Choosing to place your child for adoption is the first of many decisions you will face along your adoption journey. When you begin considering if adoption is the right decision for you, one of the things you need to decide is whether you want to work with an adoption agency. Working with an agency can be very helpful for many different reasons. They can assist you in figuring out the best plan for you every step of the way, from choosing the adoptive family to offering support post-placement. There are many adoption agencies around the country that might best fit the type of adoption you are looking for, whether it be a domestic, international, or private adoption. Each adoption plan is different and requires different resources. I am a birth mother who placed a child for adoption 14 years ago and the agency I used continues to play a huge role in my life now. I would like to share my experience with any birth parent who is thinking of taking the courageous first step of considering adoption.
The agency that I worked with is The Gladney Center for Adoption. I first heard about the agency from my father who heard about it from a co-worker. Google wasn’t as readily available 14 years ago so word-of-mouth referral was the best type of referral you could find. I still remember how nervous I felt making the hour-long trip from my hometown to Fort Worth in order to visit the facility because I didn’t know what to expect. Once we arrived, I was astonished to discover how many choices I had as the birth parent in regards to the adoption plan.
I thought that placing your child for adoption meant a family would be matched with me and I would just hope that I liked them. Not only was I completely wrong about that. but I also learned that I would be able to decide what our post-adoption agreement would look like. They educated me about the different types of adoption and gave details on each step of the process. The staff at Gladney made me feel at ease as best they could with the uncertain future I had ahead of me. They answered all of my questions and provided me with information I did not even know to ask about. They never pressured me to make any decisions I was not ready to make. and the amount of patience they expressed with a hormonal pregnant teenager was astounding. I will be forever grateful to every staff member I came into contact with while placing my child for adoption.
The history of The Gladney Center for Adoption goes way beyond my 14 years of experience. First established in 1887, then joined by the eponym herself, Edna Gladney, in 1910 this establishment has spent well over 100 years helping families connect by way of adoption. Edna was the first to be able to help supply women with the maternity care they needed when planning adoption by organizing the purchase of a small hospital that could provide care and privacy to expectant mothers.
The scope of care has continually expanded throughout the 20th century to provide support, education, and housing to women of all walks of life looking to place their children for adoption. Personally, I lived at the dorm for women who needed immediate housing during their pregnancies that Gladney had available at that time. I was provided a private room and transportation to all medical care that was covered for myself and my child. I also received counseling through a personal caseworker and classes that help with the inevitable emotional toll that placing your child for adoption can cause. I was even able to attend an off-site class that helped me prepare to test and receive my general high school equivalency diploma.
While living there, I was able to connect with other expectant birth mothers and I formed life-long friendships with the only people who could truly relate to how I was feeling. The Gladney Center for Adoption is ever-evolving to best fit the needs of the community. So now that same dorm located in Fort Worth is utilized for teenage girls in the foster care system. When Gladney saw the need for dormitory-type housing for expectant mothers was decreasing and the need for a safe space for young women in the foster care system was rising, they graciously made this transition. It is so natural for them to find a solution for their community in need and more proof that Gladney’s core values are to provide stability and support in whatever capacity the community might require. Gladney has several locations across the country with Fort Worth being their flagship location. They also provide services in regional offices located in six other Texas counties as well as offices in Oklahoma, Florida, and New York.
As mentioned, the Gladney Center for Adoption continues to play a significant role in my life. I continue to be in contact with their post-adoption department not only for my personal growth but to help educate others in whatever way possible. The post-adoption department works tirelessly for all the members of the adoption triad and is well versed in how adoption is a lifelong journey for all. For birth parents, they offer many services that can best fit their needs. They can serve as the point of contact between the birth parents and adoptive parents to facilitate the exchange of post-adoption updates. They can even be a common ground for in-person visits to take place between adoptive families and birth families. The department can help birth parents apply for scholarships to college and they also provide professional counseling services to those in need at no cost.
What stands out to me the most is that the Gladney Center for Adoption can supply whatever type of support is right for you. The adoption journey is different for each individual and whatever type of support you might need after placement, Gladney can help. They also offer a wide variety of services to adoptive parents and adoptees alike. They even host yearly events to help celebrate the families whose lives have forever been impacted by adoption.
The Gladney Center for Adoption places a lot of value on educating the community regarding adoption. Along with a huge social media presence, they also have online education resources. AdoptED is a virtual classroom geared toward correcting common adoption misconceptions and providing students with the information they need to make positive life choices. They also have another service called Gladney University that is tailored for adoptive parents to give guidance on their entire adoption experience. Another great resource available through Gladney University is continuing education for any type of professional such as counselors. The information is also available for the general Gladney community as well. Finally, they also have podcasts and blogs for anyone in the adoption community to help them with the many concerns and issues that come with adoption.
Obviously, even though the Gladney Center for Adoption was right for me, it might not be the best fit for everyone. When selecting the right agency for you as a birth parent, making sure your needs are met is an important part of the process. A lot of birth parents don’t realize advocating for themselves is instrumental in making sure they make the most informed decisions. During my own journey, I learned about adoptive parent profiles which are essentially a get to know you guide to the potential adoptive family. I also learned during my time working with the Gladney Center for Adoption that I could speak up and say what I was looking for in a family for my child and then my caseworker only supplied me with profiles that fit my wants and needs to look at. That way only the families I could truly see parenting my child were ones that I considered, and it helped me be more informed in making my selection.
One of the things to consider before choosing an adoptive family for your child is the level of contact that they want to have with the birth family after the adoption is complete. Caseworkers know the level of contact prospective adoptive families are looking for and help match the right adoptive family to a birth parent based on that information. They are able to help both birth parents and adoptive parents form relationships based on mutual wants and that sets them up for a successful adoption plan.
There are many different options available for expectant birth parents in regards to an adoption agency. The most important thing to remember when choosing the details of the kind of adoption agency you work with, if you decide to do so, is to make sure your choice is one where you find the best fit for your specific situation. Every person’s adoption journey can look different and require different kinds of support. Often, a birth parent might not even understand the depths of emotion that come along on their journey and it is helpful to have someone who can offer guidance along the way. Placing your child for adoption is a lifelong journey and having people there that not only understand what you might be feeling, but can provide assistance along the way as well, can make all the difference. A birth mother already has so much weighing on her heart while assessing if adoption is the path she will take. Any agency that can help make this difficult journey easier for her is one worth considering.