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

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

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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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

One of Four

I’m ten out of forty fingers, four out of sixteen arms and legs, two out of eight little eyeballs, and one out of four kids that make up my generation of the Twomey family. My oldest sibling is 21, my youngest is 18, and my sister and I are 20. My parents had four kids under the age of four at one point in their lives. No, that wasn’t always the plan. And yes, we’re all so glad it worked out this way—I know my siblings and parents would say the same.

I want to back up for a second, though, and share with you how I became one of four. My oldest brother, Paul, was adopted by my parents in 1994. I was then adopted in 1996. Two days after my homecoming to New Jersey, and just twelve days after I was born, my mom gave birth to my sister, Laura. Then, in 1997, my parents had my little brother, Mark.

Four kids, three years, two adoptions, one miraculous family.


I do have to admit that the only thing better than having three siblings is having an amazing set of parents to lovingly steer us in the right direction, especially when they committed to teaching each one of us how to drive a motor vehicle. It takes a special kind of someone to take on planes, trains, and automobiles with four children in tow (we can say with pride that it's doable)! My parents have always been ready to take on whatever we have given them, including managing our extra-curricular activities, spending quality time with each one of us, and fifteen years of consecutive school graduations.

Our house was chaotic 99.99% of the time. This was mostly due to the amount of fun we were having as a family, such as our weekly game nights and nightly family dinners. We definitely spilled a lot of milk and broke a lot of dishes, and the combined energy of the four of us shook the walls. But the amount of love we poured into each other then, and still pour into each other now, goes to show just how awesome it is to be one of four. My three siblings are my three best friends, and our parents are my heroes. 

I think every sibling group of four (or less or more) deserves to live a life with the kind of love I have experienced in my family. At Gladney, we currently have sibling groups of four waiting to find their forever homes. If you or anyone you know is considering growing your family through adoption, and are open to the idea of a sibling group of any size, I encourage you to reach out to Gladney by emailing Beth Whitacre, our Intercountry Adoption Caseworker, at Beth.Whitacre@gladney.org

Feel free to share this post or leave a comment to be an adoption advocate for the sibling groups of four (and less and more) we are working so hard to find homes for! If you want to get involved by working with Gladney, click here to see our available job, volunteer, and intern opportunities. We would love for you to reach out!



By: Margot Twomey
International Adoption Intern

Friday, July 8, 2016

Pathways Training

My day started out just like any other day; It was 7:30am, and I was quietly minding my own business, studying for my summer government class at Starbucks, when a small child came up to me and started dancing. I smiled at her, said hello, and went back to my studies. However, she didn’t leave, and she didn’t stop “whipping.” It was actually pretty cute. Eventually, her mother gently guided her away from my table with a very apologetic look in her eyes. I studied for a little while longer, and around 8:15am realized I needed to get to work. Naturally, I decided to leave the coffee shop at the same time as my new little friend. As I’m packing up she starts asking me a bunch of questions. “What’s your name? How old are you? What are you doing today? What are you doing this summer?” I told her, “My name’s Margot, I’m 20, I work at the adoption agency down the street, and today I’m going to go sit in on a parenting class for moms and dads who want to adopt kids.” She said, “Okay well have fun!” and hopped into her mother’s car.

I got into my car and thought to myself, how much fun can I really have in a two day long training for soon-to-be adoptive parents? I mean, I’m twenty years old, and definitely not looking to become a parent any time soon. But even just ten minutes into the training, I realized how important it is to understand children who have been through trauma, even if you’re not going to be the one parenting them. After the entire thing, I was very glad my supervisor gave me the opportunity to experience Pathways.

In this activity, one person read instructions to a blindfolded
searcher while everybody else in the room was being as loud
and distracting as possible.
Our post adoption team did a phenomenal job. I listened to personal stories of adoption, and I learned a lot. I learned about the effects of neglect, abuse, and sexual abuse. I learned about both adult and child attachment styles, the growing brain, how parents can be healers, and even did hands-on activities concerning children’s different sensory needs. I learned about how much goes on inside the mind of a child that we simply just cannot see, but need to learn how to look for. And I already knew this one, but it was reiterated in my brain that every kid out there has hope. Every single child, no matter their past, has the capacity to rewire their brain pathways to give them a better future. I’d say that was my biggest takeaway from the day. I’m working with so many kids who society would look at and categorize “unadoptable” based on their pasts, when in reality, beyond a shadow of a doubt, they’re all adoptable. With the right help, every one of them can create new pathways, no matter what they’ve been through. It may not be a walk in the park, but it’s possible.

