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Hear from Our Team

Domestic Infant Adoptions

“In 2022, we saw improvement in the demystification of adoption. In our experience and in the lives of the expectant moms we serve, adoption is an empowering option for some women who feel like they don’t have as many choices. Gladney is a place of refuge for them, and they feel peace about their adoption plan.

Unfortunately, there are not enough services for expectant mothers experiencing unplanned pregnancies. Communities are struggling with lack of affordable housing and mental health services, shelters are full, and there is no real answer. We are searching high and low in the communities where we serve to try to find resources for clients.

Gladney is invested in caring for the lives of our clients. Sometimes that means they don’t choose the option of adoption, and they decide to parent. To be able to make a small impact on women’s lives by being able to provide them with a night in a hotel or a listening ear is invaluable in helping them feel supported, informed, and empowered to make a decision for themselves and their children.”
Ashley Whiteside, LMSW, LCPAA
Director of Domestic Adoption Program
Adoptions from Foster Care

“In 2022, we observed a decrease in the number of families starting the process to adopt a child or sibling group from the state foster care system. We also continued to learn more about the complex needs these children face after years of loss, trauma, and abuse. There is room to grow in our research and educational efforts, in order to better prepare healthy, resourceful families to parent these children and help them thrive.

In our team’s day-to-day work, we find hope in the kids. When you see a child leave a residential treatment center or a long-term foster family to bravely join a new adoptive family and embrace those new relationships, it’s awe-inspiring. Seeing the kids grow, gain weight, decrease medications, and enjoy school after being placed with their adoptive families makes our jobs worth it. It’s a reality that some children continue to struggle after adoption—we know there is more work to do. Seeing the successes drives hope.

There is so much need. We have families who are willing to raise their hands and adopt teenagers. They are willing to do the hard work, connect with resources, and handle the challenges of IEPs and schools, verbal and physical aggression, therapists, psychiatrists, and misunderstanding from family members and friends. It can be hard and isolating for them. We need more resources for these families—better research on achieving healthy outcomes, better therapies, easier access to mental health services, and more respite options. The needs are endless, and more could be done with funding.”
Jennifer Hart
Director of Adoption from Foster Care Program
Heart Gallery of North Texas

“With Gladney managing the Heart Gallery of North Texas, I see the possibility of helping more children waiting in foster care to find families. I look forward to continuing to recruit volunteer photographers and continuing to partner with other community organizations, as we showcase the children in foster care in our community who are waiting, educate prospective adoptive families about the process, and see children be placed with permanent families. Keep an eye out for the Heart Gallery at local malls, YMCAs, and more!”
Tanya Houk, LBSW
Director of Child Advocacy
Asia Adoption Programs

“In 2022, due to lasting effects of COVID-19, international adoptions from China remained on pause; families adopting children from Taiwan faced quarantine requirements, increased health testing, additional time in-country, and a constantly changing environment; and Gladney was not able to conduct our semiannual Superkids trips to Taiwan to meet and perform developmental screenings with adoptable waiting children. Because of the generosity of donors like you, several adoption scholarships were given to families who faced unexpected, additional costs, due to the quarantine requirements in Taiwan. Thank you for paving the final steps of their lengthy adoption process!

A really inspiring effort we undertook was organizing a corporate volunteer team for the 2022 Special Olympics in Orlando. Gladney’s Asia Adoption team advocates for children with a variety of needs, so it was a great fit. Our volunteer team included Gladney staff members from various departments, along with Gladney adoptive parents. As we supported and celebrated the competing athletes, it was inspiring to think beyond the needs – to the ABILITIES – that each child has as they grow into young adulthood and beyond. Gladney was able to capture the attention of the Special Olympics, enhance awareness of our Superkids program, and advocate specifically for some adoptable children with sports interests to try to find families for them. During the Special Olympics, Gladney also hosted a meet-up for local Florida adoptive families, which was a great way to make new friends! We see and feel the value in fostering a sense of community and supporting adoptee connections.

We are encouraged and hopeful that travel for the international adoption process in Taiwan will normalize, that we will be able to resume in-person Superkids trip to Taiwan, and that Gladney may be able to add international adoption programs in other countries. Gladney Friends like you make our Superkids trips possible, which truly make adoptable waiting children in Taiwan visible to the community of prospective adoptive families in the U.S. Your support gives us (and them) hope. When the resources of skills, time, and funding combine in creative ways, we do our best work of child-centered advocacy and outreach for loving, permanent families.”
Gongzhan Wu
Vice President and Managing Director – Asia Adoption Programs
Colombia Adoption Program

“Gladney has an international adoption program for adoptable waiting children in Colombia. For this program, at least one parent in each prospective adoptive couple must be a Colombian citizen or have Colombian heritage. We work closely with the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) and with private orphanages (IAPA). During 2022, I took time to visit different regions in Colombia and teamed up with our in-country legal representative, in order to improve the ways we serve the children and adoptive families. I help educate prospective adoptive families about how adoption works in Colombia and what guidelines are in place, and I help prepare families to travel to take placement of their adopted children. Thank you so much for your support of Gladney’s mission—I see the difference it makes with each child I advocate for and with each family I serve.”
Ella Smith
Waiting Child Specialist – Colombia Adoption Program
Counseling Services Program and Gladney Home for Foster Youth

“In 2022, we celebrated the launch of our Counseling Services program. Quality, trauma-informed counseling with providers who accept Medicaid and other insurance plans is a priority need of our clients, and I am thrilled my team is now directly offering this support for our Gladney Home, adoptive family, birth family, and adoptee clients in Texas. We provide hope and healing for clients who are struggling.

