Our Heritage

The year was 1887, and the country's expansion westward continued at a feverish pace as land speculators rushed to stake their claim. Railroads forged track through the untamed prairies, leaving new cities in their wake. Train after train brought passengers to populate the bustling frontier towns.

One train brought some very special cargo to such a community.  Abandoned children from the northeastern part of the United States came to Fort Worth as part of the orphan train movement. Those who made it this far west were the "leftovers," the stronger having already been plucked from the trains to work in farms or factories. 

I.Z.T MorrisMethodist missionary minister I.Z.T. Morris (photo at left) took in these children, and working with local residents and the railroad, helped them find homes. Thus began The Children's Home Society, which was chartered in 1904 as The Texas Children's Home and Aid Society.  Renamed The Edna Gladney Home in 1950, the non-sectarian, state licensed adoption agency is today known as the Gladney Center for Adoption. 

Consider that in 1929, when the orphan trains stopped, some 150,000 children had found new homes in what was called "one of the largest social experiments in American history." Orphaned, "illegitimate" children of this era at least had a chance to be cared for and loved. The young, unwed mother-to-be typically had almost no chance.

History of LeadershipEdna Gladney

 Thanks to one tenacious woman, that all began to change. For 33 years Edna Gladney (photo at right) served as Superintendent of The Texas Children's Home and Aid Society.  The tradition of reform and driving mission to serve the best interest of children continued in Edna Gladney as demonstrated in the way she championed breakthrough legislation, leading two fights for major change in adoption practices.  First, in 1936 when, thanks to her efforts, a bill passed that made Texas the first state in the southwest to legally remove the stigma of illegitimacy from birth records.  The second battle resulted in a bill being passed in 1951 that gave adopted children the same inheritance rights as biological children and recognized that they should be legally adopted rather than placed in long-term guardianship. 

Also during Mrs. Gladney's tenure, services were expanded to birth mothers when a small hospital was purchased in 1949 so the women could have a place to receive good medical care during their pregnancy.  In addition to the hospital, the agency operated a Baby Home, where infants received care until their adoption. 

Openness and Flexibility

It's hard to believe that as recently as 20 years ago birth mothers assumed ficticious names.  Adoption today gives pregnant women the opportunity to create their own unique adoption plan.  As part of this plan the birth mother can select the adoptive family and may choose to talk with the family before placement and correspond with them after placement through letters and pictures.  This openness means that adoptive parents now have the opportunity to learn much more about the young woman who is about to give birth to their child.  "Because adoptive parents have information about the biological parents, we believe children will be able to resolve questions they have about who they are and will have a strong sense of belonging," says Garrott.  

We believe that each adoption, like each family, is unique.  That's why choices about the degree of openness are important; what is right for one situation is not right for all.  So whether for adoptive families or birth parents, our goal is the same, to get to know and understand each unique situation so that, together, we can develop a customized adoption plan.

Planning for the Next 100 Years

Throughout its history, Gladney has recognized and embraced the changing needs of society and the shifting landscape of adoption.  As a result, Gladney is an agency with global reach and impact.  Since 1992, Gladney has been Creative Bright Futures Around the World through its Intercountry Adoption Programs, placing thousands of babies and young children in homes throughout the United States.  As a leader in intercountry adoption, the Gladney Center became among the first accredited in the U.S. as a Hague-compliant adoption agency.  The Hague Convention protects children and their families against the risk of unregulated adoption abroad and ensures that intercountry adoptions are made in the best interest of children.

Gladney's Domestic Adoption Programs provide loving homes for infants and children of all races and backgrounds.  In the New Beginnings program Gladney works with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in recruiting families for children waiting in the state foster care system.  "It's really remarkable that Gladney has celebrated 125 years of service, and that we're still continuing to evolve and grow," says President and CEO Frank Garrott.

At the core of Gladney's commitment to families is a philosophy:  Family for Life.  Every adoption is a lifelong journey.  Gladney's Family Services department brings together parent education, home study services, counseling and resources to enhance the lives of all members of the Gladney family at all stages of that journey.  Gladney is also supported by 17 Gladney Family Associations, which provide support to those waiting to adopt and those parenting adopted children.  "We are trying to anticipate rather than react to trends in adoption," says Garrott. "We recognize our clients -- birth mothers, adoptive parents and especially children -- have different needs. Balancing those needs is important because we plan to be around for another 100 years."


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.