The families who came were so nice, and seemed to really absorb what the team was saying, even if they had originally been underwhelmed by the prospect of a two-day long parenting class. I spoke to a couple families throughout the training who were not the least bit hesitant to ask their questions! By the end of the training, I think every family felt as though Pathways was worth it, whether they were planning on adopting a domestic infant or an international sixteen year old.

And, to conclude, I want to give a HUGE shoutout to Angie for putting together all the food (this wouldn't be a true Gladney blog post if I didn't mention food at least once)! We had Mexican for lunch the first day, and barbecue the second. The snacks were awesome as well—bagels and cream cheese, carrots and hummus, belvita crackers, you name it! Thanks Angie!!! 



By: Margot Twomey
International Adoption Intern


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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 Summer 2016 internship openings in Accounting, IT, and Marketing.

Friday, June 24, 2016

One Month Update

I have now been working at Gladney for a month. It’s been a crazy whirlwind of an internship, and I can say with certainty that I have learned more than I ever thought possible. I truly can’t imagine spending my summer anywhere else. From sending emails to adoptive parents, to getting documents notarized in Austin, to getting visas for a group of kiddos about to come to their forever home, Gladney (especially my boss, Beth Whitacre) has really shown me what goes on day in and day out in intercountry adoption.

In all honesty, the job can be frustrating. Now that I’ve established myself as the Colombian Waiting Children advocate, I’ve seen how many kids there are who are freed for adoption that I just don’t have time to fight for in my three months as the International Adoption Intern. On top of that, I was recently told I wouldn’t receive any new reports or photographs of over ten of the kids I’m advocating for until I find homes for three older sibling groups I’m currently working with.

However, in that, I’ve gotten to create a new blog for these sibling groups. If you want to read about Camilo and Jesus, click here. If you want to read about Caren, Maria, and Javier, click here. If you want to hear about Maicol, Ana Maria, and Cristian, click here. Hearing Camilo talk about how much he loves pizza and Maria talk about how she wants to be a teacher one day strengthens my belief that these kids are just like any others, and despite their tough cases, deserve families just as much as any other kid. If you’re considering adopting a sibling group and want to see their beautiful smiles and hear their contagious laughs, click here to make a profile on A Child to Love.

My favorite part about working at Gladney so far, though, is that my boss brings me, the intern, coffee. Now, before you think I’m crazy and superficial, let me explain. The grande White Chocolate Mocha with soy milk and no whip in itself was indeed a great source of joy that morning, but the fact that my superior* thinks about me before the work day begins and after it ends means so much to me. She cares about my life outside of work just as much as she cares about me from 9am-5pm. The friendships I have made from that off-hours relationship will keep me at Gladney for the rest of my life, even if I don’t end up here in the long run (either that or my indentured servitude to this place).


Beth (left) and Margot (right)
Being at Gladney has given me the perfect balance of work and fun, even while taking two summer classes on top of my full time job. Beth makes sure I don’t work myself too hard, and even convinced me to join an adult recreational kickball team made up of a handful of Gladney staff! We've played three games so far this season, and I've already scored twice! It’s been a great way to get to know people I don’t typically see in the office.


I hope and dream that wherever I end up next will treat me as well as Gladney does, but maybe cut down on the amount of free food left out for me to consume.

 - - -

* she prefers the title Master, and she once put a braid in my hair and pretended I was a young padawan.

By: Margot Twomey
International Adoption Intern

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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 Summer 2016 internship openings in Accounting, IT, and Marketing.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Good Things Do Come From This

Yesterday we had a new hire/intern orientation that equipped us with knowledge and joy to be a part of Gladney. During this day, however my Gladney story whispered in the halls. We took a beautiful tour of our museum in the visitor center, which I personally loved. It was beautiful to hear how historical adoption is and how many hearts fought to make it what it is today, a loving decision celebrated by many. At the end of this tour, we ended up in a place I have walked by many times in the past 6 years. I knew it was there, always praised the Lord when I saw that another family was created in that room, prayed for the women who left there without a piece of their heart, but never once did I think of going into the placement room. Yesterday I saw those four walls for the first time in 6 years and I was surprisingly emotional, but not for the obvious reasons one would assume. It was emotional because it reminded me why I love Gladney. Because it is my story, passion, and my heart is abundantly full of unconditional love for my Olivia and her parents.

