Gladney Fun Facts

Where Hope is BornA few facts to go along with Gladney Center for Adoption's celebrating 125 years of creating bright futures around the world.
  1. The Gladney Center had its origins in the orphan train movement of the mid-nineteenth century, when New York, Philadelphia and other large East Coast cities were inundated with orphans and abandoned children. Those orphaned children were sent on trains throughout the Midwest, where they were placed with adoptive families.
  2. When one of the orphan train lines ended in Fort Worth, Rev. Isaac Zachary Taylor Morris and his wife, Belle, began taking the "leftover" children home and actively sought adoptive families for these children. That was the beginning of the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society.
  3. I.Z.T. Morris was among the first adoption advocates to focus on the interests of the child. He traveled and sought out children in need, interviewed prospective parents and raised money.
  4. I.Z.T Morris was a Confederate Army Veteran and a circuit-riding Methodist minister and the founder of the Gladney Center for Adoption.
  5. At 14, he enlisted as a "boy soldier." I.Z.T. was injured and became a prisoner of war. Upon his release, he was given "parole papers" which can be seen at the Floyd and Kathleen Cailloux Visitors Center.
  6. Many of Fort Worth's Railroad companies gave free passes to Rev. Morris, often called "the man with the basket", to help him in his work.
  7. Mrs. Gladney was born Edna Browning Kahly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on January 22, 1886. She was the daughter of a watchmaker, Maurice Kahly, and Minnie Nell Jones. She had one younger sister, Dorothy, who was born in 1895.
  8. The Texas Children's Home and Aid Society was formally chartered in 1896 and incorporated in 1904.
  9. The first Board of Directors was created in 1897and it consisted of I.Z.T Morris and a few other men.
  10. The Board of Directors in the agency's early years were all male. "We have an all-male board," Mrs. Gladney said, "because men are much kinder in their attitude toward unmarried mothers than women."
  11. Edna Kahly moved to Fort Worth to live with an aunt and uncle, Arthur and Flora Goetz, in 1903. Her mother Minnie was concerned about her recurrent bronchial problems in Wisconsin's cold climate.
  12. In 1906 the Board of Directors bought a house on Ave. H in Fort Worth, Texas, where children lived until they were placed.
  13. Edna Kahly married Sam Gladney in 1906, and they honeymooned in Havana, Cuba, for one year where Sam also had business interests.
  14. While in Cuba, Mrs. Gladney experienced a near-fatal tubal pregnancy, which left her unable to conceive other children.
  15. Sam Gladney bought the Sherman (Texas) Mill and Grain Company in May, 1913, and changed the name to The Gladney Milling Company. The primary product of the mill was Gladiola Flour, and all of the flour sacks had a picture of colorful gladiolas.
  16. Mrs. Gladney's favorite flower was the gladiola. She made it the official flower of the Home.
  17. The Rev. Morris served as the State Superintendent of the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society until his death in 1914, when he was succeeded by his wife, Belle.
  18. At the time of his death, the Rev. Morris had placed an estimated 1,000 children with adoptive families.
  19. Edna referred orphaned children to the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society for placement with adoptive families, and joined the board of that organization in 1910.
  20. By the early 1920s, the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society was the leading child placing organization in the state of Texas.
  21. The organization never intended to be an orphanage. Instead, it was a "handling home," where children were accepted for adoption placement and cared for until the right homes could be provided for them.
  22. When the orphan trains stopped in 1929, some 150,000 children found new homes in the American West, in what was called "one of the largest social experiments in American history."
  23. Mrs. Gladney was a social worker in Sherman, TX.
  24. Her husband, Sam, ran for and was elected to Sherman City Council to help his wife with the legislative side of child welfare.
  25. To meet the needs of working women in Sherman, Mrs. Gladney founded the Sherman Nursery and Kindergarten for Working Women. Thirty-five women enrolled their children on opening day.
  26. Mrs. Gladney proved her fundraising acumen when she opened the Sherman Nursery. Among other things, she collected change in milk bottles that were placed in stores around Sherman, a practice she later repeated in Fort Worth on behalf of the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society.
  27. Edna and Sam Gladney moved from Sherman to Fort Worth after a financial disaster: wheat that Sam bought on speculation for $3 a bushel sold for only $1. In Fort Worth, Sam worked for various mills and Edna continued her work on the board of the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society.
