Saturday, August 24, 2013

Adoption and my friend, Carol

This is an article I wrote last November about a beautiful woman I am proud to call my friend. She is funny, sweet and caring. She and her husband home school their children and she loves the Lord like crazy!  I hope you enjoy this tribute to her, although mere words can't do justice to her character. 

Everyone Has a Story - Carol Gloetzner
By JC Drennan
There are currently over 2000 children in foster care in New Mexico. Typically, a child is placed in foster care because of neglect, abuse, or criminal activity on the part of the parents.  "The system is getting better," reports Carol Gloetzner, Family Contact for the New Mexico Fiesta Project. "Efforts are being made to minimize the number of foster homes in which a child is placed. There are a lot of kids who need families," she said. Carol, and her husband Ron, have a heart for adoption and helping adoptive families - it truly is their passion! And, like any compelling passion, it's difficult to explain where it came from or how it materialized. "It's just something that's in me," she said. Carol can remember wanting to adopt children from a very young age. "It was always in our hearts to do foster care," said Carol, so when she and Ron, a social worker, married when Carol was 18, it was no surprise that just a year later they stepped into the world of foster care, by running a county home for teen-aged girls.  Later, they became licensed with ARCA to do foster care for mentally disabled adults.
Carol and Ron have raised six biological children, and a nephew. Their first adopted child came to them with Down Syndrome from an orphanage in India when she was four years-old. That precious one is now 22. They adopted their second child when she was two. The couple now has eight adopted children living at home, ranging in age from six to 29. All from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities with varying degrees of disability. In this home these children are loved and cared for. They are given structure, stability and a firm foundation. They are taught responsibility and respect in a safe and nurturing environment. But to Carol and Ron, "it's just family." Carol was quick to affirm that they are not saints, or angels as they have been told by some well-meaning people. They are not "doing a good deed, or trying to save the world, and it's not a ministry." This is just how they have chosen to grow their family. "It doesn't matter that they don't look like us or that they are disabled," she added, "They're just our kids."
Certainly challenges and difficulties may arise when adopting a child, particularly if there are behavioral or physical considerations. But, "the good part is just like the good part with any one's kids," Carol conveyed. "Seeing them grow, change and get healthier. Helping them go through things that they have to go through and seeing them come out on the other side stronger." Carol asserts, however, that there is an extra layer of gratification with adoption because the kids have been through so much.
Carol now funnels her experience and passion into helping adoptive families as a "Family Contact" through her work with the New Mexico Fiesta Project. Her primary responsibility is to support families who have adopted children who are medically fragile or disabled. She has expertise in the areas of: Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, vision impairment, autism spectrum, missing limbs, spina bifida, cognitive delays, feeding tubes, wheelchairs, home schooling, and every kind of therapy. The NM Fiesta Project, offering the only post-adoption support in New Mexico, also supports and trains adoptive families (and those considering adoption) across the state with free classes, groups, and family activities. These services are available to anyone who has adopted, whether private, international or through the state. They also offer an extensive free lending library and a respite co-op. "We want people to know they don't have to go it alone," affirms Carol, "we want to help them be prepared."
November is National Adoption Month and Carol would like to encourage anyone who may be contemplating adoption to take that first step by contacting NMFiestaProject.org. They can help families discern myth from reality while eliminating the mysteries surrounding adoption. For example, many people do not know that adopting through the state is completely free!
Establishing a supportive community with other adoptive families will help make the process smoother for everyone, while building life-long friendships.