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Frank Garrott FAQ
About Me and My Family
Q: You have two adopted children, right? How and when did you and your wife first start talking to them about adoption?
A: They're no longer children - one is married; the other is starting college. But to your question, there was no how and when. Adoption was just a natural part of our family discussion from the time they could talk, question and begin to understand. And while we made our fair share of mistakes as parents, I think we got that one right.
Q: Do they (and you and your wife) have a relationship with their birthmothers?
A: When we went through the process, closed adoption was the norm. Sadly, we have had essentially no contact. Very early on, a few letters from one of their birthmothers appeared.
Q: Have your adopted now young adults signed up for the registry? Will they?
A: They haven't; they might. It's their life. We don't discourage it or encourage it, although I have planted a reminder or two. Like probably any adoptive parents, we're curious, but there would be a bit of nervous anticipation.
Q: Growing up, did your kids ever say "you're not my real parents"?
A: Amazingly, no. I think we're one of the lucky few who haven't heard this line, although they certainly fired other well-placed shots across the bow.
Q: What do they think about you running Gladney?
A: I think it means something to them. It helps drive home how strongly I feel about adoption, and implicitly, about them. I think they're pleased that I am passionate about what I do. And they finally understand my job for the first time ever.
Q: How is Gladney doing?
A: Despite operating in a difficult environment, Gladney is doing fine. Following the economic upheaval in the Fall of 2008, we had about 6 rough months. We rebounded quickly and our performance by almost any measure has been stable for the past 18 months. We are fortunate that we have financial stability, a generous donor base, and that we have diversified programs, so we are not over-reliant on one area.
Q: What's Gladney's biggest challenge today?
A: Growth in a flat to declining market. Domestic infant adoption continues to shrink overall. On the international side, countries shut down or slow down adoption and we have to contend with the volatility. But we believe tough times create opportunity. We have a game plan and the will and capability to see it through.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you face as CEO?
A: Balance. How I allocate my time and focus and by extension, the focus of our management team. Balance between our programs. Balance between current year execution and long-term vision. And of course, balance between Gladney and my family.
Q: How does Gladney set itself apart from others in the field ?
- Our unique heritage
- Financial stability
- 125 of years supporting children, adoptive parents and birthmothers
- Reputation for integrity and quality
- Brand - name recognition
- Family for Life - services supporting families and birthmothers that go well beyond what's required
- Network of influence - our families, as well as our leading roles with advocacy organizations in our field
Having highlighted these points, I want to stress that we don't harp on these areas of distinction. We are working hard to lead our field toward greater collaboration and away from the mindset that we need to view each other as competitors. We believe that "a rising tide lifts all boats."
Q: Does Gladney have a long-term vision?
A: Glad you asked. Absolutely. While we see adoption and related services as our unchanging platform, over the next decade Gladney wants to widen our impact. We are focused on 3 areas: foster care reform, systemic change in addressing the global orphan crisis, and establishment of an institute that will serve adoptive families struggling to cope with life's challenges.
About Adoption and Orphan Care
Q: Why is adoption bad-mouthed so much in the media?
A: Sensational stories sell. We know that troubled adoptions are the exception and the vast majority of adoptive families are content and thriving. But who is going to write a story about an adoptive family that's doing great? Actually, that's where our families' blogs have been enormously helpful - countering the negative media image of adoption.
Q: Do all countries allow international adoption?
A: Hardly. Only about 20 countries allow more than a handful of adoptions each year. The rest, and even some of the 20, don't want to be seen in the world community as unable to care for their own children, even though the poorer countries absolutely cannot. By the way, some countries will characterize themselves as open to adoption, but their residency requirements (i.e., live there a year or longer) make the process untenable.
Q: Our own government is supportive, right?
A: The answer is mixed. As it relates to international adoption, the Department of State (DOS) has existed primarily to make sure all i's are dotted and t's are crossed, which is of course a good thing. What they haven't done historically is to play much of an advocacy role. This may be changing, as DOS was effective in expediting the completion of already-approved matches following the crisis in Haiti. Furthermore, Secretary of State Clinton recently appointed Susan Jacobs as an Ambassador in the State Department's Office of Children's Issues. The hope is that she will play a long-ignored advocacy role for international adoption.
Q: What are the trends in domestic infant adoption?
A: More and more young women are choosing to be single parents. Combined with those choosing the abortion option, that leaves less than 2% who decide to place their baby for adoption. We have to do a better job of educating the public that adoption is a wonderful option. Simply getting to a level playing field with the other 2 options in the public's mind would be a good near-term outcome.
Q: And what about foster care?
A: Although 500,000 kids languish in the foster care system in the U.S., it appears as if this number may be leveling off. Of course, the hope is that we'll see it drop. And there are indications that it may, as it is a high priority of the current administration, several reform movements are underway on a state-by-state basis, and the church community has begun to take up the cause in conjunction with the wider orphan care movement.