Rodney Atkins Shares Emotional Journey To Reunite With Birth Mother

The United Methodist Church / Pinterest

You may be familiar with Rodney Atkins and his chart-topping hits, but did you know that his upbringing was shaped by adoption?

Born on March 28, 1969, in Knoxville, Tennessee, Rodney Atkins faced early challenges as he was put up for adoption and initially struggled with health issues. He was initially placed in the Holston Methodist Home for Children in Greeneville. Two couples attempted to adopt him but returned him due to his severe illness.

“I had a respiratory staph infection and I think I was colicky, which I’m sure was a lovely sound to be hearing,” Atkins revealed.

Then, Allan and Margaret Atkins were resolute; they adopted Rodney and played a crucial role in nursing him back to health.

Atkins took to his social media on Wednesday (Jan. 17) to express his gratitude for his parents.

“I wasn’t raised in a big house. We didn’t have a lot of money. But they had a whole lot of love…They’re always about, ‘Go get it. You can do it.’ And I’m so thankful.”

Raised by the “greatest parents in the world,” Atkins found his passion for music at a young age. 

“I always used to love to sing, and they would laugh at me doing chores, cutting kindling or whatever,” says Atkins. “I would be out there singing at the top of my lungs.”

Inspired by artists like Charlie Daniels, Atkins pursued music in high school, continued writing songs in college, and eventually signed with Curb Records in 1997. His breakthrough came in 2003 with “Honesty (Write Me a List),” followed by the country No. 1 hit “If You’re Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)” in 2006. 

Beyond the charts, Atkins’ story is intertwined with the profound impact of adoption, a theme that resonates in both his personal life and musical narrative.

At the age of 19, Atkins’ birth mother concealed her pregnancy from her family and ultimately made the decision to place him up for adoption.

Later on, Atkins embarked on an emotional journey to reconnect with his roots in 2008. Prompted by individuals claiming to be blood relatives reaching out, Atkins decided to seek out his birth family.

“I just wanted to tell her thank you, because she had some other alternatives to end that situation,” Rodney told the Associated Press. “I might not be here. So you don’t want to take it for granted…She kept saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ I kept saying, ‘Thank you.'”

Rodney Atkins’ adoptive parents wholeheartedly supported the reunion. They traveled to meet his birth mother, bringing along a collection of photos spanning from his infancy to recent years, allowing her to catch up and glimpse into his life. 

Rodney shared, “My mom put together pictures from the time I was an infant to a few years ago to catch her up and let her see what my life was like.”

Rodney Atkins with his adoptive parents.
Rodney Atkins / Facebook

Atkins also eventually met the man who facilitated his adoption and engaged in charitable work for the Holston Methodist Home for Children. Additionally, he became a national spokesperson for the National Council on Adoption, highlighting his personal adoption journey. 


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Married to Tammy Jo for over a decade, Atkins emphasizes the importance of love and generosity in parenting, drawing from the impactful lessons of his adoptive parents. His experience underscores the belief that “love is thicker than blood.”


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Listen to Rodney Atkins talk more about reuniting with his birth mother below.