About 7 years ago, I wandered into the halls of the Gladney dorm to be surrounded by women who were in the exact same place as me, vulnerability. I was adopted at two days old, as was my sister, so I grew up loving adoption, and had a deeper understanding of why my life was greater because of the hardest decision my birth mom ever had to make. Regardless of my perception of adoption, nothing can ever prepare you for ridding yourself of all selfish desires for a baby you haven’t even held yet. That’s the beauty of the dorm. We didn’t all like the same shows, we fought like typical teenagers full of estrogen, we cried A LOT, we yelled A LOT, but we all had one thing in common, we were sisters through our decision to prepare adoption plans. And let me tell you, we always found ways to bond regardless of our differences. One of my favorite memories of my time at the dorm still brings me to tearful laughter… think of a bunch of pregnant women “dancing” hip-hop to The Black Eyed Peas. Yes, we requested that we have a pregnant hip-hop class every week and don’t let anyone kid you; we were fantastic! When I wasn’t whipping and naenaeing, I was building forever friendships. I still keep up with 10-15 birth moms I met in my time at the dorm and I met my best friend in those walls as well. Gladney gave me forever sisters and became my home.


The staff that I met over the year of me living at my home away from home became my cheerleaders in life. When you hear staff say that Gladney cares about their clients, they probably don’t even know the impact they leave on so many lives. Throughout the past six years, I have been lifted up in prayer, cheered on with encouragement, and reassured when I felt like I lost my way. I have made a path for myself and my goals get checked off as I go. Gladney has cheered me on as I get my degree in business administration, and now they have blessed me with learning from such phenomenal people through an internship. It blows me away how much opportunity a birth mom has by walking through Gladney’s doors. I will forever be thankful and humbled by the people who have impacted my life in this building. Good things can come out of this, they sure did for me and I pray that they do for you too.

-Katie Reisor, Development Intern and Gladney Birth Mom

Sunday, June 5, 2016

What It's Like to be Adopted

If you know me, you know I never shut up about adoption. I can, and will, talk your ear off about anything and everything adoption for as long as you’ll let me. However, the toughest question I’ve ever been asked on the subject is probably, “What’s it like to be adopted?” Although I typically shy away from this specific question, I’ll answer it here:

I really, truly do not know.

In the mere twenty years and twenty-three days I have been alive, I have never felt “adopted.” I have never felt like there was a time in my life where I didn’t belong in the Twomey family; it’s just not something I consciously think about. I’ve got two awesome parents, three wacko siblings, a fantastic grandma, and a really intelligent dog, all of whom I love more than anyone and anything else on this planet.

Now, I don’t confuse that with the knowledge that I am adopted. My bedtime story growing up was the story of my dad’s trip to Texas to come get me when he got the news my birthmother was in labor. I know my family tree has a couple more branches, I’ll forever frustrate my doctors with an incomplete medical history, and I’ll always have those awkward, “wait, how are you only twelve days older than your sister?” moments. But none of that makes me any less of a Twomey than my siblings or cousins.

Being adopted, for me, is never stressing about having a cool fun fact to share about myself on the first day of school (yes, we still do this in college). It’s an opportunity to educate others on a subject not frequently talked about. It’s knowing I’m extra-loved. It’s knowing that I wasn’t given up, but that I was taken in. But being adopted has never, ever been about being different than anyone else in my family.

So, that's what it's like to be adopted. In the end, there are three things I want you to take away from my words today.
1. I cannot speak for everyone. Everybody has their own feelings and their own stories. I was adopted at birth, domestically, into a family of my same ethnicity. Those are the bare bones of my situation, but you must remember that even identical twins have different sentiments about their adoptions.
2. My parents chose adoption because in wanting to create a family, they realized that beneath it all, they really just wanted to parent to a child; it didn’t matter where that child came from. They weren’t adopting for religious reasons, or out of pity, or to save a life, or become heroes (even though they are heroes); they adopted me because before I was born, they already felt like I was part of the family.
3. Blood and genetics do not define family. The love, the bonds, and the mac & cheese thrown across the dinner table after refusing to do your homework (sorry mom) on an average Tuesday evening do.

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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.   We currently have Summer 2016 internship openings in Accounting, IT, and Marketing.


By: Margot Twomey
International Adoption Intern

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bogotá: The Gladney Adoptee Service Trips, 2012-2015


If I’m going to be completely honest, I didn’t even try to smile for this photograph. I was tired, dirty, probably hungry, probably in pain, and definitely heartbroken that this was my last day with these kiddos.

While it’s important to insert boundaries into the relationships you make with kids you see once a year for a week in July, and to actively assess your (and their) attachment levels to one another, there’s no limit to the amount of love you can give.


I’m actually having a very difficult time trying to condense Colombia into a blog post. How do you put four years of San Mauricio into about 900 words? (Spoiler Alert: you don’t). So instead of trying to talk about La Fundación San Mauricio as a whole, I’m just going to tell you a couple stories.

