By Kara Witherow, Editor
Thea Ramirez has been an advocate for as long as she can remember.
As an 11-year-old camper, Ramirez learned of a friend’s horrific abuse and helped campaign for her safety.
Serving as a summer intern at an orphanage in Juarez, Mexico, the 17-year-old rising high school senior fought for abused orphans and was instrumental in stopping their physical and sexual abuse.
As an adult, Ramirez has advocated for neglected, developmentally disabled adults, which resulted in personal attacks on her character.
“Advocacy has always been a thread in my life,” said the 28-year-old mother of two. “I have always been in situations where I advocate for others. That has been a constant stream in my life, whether it was defending someone who was being bullied on the playground or reporting abuse that a friend was experiencing. The Lord has wired me to function in such a way that when I see injustice, regardless of how great or how small … I am compelled to action.”
Now, Ramirez, a member of Wesley United Methodist Church on St. Simons Island, has brought together two of her greatest passions – advocacy and networking – to launch the online adoption networking platform and support group Adoption-Share.
Designed to promote communication within the adoption community and to assist in the adoption journey, Adoption-Share is not a facilitator or an adoption agency, but a social networking website providing networking and information services for adoptive parents, birthparents and licensed adoption entities.
In short, Adoption-Share is a bridge – a connector – that helps connect birthparents to licensed adoption agencies and adoptive parents with agencies.
Birthed about eight weeks after she had son Max, 1, Adoption-Share is Ramirez’s third baby (daughter Luci is 3).
“It was not an ideal time to launch a business,” said the former adoption social worker. “And it was not a great time to drain my savings account, but I have never felt more conviction. I felt a tugging and pulling toward Adoption-Share and knew I had to do it. I felt very led to do it.”
Faith plays a central role in Ramirez’s life and in her launch of Adoption-Share.
Growing up in a strict Christian home, Ramirez, who was raised Anglican, remembers having a relationship with Christ and conversations with Jesus at a very young age.
“The environment my parents fostered in our home led me to a really personal relationship with Jesus Christ at a very early age. I remember having conversations with Jesus at age 4 or 5. I didn’t just understand him as some distant, abstract concept, but really believed him to be my best friend and someone who is there for me.”
Ramirez’s relationship with Christ shaped the course of her life and grew and matured as she did.
“My faith grew as I grew, and my genuine relationship with Him deepened through the years,” she said.
She sees God’s hand, along with her passion for advocacy and justice, crafting her life and path.
Ramirez’s early volunteer work in crisis pregnancy centers and tutoring teenage mothers eventually led to her work as an adoption social worker. In 2009 she left her state auditing job to help develop a private adoption agency. It was through her work with the agency – assisting with multiple adoptions and hearing stories from adoptive parents – that the dream of Adoption-Share began to take shape.
“I never in a million years thought that this … would become a centerpiece in my life, but here I am, front and center,” Ramirez said. “It’s about life and Kingdom values. The Lord really spelled it out for me, crystal clear. I have drawn on all of these seemingly random experiences … to get where I am today.”
Where she is today is celebrating the one-year anniversary of Adoption-Share. The purpose of the adoption site, she says, is to “bring everyone to the table.” A social network and platform, Adoption-Share exists for the free exchange of information and resources relating to the adoption process.
“With Adoption-Share we’re trying to make adoption an attractive choice for a woman,” Ramirez said.
From her cozy office in her downtown Brunswick home, Ramirez spends her days helping pregnant women and potential and hopeful parents. Supporting and encouraging her is husband Lucas, whom she met while they were both students at Eastern University in Philadelphia. The couple, married in 2006 at Wesley UMC, found their way to the coast when Lucas, now the executive director of Brunswick’s Gathering Place ministry, was hired as Wesley UMC’s youth director.
“Faith is the only reason I’m here,” Ramirez said. “I always want to be in God’s will. What Adoption-Share has done speaks to God’s amazing power and His faithfulness.”