“Everything pointed back to Hope”
“And Then There Was Hope.”
That’s not just the title of Angie Odom’s upcoming book; it is also the theme for Odom’s family for the past 18 months.
This book, which Odom wrote with co-author Abby Morris-Frye, tells the story of Odom’s adopted daughter Bella Hope, the story of her birth and how she came to be a member of the Odom family.
Odom, the founder and director of Abortion Alternatives and Women’s Center and the TLC Community Center, has shared portions of Bella’s story before, but said the story in the book is the first time that the full story has been shared, including the birth, the circumstances which led up to the adoption and the things the family has faced each day in caring for a baby which was born addicted to drugs.
“We want this to serve not only as a testament to the miracle God had performed, but as a way of giving hope to others,” Odom said. “We feel like if we don’t share the story then God doesn’t get the glory.”
Odom said she first had the idea to write a book about Bella’s story when she was waiting in the lobby of a local doctor’s office with her older daughter Bethany. She noticed a woman in the lobby holding an ultrasound picture and crying.
“I thought she was crying tears of joy, but she explained she had to start chemo pills and was afraid it would hurt her baby,” Odom said. “I shared Bella’s story and what she had overcome. I thought how much it would help if I had something in written form that I could share to help people see that there is a challenge but God is in control and what medicine says is impossible God can take care of.”
After that, she said she consistently felt a “push” from God to write the book.
“I am not a writer,” Odom said. “I didn’t have any peace until I committed to do it. As soon as I made the commitment to do it, life got crazy. The summer food program was going. My daughter found out she was pregnant. I had all these excuses but I would still wake up with words that I needed to put on paper.”
Odom said she also feels it is important to share the story in order to encourage others who may be facing circumstances that seem impossible. Odom hopes the book can provide encouragement for those who may be battling addiction, facing a crisis pregnancy or dealing with any number of other difficult situations.
“Miracles really do still happen,” she said.
Odom also hopes her book can shed light on neonatal abstinence syndrome, a medical condition that occurs when a child is born addicted to drugs and experiences withdrawal symptoms. The book includes a chapter on the syndrome.
“I founded a crisis pregnancy center 14 years ago. Throughout the years I have worked with many clients who have had substance abuse problems,” Odom said. “The first time I ever heard the words ‘Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome’ was after beginning to care for Hope.”
She said the title came about because during the early months of having Bella in their family, the term “hope” was used quite a bit. The baby came to them with her birth mother’s full name, with the middle name of Hope. Odom chose to leave her middle name as Hope but changed her first name to Bella.
“We found we just kept using the word ‘hope’ and it was her name,” Odom said. “No matter what the circumstances were, everything pointed back to hope.”
Odom said the book was written in a conversational tone, as if she was actually telling the story to the reader.
“I wanted it to read just like I was talking,” she said. “I wanted it to flow and be me. I didn’t want it to be too difficult so that anyone can pick it up and read it.”
The names of the birth family were changed, but Odom said that the names of all the volunteers from the community who have helped during the process were listed in the book.
“I tell the story just how it happened,” she said. “I wanted to show how it took a community to help a child. It shows that God sends an army when it is needed.”
The official release for the book will be held on Thursday, Oct. 2, at 10 a.m. at the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library. Another book signing will be held at Chick-Fil-A in Elizabethton on Oct. 2 from 3-7 p.m.
On Friday, Oct. 3, book signings will be held at the Coffee Company from 8-10 a.m. and Dino’s from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Books can be purchased at the TLC Center at 145 Judge Don Lewis Blvd., Elizabethton, or by contacting Odom at 895-8601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.