By Michelle Salyer
For Dr. Rachel Fornes, a Cocoa Beach chiropractor and founder and president of Home at Last Adoption Agency, one of the happiest days of her life was when her first adopted daughter was born 19 years ago. It was also the day she first realized her passion for helping the mothers who put their children up for adoption.
“I looked around me, and my friends and family were celebrating the birth of this beautiful child and I just kept thinking of the birth mother who was left all alone, she recalled. “I have such a passion for birth mothers because what they’re doing is so selfless.”
Since then, Fornes and her husband of 17 years, USA Today founder Al Neuharth, have adopted five more children, including two sets of twins. She fielded so many inquiries about the adoption process through her church, her children’s schools and her chiropractic office that she decided to undergo the two-year licensing process and open her own adoption agency, which has been licensed for nine years.
Fornes’ passion for birth mothers is core to her business philosophy. “It’s not a business where we say ‘Okay, you place your baby, we find a family and we say goodbye.’ We have an ongoing relationship with our birth mothers. It doesn’t matter whether it’s six weeks or two years later, they stay in contact, they call us. They share their accomplishments and/or their failures.”
To provide that level of emotional support to birth mothers and adoptive families, Fornes’ work often surpasses normal office hours. “We are always present. We cover our phones 24/7. I get calls at night, morning, afternoon, weekends. We’re available—readily available.”
This work ethic flows through her entire staff as well, “The staff I have is totally dedicated and passionate about adoption. I know that I can count on them evenings, weekends, whenever it is… I know at any given moment I can say, ‘Meet me… Go there…’ and they’ll be there. They’re passionate. That’s one of the things that makes us different.”
While she still sees patients at her Cocoa Beach chiropractic clinic part time, Fornes’ full time mission is to inspire others to “open their hearts and homes to children in need.”
“I just wish we could empty out all the foster care and all the kids in the system and find them a permanent home. They don’t belong in an orphanage or in foster care—they belong in permanent home,” she said. “Every child deserves a chance in life. They deserve everything you can give them.”
For more information, visit www.homeatlastadoption.com.