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