Please click on the photo, or this link, to see the photo essay on the Roach family by photographer Nancy Rhoda
What Happened Next
Bryan and Shawn Roach were foster parents to a newborn baby girl in the summer of 2014 who was anonymously surrendered at a Nashville fire hall.
They expected to adopt her, mainly because it is mostly unheard of that biological parents return to claim babies who are surrendered in that manner. However, this child’s mother did return. And, she was within her legal right under the Safe Haven Law, to do so.
The story made national headlines.
Shortly after the baby returned to her mother, DCS published a photo essay by photographer Nancy Rhoda, who had been documenting the Roaches journey with the baby. Rhoda captured their joy at receiving the baby, simple, quiet moments and their sadness over her loss.
The department’s goal in assigning the photographs was to document a child’s passage through the foster care system -- from surrender to permanency -- whatever that permanency would look like.
The media coverage and online conversation after the stories ran about the baby’s return included many questions about how the Roaches were feeling and concern over how devastated they must have been.
But, Shawn and Bryan Roach, as emotional as they were, say they did what foster parents are trained to do: They cared for that baby girl and prepared her to return to her mother. Shawn Roach even made a photo album with snapshots and information for the mom, to catch her up and extend a kindness.
“The day she left we were very emotional. We loved her, but we loved all the babies we have had in our house. We have had 12 kids in our house,’’ Shawn Roach said. “But, we are still in touch with the mom and we know the baby is OK. That helps so much."
Shortly after the baby girl went home, the Roaches became foster parents to a newborn baby boy. His parents were unable to care for him and surrendered their rights to the child. The Roaches adopted him in October and celebrated the event with family and friends, and a couple of special guests: The baby girl from last summer and her mom.
“I am so glad they were here,’’ Shawn said.
About their son, Shawn adds: “We know now CJ is the perfect fit for us. He is very jolly. He smiles a lot. He is really a good, happy baby.
“We are so glad we became foster parents.’’
The Photo Essay
Photographer Nancy Rhoda documents the Roaches' journey with their son, CJ, who came into their lives as a child in foster care. You can see the gallery by clicking this Flickr link.
Become a Foster Parent
Surrendering a Baby: Do You Need Help?
If you are dealing with an unexpected, unwanted and/or hidden pregnancy and you are considering surrendering a baby, contact the Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee Help Line: 1-866-699-SAFE.
It is a confidential service. Read more about the Safe Haven option.
Editor’s note: The baby girl’s mother has given permission for her photo to be published, but asks for continued confidentiality and anonymity.
© Copyright Notice: All photos in this story are attributed to Nancy Rhoda. No photos can be reproduced without permission of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, Communications Department.