about abiding love adoptions

OUR MISSION

what we stand for

We believe that the traditional adoption agency model is becoming outdated and is currently more problematic than it needs to be. Many agencies retain possession of your Home Study after the process is completed, require you to pay most or all of your application fees upfront, and can leave you on a waiting list for months.

At Abiding Love, we believe in simplifying the Home Study process and have designed our Adoption Agency model to completely avoid the issues that the traditional model now presents. Our goal is to ensure that the adoption process is a positive experience for you, that we empower and educate Prospective Adoptive Parents so that when they are “matched” they are ready to love her big and well.

our team

Carrie Murray Nellis

Executive Director

Carrie's BIO

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 afterwards 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.

For years I have had the opportunity to work alongside Vicki, but 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.

Vicki Colls

Director of Birth Mother Advocacy

Vicki's BIO

Most little girls grow up dreaming about the man she will marry and the family she will have. I was one of those little girls. I grew up in a small farm community in Georgia where most people were married and/or had children young. Well, that was not my story….

After passing “the age of marriage,” I believed I was going to be single and would adopt my first child by the age of 30. Then I met my husband, Nestor, of 20 years. He was a widower with 2 children. Which when I dreamed of my husband as a little girl, that detail was not in it. But it was the beginning of an amazing journey for me when I learned to become 2nd and trust God in the details.

After getting married, I thought Nestor and I would add more children to our family, but that did not happen, at least not in the “dream” sense. We tried fertility treatment off and on for 11 years. I have never had the pleasure of saying “I’m pregnant” because God had a different plan: Open Adoption.

We adopted our first son in 2002 and again, not the way I had “dreamed” it. We were chosen to adopt a 25-week-old preemie with page after page of issues, who teaches us how to love purely. Seven years later—again, not my “dream” timeline—we adopted our second son, who teaches us we cannot follow the parenting rule book, just the Holy Spirit! Three years later, we adopted our daughter, again, not my “dream” scenario, yet Jesus knew she was the one to teach us joy during trials! Therefore, I have my perfect family—just as I dreamed—by letting go of the details and saying yes to being 2nd.

Lots of people believe being 2nd is a bad thing. I learned being 2nd is a place to be cherished. I am the 2nd mama; I did not carry my children or bring them into the world. Their birth parents do not get to be a part of their child’s day-to-day living and can feel 2nd. But working together in Open Adoption, each parent giving something unique and what the other cannot give, makes us both #1 in our child’s life and eyes, all because two sets of parents agreed to place our child 1st.

We all, at some point, deal with a broken “dream,” whether it is infertility or an unplanned pregnancy. We then must choose how we will respond. Being 2nd does not come without heartache for birth parents and adoptive parents, but being 2nd together, through Open Adoption, works out to being 1st to a beautiful baby.

Abiding Love strives to help, to the best of our ability, birth parents realize they are GREAT parents, and walk them through one of the toughest, most heart-wrenching decisions of their lives. When creating Abiding Love, Carrie and I set in motion an environment where our team goes-all-out to protect YOUR rights, YOUR desires, and YOUR adoption plan. We will be there to help you for as long as you need us as we grow into ONE BIG FAMILY.

Serving as a Birth Parent Advocate for over 10 years, I am present to help you every step of the way, including bringing your favorite comfort food or sharing mine: a cold Reese’s cup and cold glass of milk. I look forward to hearing from you.

Stacie Joiner

Home Study Caseworker

Stacie's BIO

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a burning passion in my heart to speak up for the voiceless. It’s how God wired me. I knew by the time I was sixteen years old that He had a clear calling on my life to do just that. Through my childhood, I witnessed my own mother advocating for life by loving on birth moms. I also witnessed several adoptions which overwhelmed and humbled me to see how beautiful of a depiction it was of my own salvation. I was lost and fatherless with no voice, then Jesus advocated for me on the cross. He paid the ultimate price so that I could be adopted and reconciled to my Heavenly Father. It was again imprinted on my heart that adoption would play a big role in my life.

God had placed the same desire on my husband’s heart before we ever started dating. After we got married in 2011 we prayed about adoption fervently, asking God for the right time. We went on to have 2 biological children when God gave us the green light in 2015. (By the way, our youngest was only 7 weeks old so this had to be God’s timing, right?) We prayed through every avenue of adoption, and God so faithfully led us to our daughter in China in the summer of 2016. Fast forward 4 years and we now have 5 children. In that time, we also uprooted our life in Georgia to move to Jacksonville, FL for my husband’s career. (We love the beach, but living near all these Florida Gators is still taking some getting used to!) Life is full and fun and crazy and never dull for us! We consider ourselves to have been blessed immeasurably more than we could have ever asked or imagined.

