Thank You For Thinking Of Gladney

Posted by Lisa Schuessler on 3/29/21 12:15 PM

You prepared us. As we reflect on the unexpected events, challenges, and lessons of the past year, we can clearly see how you and other Gladney Friends like you equipped us. Your support provides our staff with the tools they need to serve expectant mothers, adult adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, and family members well. From technology and training to office supplies and transportation, we have what we need—to stay connected to each other, meet our clients’ needs, and continue fulfilling our mission of Creating Bright Futures Through Adoption—because of you. You sustain us. 

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Topics: Support, Development

Open Adoption

Posted by Gladney Center for Adoption on 3/16/21 8:45 AM

Prior to applying to adopt through Gladney, my husband, Courtney, and I researched open adoptions as much as we could. On top of the typical questions about the adoption process, we asked ourselves, “How exactly do we navigate an open adoption, and what if it all goes wrong?”

We had been parents for almost three years to our daughter, Avery. She is our little IVF miracle. Becoming parents again wasn’t what intimidated us. It was all the added layers that came with adopting a child. Parenting a child who is adopted is one layer. We added another layer when we chose open adoption, and we added an additional layer when we chose to adopt and parent a child of another race. We believe these layers are not obstacles or complications, but they do lay the footprints of a unique parenting journey.

I remember vividly the day I received a call from our caseworker that an expectant mother had chosen us and wanted to talk to me on the phone. A couple of days later, she and I spoke for hours. We had already created a Google voice number, but after talking to her on the phone, we decided to share our real phone number. We made arrangements to visit her and her family in Phoenix later that month. My husband, our daughter, Avery, and I flew out to Phoenix. A Gladney birth parent caseworker met all of us at Chuck E. Cheese for dinner to help make introductions and to ensure we all felt comfortable. The next day, we joined her and her family at a science museum and enjoyed playing with the kids and getting to know each other better. Before we ended our short trip to Phoenix, we decided to reveal our last name and email address. This was the first step in opening up the adoption.

When she texted me to say she was in labor, we threw our bags in the car and drove straight from San Antonio straight to Phoenix. At a McDonald’s for a pit stop, Avery told other children on the playground that her little sister had been born. There were some confused expressions! The next morning, we met our youngest daughter at the hospital. We took placement of Olivia when she was two days old and visited with her birth mother and her family a couple more times before we had permission to head back to Texas.

When Olivia was born, we opened up our adoption a little more by sharing our address. We continued to text and talk on the phone about Olivia. At this point, we didn’t need to send updates through Gladney because we were communicating directly. Through phone calls and texting, we continued to build our friendship. As Olivia neared her first birthday, her birth mother asked if she could come and visit. For the next few years, we would fly her out every other year for a visit. These visits occurred without Olivia’s biological siblings.

As Olivia approached 5 years old, we decided it was time to include her siblings in a visit, so we made the drive to Phoenix. As I’m writing this, Olivia and I have been looking back at photos and videos from that time and reliving some memories. I cannot fully explain the joy we all experienced watching all the siblings play together. For Olivia to see her own physical traits in her biological siblings and to share some of the same personality traits provides her answers that we never could have provided without an open adoption. On this visit, she also got to meet her new baby brother. Olivia proudly shares with her friends that she has two sisters and two brothers. She confidently shared she was adopted with her entire first grade class when she was “queen of the day.” We have continued visits with Olivia’s birth mother and her siblings at least every other year. Sometimes we go to Phoenix, and sometimes they come to San Antonio.

Without an open adoption and visits, Olivia wouldn’t have the opportunity to develop a relationship with her biological siblings. Some people have asked how I handle it if her birth mother crosses a relationship boundary or how I feel when Olivia and her birth mother are interacting. I view our relationship with her birth mother as a relationship with any family member. Sometimes boundaries are crossed, and there are disagreements, just like in any family. The important thing to remember is that this is not about us. We are navigating this journey and relationship for the benefit of Olivia. I can confidently say I’ve never felt threatened by her birth mother’s presence in our lives. Olivia knows I am her Mom, but she also knows she is loved by her birth mother and that her birth mother made a loving decision by choosing us to be Olivia’s parents. We do not correspond with Olivia’s birth father but will welcome some type of relationship when he is ready. For now, we are happy to be able to remind Olivia of who she gets her great sense of humor from and why she is so good at puzzles.

Every story is different, and I hope by sharing our story, we provide yet another perspective for a family wanting to adopt or currently parenting a child who has been adopted. Wherever you are in your journey, I hope I provided some insight by sharing our experiences.

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Topics: Adoption Stories, Transracial Adoption, Development, Open Adoption

You Will Always be Essential to Gladney

Posted by Lisa Schuessler on 12/17/20 1:45 PM

Love for a child changes everything. Adoption means change and rocks lives and homes to their core. We recently asked adult adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, family members, and Gladney staff members to share what adoption means to them, and they shared these words: dreams, whole, safe, connection, opportunity, passion, future, gift, joy, perspectives, sacrifice, love, and hope. In a continuing season of both change and stillness in our world, we are grateful for the foundation that family connections build in a child’s life.

