Meet Mallory!

1. What is your job title and description here at GWCA/CAN?

I am an international adoption counselor at GWCA for our China families! I help families through their initial inquiry phase and through their matching process. I have also done some work previously on our Referral and Post Adoption teams.

2. What do you enjoy most about your job?

It is very difficult to narrow down a part that I enjoy the most! I really love getting to know families in the beginning of their process and helping them navigate the ins and outs of adopting a child from China. I of course love the days when families decide to move forward with a kiddo’s adoption! There’s no greater feeling than hearing the excitement that family has and knowing there is a kiddo on the other side of the world that now has a family to call their own.

3. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Although I experience many more happy moments than negative in my position, adoption can sometimes be very emotional and tough to navigate. Giving families unfortunate news about wait times or unexpected updates on how a child is doing tends to always be a struggle for me. When working with a family as their adoption counselor, I always want to be able to give them as much information and support as I can. However, working with foreign governments is tough and I don’t always have all of the information I would like to provide to a family. I am grateful that I can play a part in their adoption story – through the positive and negative times.

4. Why do you love adoption?

I love adoption because each family’s story and journey is unique and inspiring in their own way. These kiddos are coming from some of the most difficult situations and it is incredible to see how resilient and strong they are. Adoption allows us to bring the love, support and security a family brings to a child to these kiddos who deserve it. I feel very humbled to have played a small part in uniting these kiddos with such amazing families.

5. Fun facts about Mallory:

  • I used to be an intern for GWCA when I was in college
  • I have lived in Austin for almost 7 years now
  • I love listening to live music and going to concerts!
  • In true Austin, TX fashion, I could eat a breakfast taco for every meal
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Meet Kayley Viteo!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received.

Kayley is a true renaissance woman! She has her hand in a lot of things around here, but that’s just because she’s so good at everything she does! Kayley recently transitioned roles at GWCA but she’s made it look so effortless and seamless. She’s passionate about her families and her job which makes for the perfect combination!

So without further ado…meet Kayley!

  1. What is your job title and description here at GWCA?

I started as the Administrative Assistant, and have recently transitioned into the role of Travel Advisor. In my role as Administrative Assistant I helped each department run as smoothly as possible. This ranged from transferring calls to accounting tasks like preparing contracts. A little bit of everything, I like to say!

As Travel Advisor, I facilitate each family’s travel to the country where they will be adopting their child! This includes intra-country travel arrangements, scheduling adoption appointments, and making sure families are prepared for their journey in whatever way they may need. I also oversee our Legacy Journey program, and I have a group of families leaving this week for China.

  1. How long have you been working at GWCA?

I began work at GWCA as the Administrative Assistant on January 15, 2013. I have begun work as the Travel Advisor in the last two weeks, and I am so excited to be taking on this new role.

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

Talking with families, hands down. This is the bright spot of my day – whether it’s telling a family they received their travel approval, or even just answering administrative questions. My goal in helping them through adoption is to make it as smooth as possible, and communication is a huge part of that. So I always tell my families to call and/or email as much as they like, because I’m happy to help.

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Working with separate entities is probably the most difficult part of my job, if only because this can sometimes cause unexpected delays. As Travel Advisor, I try my best to have families travel to pickup their child as soon as it is possible.

  1. How have you grown personally from working at GWCA and with their families?

GWCA is a collaborative environment, and I think that has made me more aware of effective communication, teamwork, and coordinating my day so that it helps someone else – both the families that we serve, and other staff.

I have never worked at a place so emotionally rewarding, and there is nothing better than calling a family to give them great news and hearing their reaction. However, adoption journeys are never “perfect,” but I’m always honored to be a part of them in whatever capacity I can be.

  1. Why do you love adoption?

Every human being deserves a family that loves them.  Adoption gives families the chance to grow, and gives children in particular the chance to learn and play in a happy environment. I think being born into that type of environment is a wonderful privilege, and my work is centered on the goal of extending that privilege to all orphans. Personally, my mother was adopted, and when I found out as a child I remember thinking how lucky we were that my grandparents made that choice.

Fun facts about Kayley: 

1. I am a black belt in American tae kwon do.

2. I have two dogs and I could not love them more, even if I’m pretty sure they conspire against me.

3. I moved to Canada for two years to go to graduate school, and I don’t know what I’m going to do without proper cold weather in my life now. (Side note: It’s true, Canadians are the nicest people in the universe.)

4. My mother and I once drove for 25 hours straight from London,Ontario to San Antonio,Texas just to prove we could do it.

5. I love movies of any kind, and if there is a quirky documentary on this planet that I haven’t seen … I would be shocked.

 

“Kayley is simply one of a kind! She is one of the hardest workers and is always volunteering to take on whatever needs to be done. She does it all with a joyful heart, and everybody around here knows that she is some they can always count on!” –Kayley’s Co-worker

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Meet Kristin Cecil!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received.

