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It was only supposed to be temporary, but 14 years later Rory Hall is still with Adoption Advocates. In fact, she is now leading the team as the executive director. Her mother founded the agency 24 years ago and what started as a part-time administrative job turned into a passion Rory hasn’t been able to part with. We sat down with Rory to discuss her work, home life and everything in between.

meet rory adoption advocates 2

What is Adoption Advocates’ primary goal?

To help a child find a family and educate everyone in the process so that there’s empathy on all sides and everyone is taken care of and respected.

What drives your passion for adoption?

Watching people shift their entire way of thinking about adoption, overcoming the myths that society puts out there and breaking down those barriers.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

It’s funny because most people would think it’s the placement, but for me it’s taking families, both birth parents and adoptive parents, from the beginning when they have the “deer in the headlights” look and [are] fearful and bringing them to a point where they are approaching adoption realistically and not based on fear. When families talk to us about the process and we answer their questions, I watch them go from fearful and white-knuckled to relaxed. I know how to put people at ease and get them comfortable with the process – that’s kind of my favorite part. It’s always nice to hear in the end how much I was helpful to them throughout the process.

What advice would you give birth parents who are about to begin their adoption journey?

Call more than one agency and ask a lot of questions – I think that’s the biggest thing. Most agencies are providing similar services as far as financial assistance and counseling and things like that, but what education are they providing adoptive parents? Other good questions to ask are: What kind of contact can I have with the family before placement? What kind of hospital support do you provide both of us? What do your open adoptions look like? What is your process for matching? I’d also tell birth parents that even if they feel when they are first starting that they don’t want contact in the future, they should make sure they go with an agency whose families are flexible and willing to respond appropriately if they change how they feel about future contact. Oftentimes they think they don’t want contact because it’ll be too painful. Later on, they do, and because they said that before placement, a lot of families or agencies like to stick to that. We educate adoptive and birth parents that life is long and so many things can change and how you feel now is not necessarily how you are going to feel later – that’s on both sides.

What advice would you give adoptive parents who are about to begin their adoption journey?

Approach based on facts, not fear, and get educated as much as possible. Get in contact with a genetics counselor about information regarding prenatal exposure, mental health and other genetic concerns. Get involved with a support group and seek infertility grief counseling to approach adoption wholeheartedly. Find an agency you are most comfortable with. It is important to trust who you are working with.

Do you know any good resources that people can go to when looking for support during the adoption process?

Tapestrybooks.com has a ton of great adoption books. The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole is a good book if you are interested in domestic, infant adoption.

How has adoption changed in the last 10 years?

People are more aware about open adoption. Ten years ago, you used to be able to find agencies still doing closed adoptions or semi-open adoptions. The biggest shift is more openness and families being a little more comfortable with it in the beginning stages of the process because they have already heard so much about it.

Where do you see Adoption Advocates in 10 years?

We will continue providing the same level of services we provide now, be on the cutting edge of implementing research into practice, hopefully providing more education to the community and changing the way people talk about adoption so we can continue to break through the adoption myths that have been perpetuated by the media.

Do you have any children?

Kai – she’s turning 12 next month. Her name means “blue water.” I chose it because of my love for the beach and her blue eyes.

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What is your favorite thing to do with your family?

I love coaching my daughter’s volleyball team and watching movies together.

Tex-Mex or barbecue?

Tex-Mex! Jorge’s used to be my favorite restaurant but it’s no longer here. La Fogata is probably my new favorite, but it’s in San Antonio. Check out Tacos Ivan – they have the best breakfast tacos!

Who has been a mentor in your life?

Jenny Cravens. I’ve known her since I finished college. She’s been with the agency since 1993 and consults on difficult cases – and I get personal counseling for free! She’s been great.

What is your favorite quote?

“There’s a big difference between wanting what’s best for your kids and wanting them to be the best.”

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We asked a couple of Rory’s past clients if they could share a few words about working with her. Here is what they had to say.

Ilene (birth parent):

What was/is your favorite part of working with Rory?

My favorite part of working with Rory is her positive attitude and love for open adoption. When I first met Rory I was in the worst place in life I had ever been. I felt like my life was decaying around me and I had nowhere to turn. After just one meeting, a weight had been lifted off of my heart and because of Rory I look forward to so many more years in this life.

What is the most important lesson that you learned about adoption through working with Rory?

To take it one day at a time. All open adoptions are different but through Rory’s help, I have been able to deal with these crazy emotions that go along with placing a child. She has literally guided me step by step through this process. I couldn’t have asked for a better counselor/friend.

Dee (adoptive parent):

What was/is your favorite part of working with Rory?

My favorite thing about working with Rory was that I could be myself with her, totally honest, open and raw. She is a straight shooter and we ran through the gamut of emotions; I was totally comfortable crying to her and I loved laughing with her. No matter what, I always knew what was going on, every step of the way.

What is the most important lesson that you learned about adoption through working with Rory?

Everything. Really. Most of what I learned about adoption I learned through Rory or her agency. Probably the most important lesson I learned was that open adoption can be a good thing and that I could actually enjoy it. She opened our eyes to the truth about open adoption and how society has so many misconceptions about it. She helped us realize that it doesn’t have to be scary or something to avoid. I am so grateful that we chose her to help us walk this journey of becoming parents, (making our dream come true), and so appreciative that we are blessed with open, loving relationships with both of our birth families.