Friday, March 24, 2017

How to Make the Most of Your Time at Gladney

As a Gladney intern with the Next Steps program I came in wanting to know about all things Gladney as soon as I could learn. There are so many facets to Gladney that I quickly realized this would take time. I started this process by attending whatever trainings I was allowed. This included Domestic Orientation, Pathway’s, New Hire Orientation, and legal training. After attending these trainings I was able to put a lot more of the pieces together of the puzzle that is Gladney. While still many pieces were missing in the “1000” piece puzzle, I was determined to turn over all the pieces and see where they go.  When I created my learning contract at the beginning of the semester I took risks to make myself branch out, because if it is part of the contract, I have to complete it, right? As a high functioning introvert I knew it would take this to make me try new things and meet new people. Since I had to meet certain criteria on my contract, I began networking with people in different departments to shadow them for a time. This was fantastic. While it was a little anxiety producing, it brought out so much information about so many topics that I didn’t even realize. With Gladney being so large you may wonder how I did this.

This is where I am going to tell you how to maximize your time at Gladney. It is simple. Eat lunch in the commons.  How easy is that! You can bring your lunch or grab something and come back. I recommend getting there around 12. This is when the largest number of people tend to eat their lunch. Why is this so great you might ask? When in the lunchroom you meet people from all departments. Meal times are always times of fellowship with families, and this is no different. You not only hear about jobs, but also about families, hobbies, and what people are binge watching too. Building these relationships at meal time makes it much easier to ask questions about specific jobs, or favors for shadowing opportunities. It is relaxing; everyone is on the same ground. It is hard to not feel intimidated at Gladney because I almost never hear negative things about people or the work being done, which makes it difficult to ask for things (at least for me), but in the lunch room I have always felt welcomed and there is always a place at the table and a warm inviting smile.
MSW Intern for Next Steps & Post Adoption

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Dream Come True!

Have you ever had a moment that you thought was insignificant, but it ended up shaping your life and career in a way you never anticipated? That’s how this dream all started! I was thirteen years old, and a group of children from a Russian orphanage traveled to the United States for a summer camp. These precious children were hosted by families interested in adopting them, loving them and giving them a bright future! Many families adopted, and during that time, I witnessed some of the most authentic, selfless sacrifices and love I could ever imagine. My heart broke that day for the fatherless.
Fast forward a few years… okay maybe more like ten, I began passionately pursuing a career in Social Work, knowing my emphasis was going toward children and families. Though I knew there was a need for social workers in CPS, I dreamed of being in an adoption agency. In 2014, my parents were empty nesters and felt called to foster. We were placed with a sweet eight month old boy, who never left our care! Our hearts grew as our family expanded. In May of 2016 he became a part of our family forever through the gift of adoption. I have an older sister who is 28, I am 26, my younger sister is 25 and now we have a 3 year old, who is an uncle to my 2 year old niece! Our family is unique, and has a slightly humorous story to tell, but we would not have it any other way! He brings joy and is a total delight to our life! 

Adoption to me is just that, it’s a gift! It is sacrificial, selfless and beautiful.

Here I am, living out my dream! I am interning full time at The Gladney Center for Adoption with the privilege of working with expecting mothers living in the dorm! It gives me an entirely beautiful perspective on the bravery, love, sacrifice and gift that is adoption. I consider it a joy to walk through a season of sacrifice with these amazing women, and forever will be changed by knowing them.

Gladney has provided an environment of comfort for these women walking through their pregnancy and has embraced them where they are at! I am grateful for the small percentage of time I get with them, and daily remind them “You are Brave"! I hope that they will continue to remain brave in their life and know that they have made a decision that is life-giving to another family that is so ready to create their family!

-Residential Dorm Intern
Lauren Marburger

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Kiki! A New Beginnings Intern at Gladney!

Hey Gladney friends and family!

My name is Kiki and I am a new intern at Gladney in the New Beginnings Program! I am a Human Development and Family Sciences major at UNT and will be graduating this upcoming May! I have been interning here at Gladney for a little over a month now and I am absolutely loving my time here so much! I think what makes the Gladney internship the best internship out there, is that I am truly seen and treated as apart of the team!