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Topics: Development

Balancing Optimism With Realistic, Strategic Decisions

Posted by Lisa Schuessler on 9/8/20 8:40 PM

2020 is a year full of defining moments that will be reflected on for years to come . . . challenges faced, losses grieved, lessons learned, flexibility shown, creativity generated, and new connections celebrated. As Gladney begins our new fiscal year, we feel hopeful and are balancing that optimism with realistic, strategic decisions and plans. Gladney is not immune to the challenges many individuals, families, and organizations are currently facing. Just as family will always be essential to our mission of Creating Bright Futures Through Adoption, you will always be essential to Gladney—we need you.

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Topics: Insider, Gladney Friend, Development

Build a Brand of Advocates for Adoption

Posted by Tiffany Anderson, MBA on 9/2/20 9:00 AM

Leverage your social networks, corporate connections, and other affiliations to build a brand of advocates for adoption. The most effective way to enhance Gladney’s presence in the community begins with our existing advocates: YOU.

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Topics: Advocacy, Development

Our Adoption Day in Court

Posted by Gladney Center for Adoption on 9/1/20 3:35 PM

I’ll never forget Jade’s final adoption day in court. We were surrounded by families just like us. We were all there out of love and a shared understanding of the struggle to become a family. I remember when they called our names to come up before the judge. The lawyers had prepped Brian and I beforehand on what we would be asked and what to say. When the lawyer asked Brian to state our daughter’s name, Brian was able to get out her first name and then burst into tears. It was our commitment to loving her forever. It was an amazing feeling to give your whole heart to a tiny little human. She has changed our lives for the better. We are so thankful her birth mother chose us. 

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Topics: Testimonials, Adoption Stories, Transracial Adoption, Development

Thank You For Staying Connected To Gladney

Posted by Lisa Schuessler on 6/16/20 10:00 AM

So far, 2020 has been a weighty year in our country and in our world. In some ways, it feels like time is moving slowly, and yet, it is hard to believe it is already summer. As we continue to deal with COVID-19 and social distancing and identify how we can best support families in having conversations with their children about racism, we know flexibility and collaboration are key. We are listening, learning, and making connections, in order to serve our clients well. We have hope—the lessons we are learning and conversations we are having will lead to growth, resources to share, and a brighter future.

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Topics: Gladney Leadership, Development

Connecting Gladney Families

Posted by Luke Byford on 5/17/20 2:35 PM

The first weekend in May is a special time for Gladney and Gladney Families because it is the annual retreat for the Gladney Family Association (GFA) leaders. Gladney adoptive parents and adult adoptees come from all over the United States to connect, learn, and discuss how to better fulfill Gladney’s Family for Life promise in their home communities, in addition to building lifelong friendships. This year, like so many other things in our lives, we took the GFA Leadership Equipping Retreat to a virtual model. On Saturday, May 2nd, Gladney Ambassadors gathered around their computers for a full day of education and collaboration. Their passion for and commitment to advocacy mean the future for Gladney Families looks bright.

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Topics: Gladney Family Association, Development

Gladney's 2019 Annual Report - Expectant Mother Services

Posted by Natalie Bowen, LMSW-TX on 5/15/20 12:56 PM

Today, the expectant mothers we serve have more complex needs than the clients we served 10 years ago, and we have adjusted our services to meet them where they are.

Expectant mothers experiencing unplanned pregnancies and mothers with young children who contact us considering making an adoption plan are sometimes coming from a challenging, vulnerable place. While some expectant mothers have a strong support system and access to resources, others may be in an abusive relationship, unemployed, experiencing homelessness, or have mental health or substance abuse treatment needs. The women Gladney serves range from teenagers to women in their forties, with an average age of 26, and 49% of the women already have other children. More than 70% of the women are from Texas, and the remainder of the women are from other states across the U.S., including 15 states outside Texas in 2019 alone.

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Topics: Gladney Birth Parent, Gladney Home, Development, Annual Report

Gladney's 2019 Annual Report - the Gladney Home

Posted by Natalie Bowen, LMSW-TX on 5/11/20 7:45 AM
As we shared in the 2019 Gladney Annual Report, Gladney transitioned the purpose of our residential home to be the Gladney Home for foster youth, serving girls between the ages of 11 and 17 who are seeking permanency through adoption. Our current referral partners are Child Protective Services, Our Community Our Kids (CPS Foster Care Region 3B - North Texas), Family Tapestry (CPS Region 8 - Bexar County), and 2INgage (CPS Region 2 - Northwest Texas).

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Topics: Texas Foster Children, Gladney Home, Development, Annual Report

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