Neither the Counseling Services program nor the Gladney Home program would be possible without the generous support of donors. The Gladney Home residents need a place of safety, security, and rest. Because of you, the Gladney Home is a place of healing for teen girls in foster care who have experienced incredible trauma.”
Kristin Porter, LCSW-S
Director of Counseling and Residential Services
Post Adoption and Client Services

“In 2022, we continued to see adoptive parents contacting us for support, guidance, and resources as they care for their children who have histories of trauma, birth parents reaching out for help in working through their grief, and adult adoptees seeking assistance in finding their birth parents and making connections. Our team is especially excited about Gladney launching the new Counseling Services program—that allows Gladney to offer therapy for our clients in Texas rather than having to refer them to therapists in the community who have long waiting lists and/or do not accept insurance.

Through our summer Camp Forge program, we celebrated child and teen adoptees forming new friendships, making memories, and feeling a sense of community because they all have adoption as part of their life stories. Camp Forge is a wonderful opportunity for Gladney staff, adult adoptee volunteers, and community volunteers to spend time investing in the lives of young adoptees, getting to know them, and being reminded why we do what we do.”
Bill Porter, M.Ed., LPC-S
Director of Post Adoption and Client Services

“Gladney steps in to fill so many gaps. We advocate for improvement in the adoption field in Texas and around the country. Other agencies do not have the bandwidth to try and make systemic change for children and adoption. Gladney has the ability to spend the focused time and resources on this important work because of the generosity of our donors. In 2022, some of the birth parents we served placed their infants with complex medical needs and older children with adoptive families. These children will have a future surrounded by their birth families, adoptive families, and Gladney Family. Adoption fees do not cover advocacy and the extra work it takes to offer resources, guidance, and counseling for adoptive families, adult adoptees, and birth parents for a lifetime—all in an effort to help them thrive.”
Heidi Bruegel Cox
Chief Strategy Officer & General Counsel
Strategic Plan

“I have never been more proud or excited to be a part of Gladney. With a new 10-year strategic plan in hand and a clear vision for the future, there are new opportunities on the horizon. Having you in our corner allows us to dream, plan, and meet the evolving needs of all those we serve. I feel peaceful, optimistic, and grateful because I know you share our belief that every child deserves a loving and caring family, and I see you investing in their lives to create brighter futures!

As Mark Melson shared in the video message, we are eager to grow in clinical services and to elevate education, support, and training for our clients by expanding research efforts around trauma for the most vulnerable among us. The future action steps of our 10-year strategic plan with include partnering with institutions, evaluating program practices and therapeutic approaches and tracking client outcomes, and providing a delivery method to disseminate the findings to others in the child welfare field. This is an inspiring time to be involved with Gladney!”
Lisa Schuessler
Chief Development Officer


Gladney Adoption Day

The Gladney Home

Aliya’s Story

A Caseworker's Perspective

Pregnancy & Adoption during COVID-19

Lessons Learned and New Implementations:

Within 24 hours of Texas’ governor’s order to stay at home, Gladney was able to ensure that 95% of our employees who could work remotely were set up to do so in their homes. Microsoft Teams (which Gladney had had in place for over a year, though not used consistently) and other platforms, such as Zoom, quickly became commonplace and allowed us to maintain connection with our staff and teams somewhat seamlessly during the stay-at-home order. Gladney has had a business continuity plan on the shelf for some time, but this was the first real test of how it worked in practice.

What we have learned is that a need exists for a few of our operational systems to move toward a web-based platform to allow for seamless, remote continuity, should we have the need in the future. We minimized the number of staff on campus during this time to those who were truly essential for their departments and Gladney to continue to operate. This consisted of Gladney Home staff, maintenance, reception, and a few individuals in Development and Accounting. We were able to track hours and pay employees seamlessly, as well as utilize Teams/Zoom to continue the recruitment processes and training for clients, staff, and interns. However, there are still some questions on how to best onboard both staff and interns in a remote environment, and we will continue to look at processes around that.

Pretty quickly, we understood that communication was going to be critical during this time of uncertainty and developed a schedule to check-in with staff every few weeks as a large group to provide updates. These efforts have continued during this time, which has helped us all stay on track with goals, maintained connections, and provided an open forum for questions and concerns. Supervisors have continued regular check-ins with their teams and individual staff members to address any issues or concerns that may arise.

Gladney began a slow reopen in June 2020 with several protocols in place to minimize risk of working on-site. As COVID-19 numbers began to rise in Texas, we chose to re-close the campus and only allow staff to operate there on an as needed basis. Staff and scheduled visitors on campus have followed very specific protocols to ensure safety and mitigation of spread, should a staff member test positive for COVID-19. We implemented a virtual school environment at the beginning of the school year in 2020, in order to allow Gladney staff to bring their children with them on campus to have their virtual schooling done onsite. A large event space on campus was reconfigured to allow for social distancing, and a teacher was onsite to help children log into their classroom video calls, as well as assist with lessons. The teacher also conducted P.E. activities and science/art projects with the kids.

Overall, I think we are pleased with how we have operated during the pandemic, given the relatively short period of time we had to ensure business continued. Our IT team will be developing a strategy, including a timeline and cost analysis, for equipping the majority of Gladney with laptops to allow for even easier remote work, should the need arise again.

Pre-adoption trainings for families adopting children internationally and from state foster care and orientations for families adopting infants domestically transitioned to a virtual environment and have proven effective, though not ideal. Our Gladney University ongoing educational sessions moved to an all web-based training format, and we have seen an increase in the number of participants. Unfortunately, our AdoptED program had to stop temporarily when schools closed their buildings. However, through a new digital platform put in place, we have since been able to launch a Virtual Classroom for teachers and students to access the AdoptED lessons in a self-paced format.