Kristin is such a servant-hearted person. You can tell just by being around her for a few minutes that she cares deeply and truly about each of her families. She never tires of loving them well either! Day after day, Kristin is steady in her devotion. Her job is one that is complex, long and hard but you would never know it by her sweet and cheerful demeanor! She loves doing what she does and it’s undeniably evident.

So without further ado…meet Kristin!

  1. What is your job title and description here at GWCA?

I am the Referral Consultant at Great Wall China Adoption. I help prepare, advocate, and counsel families waiting for a healthy referral from China, and help all families in the Waiting Child and Healthy Program complete the necessary paperwork before a family travels to complete the adoption.

  1. How long have you been working at GWCA?

I started with GWCA at the beginning of January 2013.

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

The most rewarding part of my position is calling families immediately to share the good news of being matched with a child. It is such a great honor and privilege to be the courier of good news.

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

The most difficult aspect of my job is working through the different government agencies paperwork process and the wait times for the processing of paperwork. The adoption paperwork process is detailed, complex, and very procedural.

  1. How have you grown personally from working at GWCA and with their families?

As said before it is a great honor and privilege to be working with all the families, and hearing their stories. Each family’s adoption journey is completely different, and I grow personally learning something new and wonderful from working with each family individually. I have learned great deal of knowledge about international adoption world.

  1. Why do you love adoption?

I love adoption because I have first hand seen my extended family and close friends who have been able to complete their families or find their forever families through adoption. I believe is it such a wonderful way to grow a family, and provide homes and unconditional love to children who do not have that support around the world.

Fun facts about Kristin: 

1.  I completed my Master in Public Administration from Suffolk University just in May 2012!

2. I played on the intercollegiate tennis team in undergrad and was team captain my senior year. I won my first and only match near the end of my senior year playing doubles.

3. I couldn’t say a word when I met Pete Sampras in person.

4. I have snow shoed up to 11,000 feet above sea level in the Colorado Mountains National Park.

5.  I lived in Boston, MA for three years, and I will always love the Red Sox and Fenway Park.

 

“Kristin’s positive outlook is not only infectious with the staff in the office but resonates with the many families she works with throughout the referral process. She is always going above and beyond to help them explore their adoption options and to help families bring home their child as quickly as possible. Kristin is truly admired for always keeping her families best interest at heart!”- Kristin’s Co-Worker
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Meet Diedra Connolly!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received.

Get some sunglasses, shield your eyes, and hold onnnn because the woman that we are about to introduce you to is a straight angel! We want you to meet our China Program Director, Diedra Connolly! There are not a whole lot of words that do this incredible woman justice. She is warm, inviting, empathetic, thoughtful, servant-hearted…and that’s just the beginning! For Diedra, there is always a solution to any problem that may arise, and no task is too big to tackle. She’s got a big heart and every time that far outweighs obstacles set in her path. We wouldn’t be the same without her.

So without further ado…meet Diedra!

  1. What is your job title and description here at GWCA?

China Program Director. I manage and supervise all China Program adoption services. I also manage, support, and provide training for our wonderful Great Wall China Adoption staff. It is such a privilege to work with dedicated staff that have a true passion for adoption and child advocacy.

  1. How long have you been working at GWCA?

I began with Great Wall China Adoption in Feb. 2007 as the Dossier Specialist.

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love talking with our families at all phases in the adoption process.  I enjoy getting to know them and seeing their joy and excitement when they have been matched with a child.  The best part of all our jobs is when families send photos once their child is home, or even better, when they come by the office to introduce their newly adopted son or daughter.

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Dealing with delays due to government processes. However, I realize my frustration is nothing compared to the family that has been impacted by the red tape. My goal is to help look for ways to circumvent obstacles or solutions to navigate the barriers.

  1. How have you grown personally from working at GWCA and with their families?

Early on I discovered I have a heart for the Waiting Child Program. I love talking with families and helping them learn more about the children in this program. I am amazed everyday by the wonderful families that have opened their hearts to these beautiful children. The only “need” these families see is a need for a child to have a Forever Family.

  1. Why do you love adoption?

No child should have to live out their childhood in an institution. Every child deserves to feel safe and cherished. Adoption allows children to know the security of a home, the bonds of a family and the unconditional love of a parent. I feel very blessed and humbled to have been a small part of uniting a child with their family.

Fun Facts about Diedra: 

1.  I love to read, go to movies and listen to all types of music.  When I’m at home my radio is always tuned into the top country music station.

2.  My husband and I met in high school and have been married 30 years. Everyone says he makes the perfect frozen margarita and I agree!

3. We are blessed with a 21 year old daughter who is a senior at The University of Texas. She is completing her degree in Exercise Science/ Kinesiology and plans to get a doctorate in Physical Therapy.