  28. Edna Gladney was named Superintendent of the Texas Children's Home in 1927 and planned to stay in the position, primarily as a fundraiser, for only a year. Instead, she remained as superintendent for 33 years.
  29. Mrs. Gladney personally dressed and presented each child to its new parents.
  30. Mrs. Gladney fought two important legislative battles on behalf of adoption. Thanks to her efforts, in 1936 Texas legislators passed a bill that made Texas the first state in the Southwest to legally remove the stigma of illegitimacy from birth records.
  31. Her famous argument on this issue before the Legislature: "There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents."
  32. The second legislative battle was in 1951. Mrs. Gladney successfully argued that adopted children should have the same inheritance rights as biological children and that they should be legally adopted rather than placed in a long-term guardianship.
  33. Because of her tenacity, Mrs. Gladney was known as "that Gladney woman" to members of the Texas Legislature.
  34. Ralph Wheelwright, an MGM publicist, and his wife, adopted a baby girl from Mrs. Gladney in 1940. Inspired by Mrs. Gladney's devotion to the Texas
    Children's Home and Aid Society, he sketched out her life story and presented it to Louis Mayer, head of Hollywood's Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio. Wheelwright was paid $10,000 for the project idea.
  35. MGM paid Edna $5,000 for rights to her story. She donated the money to the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society to help reduce the agency's debt.
  36. The story of Mrs. Gladney's work on behalf of children became the movie, Blossoms in the Dust, starring Greer Garson as Mrs. Gladney and Walter Pidgeon as Sam Gladney.


  37. Blossoms In The Dust was in the Top Ten films in 1941.
  38. Blossoms In The Dust generated so much publicity and attracted so many birthmothers that some babies slept in dresser drawers for lack of crib space.
  39. A Blossoms In The Dust poster still hangs in the Sundance Theater in downtown Fort Worth to forever memorialize the movie.
  40. Mrs. Gladney, who was 5'1" tall and weighed 190 pounds, became camera shy after the movie's release in 1941. She wanted the world to remember her as the slim, petite Greer Garson.
  41. A newspaper article once noted that Mrs. Gladney's "ample figure was the right size for her heart."
  42. Much of the movie Blossoms in the Dust is fictitious. There may have been a Tony; Mrs. Gladney had no adopted sister who committed suicide; and she had no child herself who died at a young age.
  43. At one point, Mrs. Gladney was so disenchanted by the fictional elements of the movie, she privately referred to it as "Buds in the Dirt," rather than by its true name, Blossoms in the Dust.
  44. The child who portrayed Tony in the movie was a 4-year-old named Pat Barker. It was only when Pat came to Fort Worth to celebrate the movie's premiere that the world discovered that Pat was actually Patricia.
  45. Blossoms in the Dust premiered at the Worth Theater in Fort Worth. The theater was highly decorated in pink and white gladiolas in honor of Edna and Sam Gladney. MGM was said to have purchased every gladiola in the state of Texas for the event!
  46. Blossoms was nominated for four Oscars — Best Picture, Best Actress, Color Cinematography, and Color Interior Decoration — but won in only one category, Color Interior Decoration.
  47. The movie Blossoms in the Dust cost $1.1 million to produce; it grossed $2.65 million in box office ticket sales around the world.
  48. Mrs. Gladney convinced her Board of Directors to buy the 35-bed West Texas Maternity Hospital in 1949. She wanted to expand services to birth mothers by giving them a place to live and good medical care so that they could deliver healthy babies.
  49. In honor of her decades of services, the Board of Directors renamed the agency The Edna Gladney Home in 1950.
  50. Norman Rockwell painted a limited edition plate in 1951 called "An Orphan's Hope" on the back of the plate are the words "a child finds the love and compassion he seeks - that's the American Dream. The plate can be seen at the Floyd and Kathleen Cailloux Visitors Center.
  51. The Houston Auxiliary was the first support group of Gladney volunteers to formally organize.
  52. The Houston Auxiliary held its first fundraiser in 1952 at the Shamrock Hotel, which was attended by 800 guests; several hundred guests were turned away from the event due to a lack of room.
  53. At that fundraiser, adoptive parents gave Mrs. Gladney a platinum ring with five diamonds in honor of her twenty-fifth anniversary as superintendent of the Home. For once in her life, Mrs. Gladney was speechless!