I went into this semester thinking that no matter where my internship would be, that I would do nothing more than go on coffee runs and make copies. I was SO wrong because I had no idea that I would be so fortunate enough to be an intern at Gladney. Being a Gladney intern is just like being a actual employee here. Silly but true, I actually got a desk and a computer my first day and that blew ME away!

My mentor and I are a match made in heaven! We are both very alike and think the same way, so we work so well together and HR did an awesome job placing me with her and in the New Beginnings Program. She really took her time out of her very busy schedule to make time to walk me through the office setting at Gladney and it helped so much.

My second week at Gladney my mentor asked if I was comfortable enough to assist a family with the transition of having adopted children in the home along with their biological children. The adopted children come from a series of hard backgrounds and the transition can be hard, which it is for this family. Every week since I started at Gladney, I get to spend a few hours each week in their home in their daily activities. I truly enjoy being an extension of Gladney to this family who are clients.

I absolutely love and appreciate that Gladney allows me to assist families, but what I love most about this amazing organization is that their love and support does not end after placement or finalization for families. If a family needs any kind of assistance or support even after finalization, Gladney will always do whatever they can to assist a Gladney family, and that is something that means a lot to me to be working for this awesome organization!

Until next time,

New Beginnings Intern-Kiki C.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Georgia Roadblock

Georgia Roadblock

This past week has been made up of forms, forms, and more forms. Don'g get me wrong, I love paperwork and filing, it is what I am good at. Even so, finding the right forms to request a child abuse clearance in not easy when the state alters requirements every six months without notice. As a result of a sudden change, I uncovered a policy issue that can only be described as bad.

Georgia has been on my mind constantly and not in a good way. I discovered that as of July1, 2016 there is no longer a "direct method by which a private child welfare agency can obtain CPS information for private foster and adoptive families" (GADFCS, 2016). This poses as issue for Hague regulations which requires child abuse clearance from every state in which an adoptive parent has resided. With nothing but frustration, I continue to look for a solution to this policy issue and still do not see one. This hurdle has been a major roadblock in the way of preparing family's documents and it continues to be one. I have called every number the state of Georgia will release to find information but each one has led me to another dead end. Georgia may be glad it's on my mind but I want it out of my mind.

After talking with Beth, the intercountry adoption caseworker, she emailed the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) intercountry group to see if anyone has encountered the same problem. As it turns out, there are many individuals facing the same obstacle but there has been no success so far with obtaining the clearance. 

What I have learned from this experience is the value of using your resources and co-workers. Even though I did not receive the  answer I was hoping for, I discovered that I am not the only one struggling with this new policy. I have also learned that giving up is never the answer. For now, I will continue to search for a solution and will not give up until I find one. Even with this recent trial, I know that International Adoption is where I am meant to be and I hope to work toward changing this policy so that my job can be simplified in the future.

By: Alex Gideon
International Adoption Colombia Intern

      It was only appropriate to use the Georgia font for this post.
      Only one peach was harmed in the making of this blog (my snack).

If you have any questions about adoption, know someone facing an unplanned pregnancy, are considering adoption yourself, or just want to get involved and/or educated on the subject, please don’t hesitate to contact Gladney. We would love to talk to you!

Find out how you can become a Gladney intern or volunteer here. We currently have Fall 2016 internship openings in Human Services as well openings in IT, and Marketing.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Hi, I'm Alex

A Few Weeks In

      Hi, my name is Alex and i'm learning the ropes of International Adoption from Colombia. I am a Senior at Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!) getting my undergrad degree in Social Work with a minor in Child Development. I fell in love with the idea of working in foster care and adoptions when my brother and sister-in-law decided to foster three children not too long ago. So far I have been able to see some exciting things here at Gladney and I am thrilled I get to share my experiences with you. 

During my first few weeks here I have learned what and Apostille is and how to request one (even from Canada!), shadowed a New Beginnings home visit and Attended new employee orientation, domestic infant adoption orientation and pathways Training. I have gained so much knowledge just from these few events and this is not even the full list of what I have completed.

One accomplishment I am most proud of would be learning how to get a document authenticated in Canada. This may not sound like the most glorious assignment, but it was an adventure none the less. Canada does not comply with the Hague Convention so getting a document Apostilled is not an easy task. This road block led me to a million different websites trying to find a Canadian courier who would take a document to the foreign affairs office in Ontario Canada. Now, as a brand new intern I was already confused about the Apostille process and on top of that I had to learn what a courier was and how to find one. After days and hours of searching, I found the golden number, I called Canada and Shawn picked up. Shawn told me, "Oh it's easy aye," and the rest is history. The document is currently on its way back to the Gladney Center with a seal of authentication.