I am beyond excited to be a part of Abiding Love Adoptions walking alongside fellow adoptive families to help prepare them for the beautiful, unknown road they are faithfully and obediently walking down. It’s not an easy road, but it’s so worth it because it’s so pleasing to our Heavenly Father. It’s my absolute joy and honor to play any small role in God joining families together in such a beautiful, redemptive way.

Jill Thomley

Home Study Caseworker

Jill's BIO

I am thrilled to be a part of the Abiding Love Adoptions Team as a Home Study Caseworker for Middle and North Georgia. My husband, Jason, and I live in Macon, GA with our five children. We serve in the inner city through mentoring, coaching and a Hope Center. Our desire is for people to see God as He really is and to embrace Him fully. I love watching God bring change to the hearts of individuals here in Macon, GA.

I am from Indiana and met my husband, a Georgia native, when I was in school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I received a Master Degree in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma and started my career in prevention and family preservation. When we moved to Georgia, I became a child and adolescent therapist as well as doing homestudies for international adoption. After a few years at home with my little boys, I went to work for an adoption agency and served in all aspects of adoption; education, expectant parent casework, fundraising, adoptive family work and all of the executive aspects.

Two of our children came to us through the gift of adoption. I have personally walked the path through a homestudy and the waiting. I know the anxieties, the longing, the excitement and the disappointment along the way. I also know that the most beautiful moments come from watching the Lord work in even the smallest details to bring a loving birthmother, a beautiful baby and longing couple together to display His glory. It is a great privilege to empathize and encourage families along the way!

Sarah Clements

Home Study Caseworker

Sarah's BIO

My husband, Brandon, and I are happy to call St. Simons Island home. God has blessed our family with three very beautiful and very loud children through the miracle of both birth and adoption.

I first joined the Abiding Love crew by serving on the Board of Directors. I warned my husband that it was going to be something much bigger than a board position and boy was I right. God had some amazing plans. After a year I formally gave up my role on the board and joined Abiding Love as a caseworker for Southeast Georgia. I have experience as a children’s counselor in the community and school settings and have volunteered as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for foster children.My special interests in the adoption field are transracial adoption and trauma informed parenting. I am highly skilled in making a mean grilled cheese.

You know the expression you won’t work a day if you love your job? It is true. I love walking along prospective adoptive parents as they anxiously prepare to grow their family through adoption.

Lori Standard

Administrative Director

Lori's BIO

I live in Roswell, Ga with my husband Kevin and my two children Parker and Kaitlyn, our dogs Beau and Bailey and rabbit Munson. I am also honored to be Step-Mother to Ethan, Emma and Elijah Standard of Homewood, AL. Kevin and I keep very busy with 2 boys in college, 2 daughters in high school and one son in middle school. We attend North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga and are very involved in our small group, mentoring young adults together at Amana Academy and I am honored to be completing my certification as a Cobb County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer.

Several years ago I felt called to do something extraordinary, something more with my life. In praying and talking with my husband, I realized that two of the most important things to me was to follow God and be an example to my children of how when God speaks you need to listen. I joined Abiding Love Adoption Agency April 1, 2017 in order to follow God’s will and be a small part of how God is changing lives. As the head of Public Relations my role is to work directly with Hospitals, Counseling Centers and in At Risk Communities to educate and raise awareness for Open Adoption, and to further Abiding Love’s commitment to both Birth Parents and Adoptive Families. I am honored to walk beside the founders Carrie Murray Nellis and Vicki Colls as well as the courageous Mothers and Fathers that love and give unconditionally. Amazing Grace, Unending Love!

our partners

A Word

from our founders

"A Healthy Open Adoption begins at the Home Study. While many see the Home Study Process as simply a series of checklists and interviews, Abiding Love does not.  Instead, we passionately believe that one-on-one education regarding the complicated facets of Adoption is the starting point for the needed heart-shift from an adoptive parent-centered perspective to a triad-centered perspective.  The education and counseling completed during the Home Study Process is vital to not only the success of an Open Adoption, but to a Healthy Adoptee, Birth Mother, and Adoptive Parent."

- Carrie & Vicki