods did with her adoptive family. “Of course, everyone’s nervous. We, for one, really wanted them to like us so badly. And we wanted to see a rapport happen and find people you can connect with long-term,” Epps said.
The Epps family also decided upon an open adoption with the birth mother, and visited her for a few doctor appointments throughout the pregnancy. Though the two families do not live near each other, they plan to make time for visits.
“They just know there’s always an open door to come here, and it’s the same with them. We’re going to make sure that when we leave a visit, there’s a plan for the next one,” Epps said.
Baby Epps was born on April 1, 2014, and went home with the Epps family only a few days later. After about two years of searching for a child, this homecoming had a special meaning for the Epps family. For her first Mother’s Day, Epps looks back on her own mother’s influence on her life.
“I cannot thank my mother enough. I am a twin and she was just Wonderwoman. I’ve never celebrated Mother’s Day on this side before, so that will be great for both of us,” Epps said.
An adoptive mother herself, Ames says that Mother’s Day becomes all the more special for her. “Mother’s Day is the best day of the year, right behind Christmas and Easter, and I know the other mothers feel the same way,” Ames said.
Epps agrees that adoption makes parenthood a refreshing and loving experience. “There are so many couples out there with a heart for adoption, and it’s so great for an organization to connect loving couples with these mothers,” Epps said.
For more information about adoption in Mobile, visit AdoptionRocks.net.