I've always heard that a good teacher teaches more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic. I didn't know how true that was until I met the Agee family.
Rachelle is a 4th grade teacher in southern Alabama. She's got that light inside of her, you know the kind. She smiles sweetly, but has a firm hand. She knows what she wants, and when she asks for it, you know it's for the best.
Jesus walked into her classroom for the 2017-2018 school year. He and his brother John had just been placed back with a foster family at that school after going to two other homes that didn't work out.
Jesus had some behavioral issues he was working on, but Rachelle said, "He just needed to know that he was loved unconditionally...So many people had abandoned him in his life. He would push people away with his behavior as a coping mechanism." He just needed to know that this time, she wasn't going anywhere.
The next year he was in 5th grade right next door to Rachelle. He came to visit her a couple of times a day to give "the best hugs ever." She decided she didn't want those hugs to stop. "He was placed in my room on purpose. God knew exactly what he was doing."
Rachelle and her husband contacted DHR several times over those two years about the boys, and were finally able to start their TIPS classes in October of 2018. On December 14th, Jesus and John were placed in their care. Then, on a rainy June 5th, 2019, in a court room packed to the brim with family, Jesus and John officially became an Agee.
I remember Rachelle saying she was happy it was raining. On unity days, a rainy day is a good sign. You know why? Because a wet knot is even harder to untie.
Rachelle and D'Marcus even wrote vows to Jesus and John, promising to love them, unconditionally, forever. I'm glad most of these photos are in focus, because not gonna lie, I was crying through the whole thing.
I was so honored to be able to go and photograph this beautiful moment. As a volunteer photographer for Heart Gallery Alabama, I get to photograph kids like Jesus and John who are still waiting for their forever family. Our goal is to raise awareness for the children (especially teens and sibling groups!) who are still in foster care, waiting for a permanent place to call home. It makes my heart so incredibly happy when I get to document this part of the story. The part where they get to go home.
Thank you so much Rachelle and D'Marcus for letting me share your incredible adoption story, and to Jesus and John for letting me take a million photos of you. And to DJ for being the cutest little brother ever. You guys have my heart.
And a HUGE thank you to Michelle and everyone at Heart Gallery Alabama for letting me be a part of your incredible mission to find forever families for Alabama's waiting children.
If any of you are interested in learning more about fostering and adoption, or if you want to donate towards the cause, please check out the Heart Gallery website. There are still hundreds of kids looking for their forever family, and that's just in Alabama alone!
You can also learn more about the process and find classes through Children's Aid Society and APAC, which is an incredible resource if you are considering adopting.
Classes start July 1st in Mobile, AL!! You can call Rachel Roberts at 205-943-5349 for more info.
"There are no unwanted children. Only unfound families."