meet our team
My Mother tells a story about me at the ripe age of 7. She found me pacing up and down the driveway with my suitcase full of necessities (i.e. dolls, toys, etc) in hand. A family friend happened to be out for a run and stopped me thinking I was planning to run away. He asked: “Carrie, what are you doing?” With the innocence of a 7 year old I simply answered “Mr. Stan don’t you know Jesus is coming? Are you ready?”
And with that I seem to have never stopped asking the same question to all who would listen. As I grew older I realized simply loving people was more effective than words – but when God opened the doors the question remained the same – Are you Ready?
I graduated from Wheaton College with degrees I would never use, but my time at Wheaton furthered my passion for others and a thirst to discover how my talents & passions fit into the body of christ.
My sweet husband, Gil, and I married fresh out of college. Only three months into our marriage when literally I woke him up in the middle of the night to say “God is calling me to go to Law School.” His response was as surprising as my impromptu announcement – He said “me too.” And with that we quit our jobs and went to Mercer University School of Law together. Throughout our time at Mercer I admit I was jealous of Gil. He was focused. He knew his calling was towards Tax law and Estate Planning. For three years I continually asked God “Are you sure I heard you right?” “Why am I here?” His steady voice continued to say “Just wait.”
After Graduation, I worked for a small general practice law firm in Savannah, Georgia. I was blessed with great partners who genuinely loved me, but I was lost – still not knowing why God had called me to practice law.
Within my first year of practice, I had my first Adoption case and a fire inside me started burning. Shortly afterward The Murray Nellis Law Group was born. I quickly became involved in Juvenile Court cases and saw an opportunity to serve my clients by not only fighting for them inside the courtroom but by loving them outside the courtroom walls as well. But as many do, I became disillusioned with the Juvenile System that so many times it fails our children and Birthparents. The Lord showed me that through Open Adoption children would have an opportunity for a stable safe upbringing and Birthparents would have the opportunity to reclaim their dignity and know what it means to be truly loved.
And so one thing lead to another – years have gone by and the Lord allowed my law practice to become exclusively centered around Adoption Law.
In 2016, the Lord called us to start Abiding Love Adoption Agency. It is our passion to serve Birthparents and to serve them well by loving them FIRST! I consider it an honor that God chose me to love on such special women and men during one of the most difficult times of their lives.
I am a Bostonian now happily living on the Space Coast of Florida. I love the sway of a palm tree and any excuse to buy more sunglasses. I am married to my husband, a quadriplegic and a passionate disability advocate. I parent one teen daughter who lives life on the spectrum. Those two, along with my three dogs, keep me pretty busy! I am also a published writer in several publications and have authored two books (and counting). Running is a hobby I enjoy a lot. I am also a longtime weight lifter. I might be the best athlete, but I am determined. This is a skill I have learned to embrace about life in general: Do it fast or do it slowly, but don’t give up!
I am deeply committed to adoption as a viable option for an unexpected pregnancy. I know this is true because I became a birthmother 11 years ago. Coming to terms with the fact that adoption was the best choice for everyone in my unexpected pregnancy situation was humbling and scary. Thankfully, I had loving people come around me to support me through the process, alleviate the fear of the unknown, and strengthen my faith as I walked through this. There were many questions along the way. I had doubts too. I want to be there for the next woman contemplating adoption for her unexpected pregnancy. To replace fear with confidence. To strengthen her feeble knees as she walks through the unknowns of adoption planning. I want to go before her to pave the best way possible for a healthy experience. That is what I hope to do. That is what gets me out of bed to do this work in the morning. I don’t know what every woman who does this is going to go through. I know the journey is a lot better for her when she knows someone understands and can show her the way to go through the lens of shared experiences.
I have an open adoption and a great relationship with my biological daughter and her family. We have more of a relationship than any of us planned on, which makes it all the more special. My advice to couples seeking adoption; be honest about what you want in an ongoing relationship with a prospective birth mother to your child, but make sure to leave room in your heart for more.
My work in the Pro-Life arena concerning adoption takes me to many stages to share my story and advocate for adoption. It is has been my joy to help raise awareness about women just like me in how we can change how society sees us and what we can do to make adoption more of a conversation in Pro-life circles.
It is my joy to serve the next woman seeking to make an adoption plan. God has been gracious to me in allowing me many opportunities to do that outside of Abiding Love, and now as an advocate for an organization I love and respect so much.
Jill Thomley has worked in the field of adoption for nearly 18 years. Having the privilege of working with Expectant Mothers, Birth Mothers, Adoptive Families and even some Adoptees, she finds great joy in seeing all those involved in an adoption placement thrive. As a Post Placement Educator for Abiding Love Charities, Jill mentors Birthmothers to identify their future aspirations, assists them in removing barriers and celebrates their accomplishments. As the adoptive mother of two, Jill brings a unique perspective as she advises families navigating the complexities of open adoption relationships.
Jill lives in Macon, GA with her husband, Jason, and their five children.
Haven Wagner Fogarty is a Mama to four, a Bonus Mom to two and a Birth Mom to one. She is passionate about the needs of birth Mom’s and understands deeply the importance of having someone who will walk the journey alongside.
As the Birth Mother Support Group Manager for Abiding Love Charities, it is her goal to make sure that every birth Mom has the love, support and encouragement they need to truly flourish.