My first story is about the very first five minutes I ever spent at San Mauricio. I was 16 years old, and still exhausted from an extremely long trip to Bogotá (think: pilots locking themselves out of the cockpit, mechanical issues with multiple airplanes, missing an international flight, unexpectedly spending a night in Miami with four other teenagers, one of them being a 24 year old Beth Whitacre, and chaos, but not the organized kind that us social workers pride ourselves on). I had prepared myself for a long day. We pull up to the orphanage after a bumpy, terrifying bus ride where traffic laws are just mere suggestions, with the grand finale of the ride being convincing the huge charter bus to successfully complete a 30º turn into the neighborhood onto a steep, unpaved road. Eventually, the bus stops and the gates to San Mauricio open. Standing on both sides of the drive are every kid, every adult, and every staff member, cheering us into the orphanage while waving handmade Colombian and American flags as high as their arms will stretch. I don’t think words or photographs could ever do that moment justice. Everybody was just so excited, so thrilled to be there. We got off the bus and were instantly swarmed and hugged by kids and staff members alike. It was going to be a good week.

My next story is about a sweet, sweet little girl named Monica*. She was the first child I met at San Mauricio, back in 2012. She was quiet, and when she talked, she didn’t say much. She just came up to me when I got off the bus and melted into my arms. In that moment I loved her, and not because she needed it, or out of pity or sadness or charity. I just loved her. Monica and I spent most of that week together, making friendship bracelets, sharing stories, playing soccer, and I can’t even count the amount of times I ran across the playground with this eight year old goofball on my back. She was a ball of energy, sass, and kindness. I gave her all the love I could in the few days we spent together. When it was time to go, she clung to me. It’s hard to know what to say in those moments; you know better than to make promises or give the kids false hope. So I told her I loved her and that I’d remember her forever. After one last squeeze, and a kiss from her on the cheek, I got on the bus. Each subsequent year, I looked for her standing on the drive as we entered, but she was never around. I didn’t see Monica again for three more years, until 2015. She looked great, happy, even. And she definitely still expected those piggyback rides across the playground.


My final story of this post is about a boy named Nicolas*. Just thinking about him brings tears to my eyes (which is awkward, because I’m in public). If I could give this boy the world, I would, and just about everyone I know can justify that. Nicolas was in my kindergarten class in 2012. He was a small kid, but he had a lot in him. He seemed to pick a lot of fights, and hated obeying the rules. But he was so smart, enjoyed learning (especially English), and absolutely adored being loved on. I could honestly talk about Nicolas for hours, but I don’t want to make you read a novel. You just need to know that in 2013 he started calling me both hermana and mamá, and in 2014, he tried to pretend to be a kindergartener again (he was quite a bit taller than the other kindergarteners at that point) so he could be in my classroom. That same year, when I went around the orphanage with a video camera asking different kids to tell me their name, their age, and something about them, Nicolas said, “Hola, me llamo Nicolas, tengo ocho años, y quiero una familia en los Estados Unidos.” In English, that translates to, “Hi, my name’s Nicolas, I’m eight years old, and I want a family in the United States.” I watch that video multiple times a week, and I still love this kiddo like a brother. I have photographs of the two of us everywhere. We were joined at the hip for years. When he wasn’t at San Mauricio in 2015, I was a little heartbroken, but I soon learned that he’d been transferred to an orphanage that was much better equipped to help him with his behavioral issues.

I have hundreds of stories I could tell, like the time I was forced to do a Colombian dance on stage in front of all of San Mauricio, or the time I tried to learn how to do the dance the Colombian national fútbol team does when they score, or the time I taught about a hundred kids how to do the Cha Cha Slide, or the time I got my butt stuck in one of the kindergartener’s chairs and had to have two six year olds help pry it off me, or all the times I surrendered my hair and nails to a bunch of pre-teen girls, or the times I handed out new shoes to the kiddos, or painted the elementary school classroom walls, or the lasting friendships I’ve made with the other adoptees on the trip, or watching Beth, with absolutely no grace, conquer the zipline. I could go on, and on, and on.

Colombia has a very special place in my heart. It’s a huge part of what has led me to where and who I am now, which is a passionate Gladney intern, halfway through my Bachelor of Social Work Degree at the University of Texas. Thank you, Gladney, for giving me this part of my life. I wouldn’t be who I am without it.


 By: Margot Twomey
International Adoption Intern







[Hearts have been placed over the kids’ faces to protect their identities. Asterisks (*) have been placed next to names that have been changed the first time they appear.]