This is a very exciting time for the Gladney Center for Adoption. We are embarking on a long-term plan to address why children continue to wait in foster care after they are legally available for adoption. Gladney has always believed every child deserves a loving and caring family, and in many ways, Gladney is returning to its roots. We began when our founder Reverend I.Z.T. Morris took on the responsibility of finding loving families for children from the orphan trains who arrived in Texas after they hadn’t found homes along the way. Although children no longer take long journeys across the country on orphan trains, the children waiting in foster care have often survived a much longer, more treacherous journey. Most children living in foster care are there because they experienced abuse, neglect, or other trauma. In addition, they have experienced the loss of a family due to removal from their homes and separation from their biological families. Once in foster care, most of these children will experience multiple placements, moving from one foster family to the next or to group homes. We know children thrive in families, and children who have experienced trauma can only find safety, security, and nurturing in a loving and caring, forever family.
Gladney has been placing children from foster care for many years. In October 2018, the Gladney Center Board of Directors voted to further advance Gladney’s focus and mission by creating a task force to grow and improve adoptions from foster care. The purpose of the task force is “to create a sustainable and replicable model that places every adoptable child waiting in Texas foster care.” The members of the task force include Gladney board members, Gladney parents who adopted children from foster care, and Gladney staff, with input from outside experts in relevant fields. Gladney board member Roger Metz serves as the chair of the task force. This group begins its exciting and strategic work this month.
In preparation for the creation of the task force and its work, Gladney staff spent the summer and fall researching questions and issues affecting foster care and pulling data, information, and anecdotal evidence regarding children in foster care who are waiting for adoption. Gladney staff will continue to work closely with Our Community Our Kids in Fort Worth, in order to identify children who need adoptive homes much earlier in their legal process than in the past. Our staff are also communicating with Child Protective Services and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers from around the state who are advocating for children throughout the legal process. In addition, Gladney has begun to open lines of communication with agencies across the United States who are screening, educating, training, and offering supportive services to prospective families who want to adopt children from foster care.
The task force will begin to assess what would be the highest and best use of Gladney’s strengths and what Gladney’s primary role should be in meeting the needs of these waiting children. They will approach the issues from three directions: impacting external systems to serve children and families; constructing the best internal systems to create scalability; and ensuring long-term sustainability. Once the initial work is started, the task force will work to create strategies for success, set objectives with clear measurable goals, and provide input and evaluate Gladney’s progress against the strategies’ short, intermediate, and long-term goals and desired outcomes.
Gladney’s mission is Creating Bright Futures Through Adoption. With the work of Gladney’s board, committed staff, engaged volunteers, and collaborative partners, we hope to impact the futures of thousands of children who are waiting in foster care for a forever family, because every one of these children deserves a loving and caring family.