One of my more recent experiences here at Gladney would be attending Pathways Training. Unfortunately, because of of school, I was only able to attend the second day of training. Even with only experiencing half of the training, I feel as though I have a better sense of the traumatic backgrounds of the children we serve. The biggest concern of bringing home a child with a traumatic background would be to make sure they feel safe in the home and with the people around them. One concept that stuck with me through the training would be that this process of felt safety in a child can take a long time. I think that this training was more than beneficial for me to see as an intern because it gave me insight to a part of the adoption process I don't often get to see in my department.

So far, I wouldn't change my placement here at Gladney for anything. I am given new opportunities and experiences every day that I spend here. Since I have been here, I have yet to meet a Gladney staff member I do not enjoy being around. I can truly say I feel welcomed into to Gladney family and I cannot wait to see what these next two semesters (and beyond) have in store for me!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

If you have any questions about adoption, know someone facing an unplanned pregnancy, are considering adoption yourself, or just want to get involved and/or educated on the subject, please don’t hesitate to contact Gladney. We would love to talk to you!

Find out how you can become a Gladney intern or volunteer here. We currently have Fall 2016 internship openings in Human Services as well openings in IT, and Marketing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I'm sure they are sick of hearing "I'm so excited"

My name is Mikayla Ollie and I have been an intern at Gladney for 3 weeks. I am interning from the University of North Texas while in my last semester of my degree for Human Development and Family Sciences. Before joining Gladney, my idea of my future career was a bit broad. I just wanted to help people. I wasn't sure how; I wasn't sure where; I wasn't sure of much. I spent most of my college career working HR for a cut-throat, dog-eat-dog, 'high-end' retail company. Although I enjoyed my HR job, I really didn't want to continue with that company. As I looked for internships in the HR field, nothing really fed my hunger to give back to the community. Then a miracle happened....

I found Gladney!!

Gladney has been nothing but great since I got here. The members of the organization are so friendly. There is so much training involved to ensure you are prepared for the work. There's so much information they give you about all the services provided here. The office cubicles don't stress me out like my popcorn-yellow office did at my old job. Before I even started, I found myself repeating "I'm so excited" to the intern HR coordinator. I'm 3 weeks in, and I never want to leave.

I am currently interning with the Next Steps department, where I work with my mentor Lisa to help the birth mothers be prepared to take their next steps in life. Pregnancy is a life changing experience, but we don't want these women to think this is the end of the world. We want to help them get their GEDs. We want to help them get a driver license or US citizenship. We want to help our clients set goals and realize they have a bright future ahead.

But what is EXTRA amazing about interning with Gladney is I have the opportunity to explore more than my position. I have the chance to spend a day with our AdoptEd program educating high school kids on how adoption is a great option. I have a chance to spend a day with Outreach talking to doctors offices about how to properly talk to their clients about the option of adoption. I have the chance to build a presentation on healthy living and present it to the birth mothers living in our dorm on campus. The opportunities are emerging left and right.

I'm so excited to be interning with Gladney. I know I will walk out of here with SO MANY things to put on my resume, so much experience under my belt, and a better idea of what kind of career I want.
If you want to get involved by working with Gladney, click here to see our available job, volunteer, and intern opportunities. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

This is Just the Beginning

The ending of a chapter has fallen upon me, but I know that the next one is going to be just as fruitful as the last. Before I leave however, I wanted to share with you the things that have stuck with me from this internship:

You are not just an intern when you come to Gladney’s internship program. When you walk through the doors to be a part of this workplace, you become part of the family that is Gladney. People take time to know you, to encourage you, to celebrate with you, and to help you grow. There is not a doubt in my mind that you become a part of the team fully when you intern here. You will be lucky if you find such a loving and uplifting workplace aside from Gladney. (I am positive they’re out there, I am just biased.J)

Don’t be shy, MAKE FRIENDS!! Of all of the struggles Jesus could have given me, I got the socially awkward one (among many other goofy quirks that make me uniquely and wonderfully made), so believe me, I get how hard it is to just put yourself out there. However, one of the things I have loved about my internship is the friendships I have made or grown over the summer. I met many amazing young women interning with me who all have such beautiful gifts that make them blossom in this field. I will genuinely miss seeing each of them and getting to know their hearts. But one of the things that make interning here so comfortable is that the employees here are just as spirit filled and loving. They don’t bite, so get to know their friendly faces as well; they’ll be great role models to grow with!

