In Loving Memory of Mary Vanessa Antonio Wheatley
In Loving Memory of Mary Vanessa Antonio Wheatley September 10, 1975- March 22, 2020
Mary Antonio Wheatley truly put the “heart” in Heart of Adoptions, Inc. Serving as the agency’s Executive Director was so much more than a job to her, it was her true calling and she was deeply passionate about her work. Mary dedicated her career to working tirelessly at all hours of the day and night to help form families through adoption, just as she and her husband lovingly created theirs. It was her personal experience of adopting her two daughters that made Mary vulnerable, approachable, and relatable, making her a true guardian angel for many of our clients.
Not only was she treasured by the clients she served, but also by the agency and law firm staff with whom she worked. Mary was constantly checking in with everyone, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, to support, counsel, encourage, rally and celebrate her staff. She shared the best advice, offered positive words of encouragement, and lead by example. She was known for authoring “Feel Good Friday” uplifting emails, leading staff in fundraising efforts for special needs adoptions, and showing appreciation for hospital and social work staff with the delivery of “thank you” goodie baskets. Mary was also highly coveted as the driving force behind the yearly Florida Adoption Council Conference. Boy oh boy, could she throw a great event! Whether she was planning a themed birthday party for one of her daughters, a birth mother luncheon at the office, or a statewide conference, Mary gave 150% of herself, assuring each detail was covered to a tee.
In addition to her profound professional contribution to the adoption community, Mary was personally committed to improving the lives of anyone with whom she came in contact. She was always interested in what others were going through and how she could help improve their situation. Anyone that had the privilege of having Mary as a friend most certainly had a friend for life. Mary was extremely loyal, abundantly generous, devoted and dedicated to her friends and family.
Anyone that knew Mary, knew how much she adored her family. Her already exuberant smile somehow doubled when Mary spoke fondly of her husband and daughters. She was also deeply devoted to her parents, who predeceased her. Mary attributed her stellar parenting skills from having learned from the very best and remained deeply grateful for her upbringing. Mary was well known for telling detailed stories and when she shared stories of her mom or dad, she did so with such adoration. Mostly her family stories centered around tradition. This common theme was passed down from her parents and Mary was dedicated to providing the same to her children. She thrived on holiday traditions, Greek traditions, and any tradition that honored her parents. While Mary loved nothing more than being a mother, the only solace we have is that Mary is now with her parents, watching over Joe and the girls and guiding them from afar.
Mary’s smile, laughter, and heart of gold will forever be missed, and she will never be forgotten. While the hearts at Heart of Adoptions, Inc. are completely shattered by this loss, we intend to keep Mary’s legacy alive by honoring her through the work we do, and the love we do it with and providing an annual adoption grant in her memory. We are all better humans for having known Mary and we will take the genuine love she offered us all and continue to pay it forward so that her loving memory can continue to make the world a better place.
-Nicole W. Moore