  54. The Dallas Auxiliary organized in 1953 and joined Houston's efforts to establish a $600,000 endowment for the Home.
  55. In December of 1953, Mrs. Gladney was featured on the television show, "This is Your Life," where she was honored for placing 10,000 babies over a career that spanned 43 years.
  56. Mrs. Gladney was once again the subject of national press attention in 1954, when the Women's Home Companion ran a full-length story on her entitled, "I Gave Away 10,000 Babies."
  57. Edna ignored conventions of her day and was a firm believer in the early placement of children. She thought common sense dictated that a child and his/her parents be united as soon as possible. She also welcomed children of color, declaring that the Home was "only interested in one race, the human race."
  58. Though there was no international adoption department at the time, Edna placed children with American families in several foreign countries including Mexico and the Philippines.
  59. Until they were placed babies were often given "cradle names." The names of celebrities and friends of the Home were often used.
  60. Mrs. Gladney's fondness for fancy hats became legendary over time, eventually becoming her trademark.
  61. Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, granted Mrs. Gladney an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1957.
  62. Edna Gladney retired in April, 1960, at the age of 74. She died from complications from diabetes on Oct. 2, 1961.
  63. The Edna Gladney Home, as it was then known, received full accreditation from the Child Welfare League of America in 1962.
  64. Prior to its current site, Gladney was located two blocks North at 2110 Hemphill Street. The Board of Directors purchased two old apartment houses in the early 1960s, which were converted into apartments and a recreation center. Administrative offices were housed in an adjoining home.
  65. The Gladney Center for Adoption has relocated five times since founded in 1887.
  66. When the first dormitory opened in 1948 at 2110 Hemphill St., furniture was purchased from the Army Surplus Store. Tables and dressers cost $3 each and chairs were 50 cents!
  67. The Gladney campus on Hemphill Street was built around the original West Texas Maternity Hospital, which was located between the health clinic (formerly Duncan Memorial Hospital) and the Nina B. Reese Counseling Center.
  68. Director Walter Delamarter (1961-1963) established Friends of the Edna Gladney Home Committees, which were later called Auxiliaries and then Gladney Family Associations, or GFAs.
  69. The GFAs serve three important roles: to provide support to those waiting to adopt and those parenting adopted children; to raise funds on Gladney's behalf; and to help educate the public about the loving option of adoption.
  70. The Tarrant County Auxiliary was founded in 1964. The annual Blossoms in the Dust luncheon began in Fort Worth in 1965, when 500 guests came to hear actress Greer Garson speak.
  71. Abigail Van Buren, known the world over as "Dear Abby," toured the campus in 1965 during a visit to Fort Worth. To this day, she continues to be a strong adoption advocate.
  72. The Gladney Center has had only nine leaders in its rich 125-year history, five men and four women. Leaders of the Texas Children's Home and Aid Society and The Gladney Center included:
    I.Z.T. Morris, 1887-1914;
    His wife, Belle Morris, 1914-1920;
    Roy Stockwell, 1920-1927;
    Edna Gladney 1927-1960;
    Walter Delamarter, 1960-1963;
    Ruby Lee Piester, 1963-1984;
    Eleanor Tuck, 1984-1988;
    Michael J. McMahon, 1988-2007; and
    Frank Garrott, 2007-present.
  73. Mrs. Gladney was succeeded by Walter Delamarter, because in the words of Mrs. Ruby Lee Piester, "no woman could have followed her."
  74. Mrs. Ruby Lee Piester joined the staff as director of social services in 1960. In 1963, she was named executive director, a position she would hold for more than 20 years.
  75. Ruby Piester popularized one of Gladney's most enduring symbols - the triangle of love.
  76. Mrs. Piester began group-counseling sessions for young residents to get to know and better understand each other.
  77. Ruby Lee Piester also provided better educational offerings for birthmothers through collaboration with the Fort Worth public school system and Tarrant County Junior College.
  78. The State of Texas recognized the significant role the agency has played in state history and placed a historical marker on the Hemphill Street campus in 1974.
  79. Buildings were constructed on the 2300 Hemphill Street campus one at a time, as funds were raised for a particular building. Construction highlights included:
    Marks Hall, now The Graham Building, home to The Gladney Fund, 1954.
    Dining Room, 1964.
