Adoption is love. How many times have we heard that? And it’s true. But it’s also difficulty, hurt, and grief. Deciding to place a child for adoption is not a simple decision. It can be confusing and hard to decipher all the emotions you’re going through, knowing that your circumstances are temporary, but that the life of your child will be affected no matter what decision you make. Making an adoption plan before adoption may seem ideal for all involved, but we also know that many times that pressure is unnecessary. Instead of feeling frustrated and confused, you would want to have a safe, soft, and kind place for you and your child—the ideal transition as you make the most important decision of your life. That’s exactly what Gladney’s Transitional Care Program brings to the adoption process. It is a safety net of loving and caring homes in which children spend their first moments of life, while you spend your time in prayer and privacy, making the right decision for you and your child’s prospective adoptive family.
Who is Gladney?
The Gladney Center for Adoption has been serving children for over 130 years. One of the best ways to serve children is to help and serve those that carry them, birth them, and raise them. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Gladney’s Transitional Care Program exactly began, says Tanya Houk, Director of Child Advocacy for Gladney, but she has been in her current role managing the Transitional Care Program for many years. Part of her role in this position is to care for the medically fragile and complex children, now adults, that were never placed into loving families. When the program began sometime in the 1960s, there weren’t enough options for families to parent medically complex children, and many of the children ended up in hospitals and group homes. Gladney continues to monitor their care.
In the 1980s, Gladney had its own hospital in which they used to accommodate birth families and adoptive families. Eventually, Gladney closed their hospital location, and due to medical reasons and sometimes legal risk reasons, they chose to begin placing children into transitional housing. This allowed the child to be well-cared-for in a home setting, creating those important bonds, while giving birth and adoptive parents time and space to wait for the legal requirements and issues to work themselves out. In recent years, there have been fewer legal risk placements, due to industry changes.
What is transitional care?
In its current state, Gladney’s Transitional Care Program is a fully voluntary program. Families go through the same process as any other foster family. They subject themselves to home studies, foster care training, background checks, and miscellaneous training. Except unlike foster families, they do it all on a voluntary basis. These families have become imperative members of the Gladney family. Not only do they take on the care and responsibility of loving the children that come into care at Gladney, but they also become the bridge between the birth family and the adoptive family.
Tanya and her coworkers at Gladney understand the complexities of their role and definitely do not take them for granted. As Tanya stated, they take on both parent and social worker-type roles. They manage the grief, fear, and questioning of the birth family, while at the same time sharing information, love, and ecstatic excitement with the waiting adoptive families.
In most instances, their involvement is brief, at just 31 days or so. Whether it’s caring for a medically complex child waiting for the perfect adoptive family, or lovingly caring for a child while a birth mother makes the final decision whether or not to place her child for adoption, this role allows a child to experience love and safety. The program gives a birth family time to make the best decision for their child without the pressure of a ticking clock. It gives a child placed after birth to get love and snuggles until their adoptive family can be located and travel to pick them up. It shows the love and thoughtfulness of Gladney Adoption Center towards these children and the families who love them.
What are the benefits of transitional care?
Research shows that touch, love, and being talked to are imperative for the neurological development of infants. Gladney recognizes that need. In a news release, Tanya states “In the hospital or at home, Transitional Care Parents provide a loving daily touch to babies in need of a family to help nourish and prepare that baby for a healthier future. “ This is only one benefit of transitional care, but it is likely the most important benefit.
In addition to the neurological benefits to the infant, Tanya says this about the program: “Birth parents do feel more comfortable once they witness the love and attention given to their baby by these supportive volunteers. Adoptive parents benefit from the knowledge and nurturing provided through the transitional care updates, and of course the baby benefits by receiving all the attention and extra love provided before placement day.”
When I asked Tanya who she thought benefited most from this program, without hesitation she replied that she felt that Gladney was the definite winner. She stated that this program is full of amazing people, many of them ex-medical care workers, that are always so willing and able to help. She stated that it also goes far beyond caring for the children. And while that may be the most important role, these volunteers are also so willing to help in any way they can. That speaks to the dedication and love that they have for adoption and the parties involved.
Who are the families?
It was clear throughout our conversation that Tanya held high reverence for the families that step forward to provide care for these children and families. She stated that she’s always amazed how willing these families are to do the work and make a difference in a child’s life. She also stated that they are truly remarkable families with a heart to serve, making them all very special people to her and the families that they serve.
