Local woman wins congressional adoption award
Published 9:28 am Monday, September 14, 2015
A local adoption has garnered national attention.
Next month, local community activist Angie Odom will be honored in Washington, D.C. ,with an Angels in Adoption award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.
In 2013, Odom and her husband, Earl, became the custodial guardians of and later adopted their daughter Isabella “Hope” Odom. The story of their daughter’s birth is truly a miracle, Odom said.
Hope’s birth mother, Marie, overdosed on multiple drugs when she was only eight weeks pregnant. Marie suffered permanent brain damage, fell into a coma and was placed on life support. She later improved enough to be removed from life support, but she remains in a persistent vegetative state, Odom said.
Despite all that Marie went through, Hope continued to grow in her womb and was later born prematurely by cesarean section. However, because of all the medication used to treat Marie, Hope was born detoxing from drugs, a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Odom was nominated for the award by U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, who knows the Odom family and the story of their adoptive daughter.
“I could think of no better person to get this award,” Roe said.
Roe, a retired obstetrics and gynecology doctor who delivered nearly 5,000 babies during his career, said NAS is becoming an alarming epidemic.
“Almost half of the babies in our neonatal intensive care units are in there with NAS,” Roe said.
Something must be done to help combat this problem and care for these children, he said, adding that Odom took a stand and did something.
“She looked at a baby, that child, and her Christian heart opened up and she decided to help that child and that family,” Roe said. “She said, ‘I might not be able to help 50 babies, but I can help this baby.’”
“She did it where the rubber meets the road,” he added. “She didn’t just talk about it, she did something about it.”
Odom, who founded Abortion Alternatives and Women’s Center as well as the TLC Community Center, said she was honored when she learned she had been nominated for the award but she did not expect to actually receive it.
While the award honors her for her work as an advocate for adoption, Odom said she is not the important part of the story.
“This gives me a chance to share the story of Hope’s miracle birth with even more people,” she said.
Since Hope came into her life, Odom has shared the story of what she calls “an impossible birth” and how God cared for her daughter and allowed her to be born. She even authored a book, which was picked up for global distribution, to share the story with an even wider audience.
Odom will be honored along with others who have been selected for this years Angels in Adoption awards at a special gala event in Washington, D.C., from Oct. 5-7. As part of the event, Odom will get to share her personal adoption story with members of Congress and other government officials.
With recent news about abortions and the controversy which has surrounded the Planned Parenthood organization, Odom said she feels there is no better time for Congress to hear Hope’s story and learn that life begins in the womb.
“Hope’s story can inspire,” she said. “I hope D.C. fines hope, in more ways than one.
The story of Hope has inspired many in the community and now some in the community are doing what they can to give back to the Odom family. Shortly after learning Odom was to be honored and the family would be attending the gala in D.C., Odom’s vehicle broke down and costly repairs were needed. The family decided they were not going to be able to afford to attend the event.
That is where the congregation of First Church of God, where the Odom family attends, stepped in.
“Several of the people in the church approached me when they found out the Odoms were going,” Pastor Bob Shupe said. “They asked who was paying for their motel bill and I said I thought Angie and Earl were having to and they said ‘We want to do that for them.’”
“That’s just the way our church is, we try to help people,” he added.
The Angels in Adoption Awards are presented each year by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about adoption and foster parenting. Recipients of the award are honored for the contributions to the welfare of children in need of homes and for their advocacy in raising awareness about adoption and foster parenting.
The Angels are selected by their U.S. senator and representatives. Previous award recipients include Korie and Willie Robertson of the television show “Duck Dynasty”; Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose adoption story was featured in the film “The Blind Side”; First Lady Laura Bush; actress Jane Seymore; actor Bruce Willis ; and television personality Al Roker.