    Johnny Mitchell Maintenance Building, 1976.
    Horlock Auditorium, 1977.
    Fair Dormitory, 1977.
    Nina Reese Counseling Center, 1977.
    Blakemore Education Building, 1977.
    Ruby Lee Piester Dormitory, 1980.
    Sproesser Wynn Dormitory, 1984.
  80. Gladney introduced its 1-800 crisis pregnancy hot line in 1976. It was thought to be the first such hotline in the country. 1-800-GLADNEY (800.452.3639)
  81. Upon her "retirement" in the late 1980s, Ruby Lee Piester wrote the book, "For the Love of a Child."
  82. Gladney was a charter member of the National Council For Adoption (NCFA), which was organized in 1980 to promote agency adoption.
  83. The Texas Legislature enacted its Voluntary Registry Law in 1983. The Gladney Center created its own Voluntary Registry at that time, in accordance with Texas law. Gladney also operates a Sibling Registry for adopted persons born to the same birth mother or birth father.
  84. Gladney began operating with an assumed name certificate as The Edna Gladney Center in 1987.
  85. Former first Lady Barbara Bush, a Gladney grandparent, attended the agency's Centennial celebration in 1987 as a special guest.
  86. A network of regional offices began with the opening of the Houston office in 1988. Gladney currently maintains regional offices located in Midland/Odessa and Houston, Texas; Phoenix, AZ; Brandon, FL; Oklahoma City, OK; New York, NY; Pittsburgh, PA
  87. In 1991, the Board officially renamed the agency The Gladney Center.
  88. Gladney's current international adoption program began in 1992. Today, the Center maintains programs in  Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Taiwan, Ethiopia, Philippines, and Honduras.
  89. The Gladney Center has three domestic adoption programs: Agency Assisted, places Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian and Native American infants into the arms of loving families; ABC, aims to honor the culture and heritage of African American and Biracial children; and New Beginnings, our newest program that places children available for adoption through the Texas state foster care system, and children born with special medical needs.
  90. The Gladney Fund was created in 1992 as a separate not-for-profit organization devoted to raising funds to support The Gladney Center.
  91. The headquarters for the National Council For Adoption in Washington, DC was named The Ruby Lee Piester Center for Adoption in 1995.
  92. Gladney went on-line in December, 1995, one of the first adoption agencies in the country to do so. Visit Gladney's home page and birthmom website
  93. Actress Greer Garson died in 1996. Shortly thereafter, the E.E. Fogelson and Greer Garson Fogelson Charitable Foundation in Dallas gave $500,000 to The Gladney Fund in support of endowment.
  94. Gladney's Humanitarian Aid efforts began in 1996, when Gladney began providing the funding for a "baby home" in Can Tho, Vietnam. The home is managed by the Red Cross on a daily basis and can house up to 21 infants.
  95. Today Gladney provides humanitarian aid to several areas of the world including Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America.
  96. Former President George Bush, and Gladney grandparent, joined families as they celebrated Gladney's 110th Anniversary & Homecoming in October, 1997.
  97. A nationally known and respected adoption advocate, Ruby Lee Piester was inducted into the Texas Woman's Hall of Fame in 1997.
  98. Michael J. McMahon is the first adoptive parent to ever lead the agency. Followed by current President Frank Garrott.
  99. Mr. McMahon is responsible for the growth of Gladney's international adoption programs.
  100. An open-air pavilion was constructed on campus in 1996 and named the Mary Belle Stafford Pavilion. Mrs. Stafford was an adoption caseworker for many years.
  101. The first annual Gladney Cup golf tournament was held at the Colonial in Fort Worth in 1999.
  102. Construction of Gladney's current campus officially commenced with a groundbreaking ceremony on October 2, 2000. The new campus complex includes offices, a visitors center, community center, a building for counseling services and a residence hall for expectant mothers.
  103. The current campus is located in southwest Fort Worth at 6300 John Ryan Drive, in an area that is near both commercial and residential development, yet secluded enough to provide a true campus-like setting.
  104. As recently as 20 years ago, residents at The Gladney Center assumed fictitious "hospital" names in order to protect their confidentiality.
  105. The average age of birth mothers today is 18-24.
  106. The Gladney Center has worked with 22 countries including: Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
  107. The Gladney Center is currently licensed in 11 states, including: Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Arkansas.