Passion blossoms into advocacy. I got a star from last month’s staff meeting (they’re like warm and fuzzies/encouragement notes) and I was called something I never really thought about; an advocate. When I think of an advocate, I think of someone in the front lines fighting for a cause; I certainly don’t think of me. But when I think further, I think of Gladney employees being exactly that and I am humbled to be considered along with them, a fighter for my passion; adoption. Watching through shadowing opportunities, I have seen countless moments where Gladney employees have advocated for children, birth parents, and adoptive parents. To even be a part of what this organization daily arms up for, leaves me in awe. So remember, you are an advocate, a champion, a supporter, a fighter Creating Bright Futures through Adoption! Never think that anything you do is not helping the cause. J

There are three perspectives that create the identity of adoption. As an adoptee and a birth mom, I came into this internship understanding the bittersweet, the joyful, and the pain. I knew a little of the perspective of what the adoptive parents go through, from hearing my parents tell me about their experience adopting my sister and I, but after getting to sit in on Domestic Orientation and Pathways Training, I got to witness some of these amazing couples’ hearts and stories. I truly believe that being an adoptive parent is a calling, and that these people want nothing more than to give a child an abundantly opportune life filled with love. But I was reminded that it is not an easy path. It is a waiting game full of emotions and these couples drudge through that waiting season because they already love that child they haven’t even met or been matched with yet. These children are so desired and loved by all of the people that come into play during their adoption journey.

The birth mothers that work with Gladney are not forgotten, they are just as important as any other client. I have watched so many people share the beauty and strength of the birth mothers they have been blessed to know. Not only are the employees raving about how amazing birth mothers are, but the adoptive parents that I met during small groups in the Domestic Orientation, love that Gladney gives support to birth moms. They want to uplift and encourage these women because they adore birth moms. I cannot speak for all of the birth moms in the world, but I can speak as a birth mom and say that the stigma of birth moms is not the reality and that people like Gladney employees are making the positive movement a reality. Birth moms are selfless, strong, and beautiful and I am proud of what my sisters-through-adoption stand for.

I grew up with a lot of adoptees and I have been blessed to get to know some incredible Gladney babies during my internship that have reminded me how beautiful the culture of adoption is from the perspective of an adopted child. Adoption is a legacy that adoptees are proud to declare. Knowing as you grow up that you were adopted creates this positive outlook on birth moms, family, and a genuine understanding of what love REALLY looks like.  Hearing an adoptee tell their story almost always has the same underlying passionate theme, they are loved and they are so thankful for the life their birth mother selflessly gave them. Every story is filled with its own details, but that’s what makes adopted children so uniquely wonderful. Every child deserves a future family and every child deserves to have an inextinguishable joy created by adoption.

You get what you pour out. In other words, this experience will be whatever you make of it. The tools are all accessible to you and there are SO many people who will help you along the way, you just have to gear up and venture out. I came into this internship with one expectation, to grow. I am now coming out with clarity of what I want to do with my degree, professional confidence, friendships, memories, a new diet plan thanks to all of the free food (but seriously…), and so much more. Gladney has impacted my life through this summer in ways I never thought were possible in just 8 weeks. So don’t be afraid to ask people if they have any time to show you what they do, ask people if they need help with anything, and when you’re thrown a project that you have no idea how to do, be honest that you don’t know how to do that YET, but you WILL learn.

Lastly, enjoy every moment, because all good things must temporarily come to an end. If you are like me, your last day will be filled with bittersweet emotions because you just don’t want to leave yet. So when you are feeling bummed that you have to leave this organization you fell in love with, remember that it's never goodbye here at Gladney. If you want to be here, there are so many ways to fulfill that desire through volunteering, advocating, or even working here and I truly hope that not only Gladney, but that the Adoption world will forever have a piece of your heart.

By Katie Reisor
 Gladney birth mom, adoptee, and intern