In the news report that I mentioned above, Tanya speaks about Laurel, one of their volunteers. Laurel Purdue was matched with baby Colt through the Transitional Care Program where she spent 57 days sitting by his side while Gladney searched for the perfect family for him. What devotion, love, and care that shows for the least of these. It is a beautiful testimony of just one of their many fabulous volunteers. This program provides a wonderful and nurturing environment for medically challenged infants to prosper with love and attention while waiting for their forever family. Placing children with medical needs is no easy feat. Having the gift of time that this program provides allows prospective families time to know better what the long-term needs will be for this child, and if they are a good match.
How is a family chosen?
Many things factor into that decision. Depending on the diagnosis of the child, geographic location may prove to be the biggest challenge. There are also medical supplies, if they have a home that’s conducive to a successful lifestyle for the child, and if they could move or remodel to make it more feasible. There are also employment, income, and financial stability concerns that come with having a child with complex medical needs. Time provided by this program is a huge gift to these families and the children they bring home.
Who are the children?
Even though most of the children that utilize the Transitional Care Program are infants that are awaiting families for legal and medical reasons, occasionally older children get placed with Gladney for adoption as well. The Transitional Care Program proved to be extremely important several years ago when two 7-year-old girls came into care at the same time. Both 7, both girls, both Hispanic, and both awaiting adoptive families, they went to transitional care families. While the first girl was seemingly easy to locate a family for, the second child experienced harder behaviors. Most of the time, these behaviors are outward symptoms of the inner fear, trauma, and experiences the child underwent before entering this program.
This particular girl was proving a bit harder to place. Tanya worked hard, and eventually found a family who was excited to add her to their family. In the process of the transitional care, the girl opened up to someone and said that she had an older brother who had been placed for adoption in previous years. In a heartbreaking turn of events, he had also been relinquished and placed with a family at the age of 7. In talking with the girl, they learned that he had been adopted by a family in another state.
Thankfully, Tanya was able to locate his adoptive family and they were thrilled to learn about her. They decided they wanted to adopt her as well and keep her with her older brother. Research has shown the bond between siblings, and being able to keep them together when it’s a safe option for all parties is always a win-win situation. Tanya was able to transport the girl to her new family in a new state and spend a few days with them as they settled in together. Tanya still keeps in contact with this adoptive family and is proud and happy to say that they are doing really well.
When does transitional care and adoption take place?
It’s important to note that adoption can happen at any time in a child’s life. While Gladney deals mostly with private infant adoptions, it’s also important to note that they do placements of older children through private adoption as well. Gladney’s Transitional Care Program can prove to be extremely helpful in this process as a birth parent is feeling stress that they may pass on to the child. This program will provide a safe, loving environment while Gladney is able to locate a perfect family for that older child.
How To Volunteer For Transitional Care
If you are interested in adopting a child, or in becoming a volunteer, I would encourage you to check out their website. The thought and care for their families shine through in every part of the Gladney adoption process. Not only do they have a comprehensive questionnaire for families considering adoption, but they also provide resources upon resources upon resources. Their reading list for adoptive families is top-notch. Gladney’s commitment to helping families with adoption is evident in every aspect of their care for families. Whether you are an expectant parent exploring adoption or an adoptive family that is searching for a child, Gladney has the experience, knowledge, and desire to help you and your family be successful in every aspect of adoption.
Knowledge is power, and you can gain tons of knowledge through Gladney’s website. They have an entire section dedicated to education, which lists training that is available to their families, in addition to their podcast. They also provide information for post-adoptive support for all parts of the adoption triad. Over the years, this service will prove to be invaluable for all members of the adoption community.
Gladney’s Transitional Care Program is an extension of the proven commitment to children that you can see throughout the Gladney organization. The thought and care in the implementation of this program for so many years have given Gladney the time and opportunity to fine-tune each component of the program. That shines through in my conversation with Tanya, in her commitment to the families, and especially in the way she gives credit and praise to the families who so willingly give their time and love to the families they serve. This program gives those who love adoption an opportunity to serve families and adoption without the long-term commitment.
If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and are looking for ways to serve adoption and the families involved, please look up Gladney Adoption Centers and their Transitional Care Program. Perhaps you’ll find it’s the perfect opportunity to start serving those connected to adoption.Considering adoption? Let us help you on your journey to creating your forever family. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.