A longtime advocate for adoption, country star Rodney Atkins has opened up about reuniting with his birth mother in an interview with the Associated Press.

Raised by adoptive parents in East Tennessee, the six-time chart-topper sought out his birth family in 2008, after folks claiming to be blood relatives began contacting him, possibly looking to benefit from his success.

"I needed to close that door," Rodney tells the newspaper.

The singer, who's served for several years as a spokesman for the National Council of Adoption and even has a youth home named after him, says he's glad he found his mother -- mostly because it brought her peace. The woman, whose identity he's kept private, became pregnant at 19 and hid the matter from her family, opting for adoption over abortion.

Although she later married and had a son, she wrestled for years with her secret past.

"I just wanted to tell her thank you, because she had some other alternatives to end that situation," Rodney told the paper. "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.'"

On his latest album, 'Take a Back Road,' Rodney sings about his childhood and some of the people that helped shape his life. Although his birth mother was not among them, there's some indication she's making up for lost time. On his first birthday after their reunion, she sent a baseball card and jersey signed by Dodgers great Steve Garvey, Rodney's favorite baseball player growing up.

Watch Rodney Atkins' Video for 'Take a Back Road'


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