Sitting in church this past Sunday our associate pastor was delivering a message taken from the movie Frozen 2. I’ll admit that it took me about two years to see the first Frozen and I have yet to see the second, however I did YouTube what she was talking about. In the movie there is a song that Anna (Kristin Bell) sings called The Next Right Thing. Even though I haven't seen the movie, this resonated with me because the message seemed to be about overcoming adversity or tackling big problems by doing The Next Right Thing.
Sometimes life is out of our control. When you are a child in Foster Care, that "sometimes" is most of the time. If you came into foster care with a suitcase or bag, it's gone after your first home. The majority of the time, the substitute is black garbage bags to carry your belongings in when you are moved to another home. Close your eyes and visualize your meager belongings stuffed into trash bags.
A Gladney Adoption Story
“One morning, my caseworker was on the phone telling me there was a family who wanted to adopt me. I remember crying and feeling shocked and excited at the same time. I was surprised a family wanted a seventeen-year-old as a daughter. How is that possible?After meeting my new parents, I opened up a little to them and talked about some of my past, which was sorta shocking because I rarely ever tell anyone about it. Something in my heart told me I could trust them. As part of one of our visits, we went to see the movie Tomb Raider, and that’s how I came up with my new name: Lara. That was the name of the main character in the movie; and she was strong, incredibly brave, and also very adventurous.
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.
This internship has been so much more than I ever expected! I first heard about Gladney after I started the MSW program at the University of Texas at Arlington. When the opportunity presented itself to apply for an internship here I jumped at it, but I was not holding my breath on being one of the few lucky ones to be selected. Then, the much-anticipated e-mail came in…” you have been accepted as an intern at the Gladney Center for Adoption”. Intern at Gladney?! Me?! I felt like my eyes were deceiving me! I remember calling my mom to tell her and then quickly assuring both of us that it was too good to be true. I am so glad that statement was wrong!
The Gladney Center for Adoption is very saddened and troubled by the separation of children from parents at our nation’s borders. Research demonstrates children who are suddenly and without cause separated from their parents experience significant trauma with long-lasting negative impact on growth, emotional and mental health. To learn more about this issue please click here to read the American Association of Pediatrics’ statement. Gladney is a child centered organization and we advocate for children around the world.
It's been a journey already that you've taken towards becoming parents. You've had a lot of tough conversations and wrestled with your plans. Now you're ready to learn more about adoption and you're faced with several options.
If you are thinking about becoming a foster family or adopting a child from the Texas State Foster System, you will need to attend an information meeting in your area where you can discuss the scope and requirements of being a foster or adoptive parent.
Families or individuals interested in learning more about the process to foster or adopt from the Texas State Foster Care System are invited to a Free Adoption Expo on April 7, 2018. The Expo will be held from 1 p.m. til 4 p.m.
Adopting from the state foster care system comes with a lot of unknowns, but because of people like Dan & Karen, kids like Michael and James have a family who loves them and a bright future ahead. Watch Michael share the evolution of his adoption story from being known as “street baby” to “just Michael”.