By: FW Mag Staff
For more than 125 years, Gladney Center for Adoption in Fort Worth has been a pioneer and leader, improving the lives of children, adoptive families and birth parents. In its history, the Center has placed more than 28,000 children, domestic and international, in loving homes and assisted 37,000 birth parents.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of “Blossoms in the Dust,” a unique luncheon and style show that features Gladney parents walking the runway with their adopted children. The public event, hosted by the Greater Fort Worth Gladney Family Association, will be held at the Renaissance Worthington Hotel Ballroom on Thursday, March 27. The bazaar begins at 9:30 a.m. with luncheon seating at 11:15 a.m. Gladney will honor Ellen Hunt, Gladney adoptive parent and longtime GFA member, with the prestigious Leslie Amend Award for her dedication and passionate service to the Fort Worth GFA.
“The Gladney Center is so thankful for our Gladney Family Association,” said Frank Garrott, president of the Gladney Center. “We could not accomplish our mission without these wonderful volunteers. They are the agency’s hands, voice and heart, and they help make Gladney’s mission come true for children all around the world.”
Much has changed since that first luncheon 50 years ago. There was no international adoption program. Now, children and families from all over the globe provide one of the most compelling aspects of the fashion show. Children from China, Ethiopia, Colombia, Guatemala, Russia and other countries strut down the runway next to a friend born in America.
Gladney’s New Beginnings, created in 2000, is one of its fastest-growing programs. The Center assists the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and Oklahoma Department of Human Services in finding permanent homes for children currently living in foster care. Gladney is one of the very few adoption agencies that can place children directly into foster homes instead of the traditional foster-to-adopt programs. New Beginnings serves families who are able to provide homes for a child currently in state foster care and available for straight adoption; an older child, 5 years and older, available for adoption; or a medically challenged child.
There is no fee for families who adopt a child waiting in foster care. Fees for an older child or a medically challenged child are largely underwritten by Gladney fundraising efforts.
“Gladney families attend a three-day Parent Adoption Training course before they are approved for adoption so each family understands completely what children in foster care have experienced, proven parenting methods for children that have experienced abuse and are going through grief and loss issues, as well as the process of adopting through the state foster care system,” said Tanya Houk, New Beginnings director. “Once the family has been approved for adoption and they have been selected to adopt a child or sibling group, the parents must attend the Pathways training, which is a two-day program that is an extension of the original training and allows the parents to ask more detailed questions.”
Gladney offers Hope Family Support Services, a monthly support group. They also offer a moms’ coffee night once a month and Aunt Edna’s Closet, which provides material items to families receiving placement faster than expected. “For families that do not live near Gladney, we locate support services in their area,” Houk added.
Fort Worth high school senior Krystin Metz was given her own new beginnings through Gladney’s program. She will be a featured speaker at the Blossoms in the Dust luncheon.
Krystin was born into a home where drugs, prostitution and arrests were the accepted norm and an environment that encouraged sexual and physical abuse of children. “A setting where the worst of criminal activity became the best I could hope for,” Krystin said. “Neglect was a constant fact of life, and I was picked on by other children for being smelly and wearing dirty clothes. I was left alone at home to eat cold green beans out of cans. Drug use was so rampant in my home that getting me to school was not possible many days.” As a child, Krystin was beaten and constantly threatened to be turned over to Child Protective Services. “The sexual abuse began as my mother tried to involve me in her prostitution,” Krystin said. “This was my childhood. These horrible incidences are a few examples of what was the norm of my life and the experiences I came to accept as my world view. My current life is something I could never have dreamed of as a child. Now I live in a wonderful place of love, support and encouragement.”
Roger and Michelle Metz adopted Krystin a few days shy of her 18th birthday. She went from visiting her father in jail once a month to a loving stable family. “My biggest adjustment was the freedom to be a normal teenager,” she said. “Sometimes I felt a self-imposed pressure to earn my new life. As I became more comfortable in my family’s acceptance, I began to realize what I had been missing my entire life.”
So far, Krystin has been accepted to Texas Tech, Baylor and Southwestern Assemblies of God universities and is waiting on her first-choice state school, which is Texas A&M.
She says that there is no doubt that she will achieve her goals in life.
“We absolutely loved working with Gladney to find our special child, and by becoming her forever family, change her future for good,” said Michelle Metz. “Everyone was so caring and very professional and not only helped us through the process and the waiting, but also through the tears and the joy.”
Blossoms in the Dust is open to the public, and tickets are available by contacting [email protected]. Proceeds benefit the Gladney Center for Adoption.
For more information about Gladney, visit gladney.org.
By: FW Mag Staff