  108. Gladney continues to be the subject matter of many local, regional and national news reports. Since 1988, Gladney has been featured on the CBS News show 48 Hours, Good Morning America, MTV's 16 and Pregnant, Good Morning Texas, and many others.
  109. News reports have also been written about the Center in Town & Country Magazine, Reader's Digest, New York Post, Teen Magazine, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and numerous European newspapers and magazines.
  110. The Adoption Department receives between 7,000 and 8,000 calls each year from those interested in adopting.
  111. You can find The Gladney Center on Facebook, Twitter, GladneyTV, LinkedIn and YouTube.
  112. The New Beginnings Program started in 2000. Through the New Beginnings Program, Gladney actively recruits secure and loving families for children who are available for adoption through the Texas State foster care system, older children and toddlers available for direct placement from the birth families, as well as children born with special medical needs.
  113. Auxiliaries were renamed to Gladney Family Associations in 2006 and there are currently 19 GFAs operating around the country!
  114. The Gladney Center received Hague Accreditation by the Council on Accreditation (COA) in March 2008. The Hague Convention is a set of internationally approved standards for countries involved in intercountry adoptions. The Hague Convention protects children and families against the risk of unregulated adoptions abroad and ensures that intercountry adoptions are made in the best interest of the children. The Convention also protects against unethical, unlawful and inhumane adoption practices among adoption providers.
  115. In addition to being Hague Accredited, Gladney is one of the few agencies that offer Hague approved training for adoptive parents. The Hague Convention stipulates that families who are adopting internationally must have ten clock hours of training covering specific topics. Gladney has incorporated all specified topics in the Hague trainings which are available online.
  116. Gladney took its first Service Trip with teenagers in July 2008 to Guatemala. Since then there have been other teen trips to Colombia, China, Mexico and Costa Rica and one family trip to Guatemala
  117. The Transitional Care program has 24 families who volunteer to care for babies. Between the time a baby is discharged from the hospital and placement day, he or she may be cared for by loving Transitional Care Families. These families are volunteers that have opened their hearts and homes to care for Gladney babies and children waiting to be adopted.
  118. The Next Steps Program kicked off in 2009. Next Steps helps birth mothers transition back into the "real world" after delivery. Birth mothers are armed with knowledge, education, practical tools, and confidence to take on the world with a renewed and healthy perspective by focusing on the whole person - mind, body and spirit. It is Gladney's goal for birth mothers to leave us well equipped to take on new opportunities.
  119. In 2010, Gladney took a group of adoptees to Russia on a Heritage and Service trip to visit the region where their family became complete. This was the children's first time returning to Russia after being adopted.
  120. The children were challenged to raise humanitarian aid to provide to their orphanages - the 10 children raised over $10,000!
  121. Cookies4Kids was created in 2010 by Chef Eric Justice, Director of Culinary Operations for Pei Wei Asian Diner, after he attended the Gladney Cup golf tournament. All proceeds from the decadent double chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies benefit the Gladney Center for Adoption's humanitarian aid efforts.
  122. The teens on the 2011 Service Trip to Costa Rica raised over $22,000 in humanitarian aid!
  123. The Pathways Program held its first training in January 2011. Gladney's Pathways training is designed specifically for parents adopting children over the age of two. Adopting older children can bring unique challenges, and Gladney's Pathways training helps parents be prepared to successfully meet those challenges. Based on the concept of "nurturing the whole child," the training covers the attachment, sensory, brain, and discipline needs of children who join their families after experiencing hard starts.
  124. In 2011, Gladney's New Beginnings Program brought The Heart Gallery to Gladney's campus. The Heart Gallery is a traveling photographic exhibit created to find loving, forever families for children in foster care. The Heart Gallery of Texas is a collaborative project of over nine Heart Galleries across the state that are created to increase the number of adoptive families for children needing forever adoptive homes.
  125. The Gladney Center is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a year long celebration starting September 2011 and ending August 2012. Happy Birthday Gladney!


Gladney Center for Adoption
6300 John Ryan Drive | Fort Worth, Texas 76132-4122

Headquarters: 817-922-6000   Pregnant?: 1-800-GLADNEY
International Adoptions: 1-800-INT-ADOP
Domestic Adoptions: 1-800-687-3097
Click here for more locations and contact info.