4.  I have degrees from 2 of the state’s biggest rivals – The University of Texas and Texas A&M.

5. I have been called a Garage Sale Diva. For years I helped organize huge garage sales to help raise funds for a girl scout troop. I have assisted friends with garage sales to get rid of their unwanted treasures (notice I don’t say junk). As the reigning Queen of Garage Sales I am personally challenged to make sure no shopper leaves without a purchase!

“Diedra is truly THE BEST.  She takes care of GWCA families as if each were a member of her own family.  Diedra also comes around the office every morning to say, “hi!”  She cares so much about adoption and advocates for her families, the children, and her staff.  Her attention to detail and thoughtfulness makes each adoption journey memorable.”- Diedra’s co-worker

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Meet Carrie Schneider!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received.

This week we want to introduce you to someone with such a genuine spirit, our Waiting Child Specialist, Carrie Schneider! People can talk about knowing a “sweet spirit” but we don’t think they’ve met Carrie yet–she blows everyone else out of the water! She embodies such virtuous characteristics like kindness, joy, and humility. She’s a sincere breath of fresh air, and it’s our privilege to have her working alongside families underneath GWCA.

So without further ado…meet Carrie!

  1. What is your job title and description here at GWCA?

I am a Waiting Child Specialist within the China Waiting Child Department. I am here to answer any questions families have about the program, medical conditions, and children available. I also feel very lucky to be a part of the matching process. It is so fun to celebrate with families when they find their forever child!

  1. How long have you been working at GWCA?

I have been working for GWCA since February 2013. I love it here!

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy learning about the precious children who are waiting to be adopted and love talking with families about them! I enjoy communicating with the families and learning about their lives and why they are passionate about adoption. I am also very thankful to be on a team of colleagues who care about each other, have a heart for adoption, and who are dedicated to serving our families.

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

It is difficult to see the hundreds of children who are waiting to be adopted, especially the older children and children with more challenging conditions. But I am learning that there are also hundreds of amazing families who are looking to be matched with these beautiful children!

  1. How have you grown personally from working at GWCA and with their families?

I have learned so much about China’s adoption process and about common medical conditions. Working here has magnified my passion for adoption and advocating for orphans.  I find myself constantly talking with my friends and family about all of the children that need families! Also, working with Great Wall families has opened my eyes to see how many wonderful people there are out there who are impacting children’s lives by adopting and advocating. It reinforces my faith in humanity. 🙂

  1. Why do you love adoption?

Several years ago, I spent a summer volunteering in orphanages in Bolivia. I grew very close to many of the children there and learned their stories. I was also able to celebrate with two children who found out that they were going to be adopted! They never let the photos of their adoptive parents leave their side! They would sleep with the photos next to their bed and carried them around during the day. It was so precious. That summer opened my eyes to the struggles that many children all over the world face: poverty, disease, and abandonment and it challenged me to do my part to make the world a better place. Spending time with those children was a beautiful experience that has forever changed my life and my perspective on adoption.

Another story that has greatly impacted me is a friend of mine who was adopted from Russia. He waited a long time to be adopted and as he was getting older lost hope that he would ever be adopted. One day he was notified that a family had chosen him. He cried tears of joy because he couldn’t fathom that anyone would want to adopt him. His story has given me a heart for older children who have been waiting a long time.

Adoption gives children the opportunity to experience what every child should: the love of a family and the freedom of just being a kid. Adoption turns hopelessness into joy, brokenness into healing, and “orphan” into son or daughter.

Fun facts about Carrie: 

1. I love animals. My family has two cats and one dog. We even made a fun video about our cats here: http://vimeo.com/16557573

2. I am an Aggie. Gig ‘em!

3. Coffee and chocolate are daily necessities.

4. My husband and I do photography and videography on the weekends. It is a really fun thing for us to do together and we love the opportunity to capture the beauty of nature and life in this way.

5. I enjoy running and yoga. I ran my first marathon last year and hope to start training for a second marathon soon. My goal is to eventually run in the NY Marathon!!

“Carrie is a very energetic, humorous, and positive person to be around. She keeps the atmosphere light and a great support as a co-worker always offering to help in any way she can.  Carrie is completely devoted to serving and helping our families, and her enthusiasm is always encouraging.” –Carrie’s co-worker

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Meet Jennifer Taylor!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received.

This week we want to introduce you to someone with a great big heart, our Africa Adoption Counselor, Jennifer Taylor! Jennifer is all things great. She is poised, intelligent, and collected. This partnered together with her natural spunk and zeal for life makes her one phenomenal woman! Around this office she is a tried and true visionary. She has this ability to look out into the distance and start formulating needs before the rest of us even know that they are there. We couldn’t ask for a better staffer than that!

So without further ado… Meet Jennifer!

  1. What is your job title and description here at CAN?

Africa Adoption Counselor- Families begin working with me once their dossier has been submitted. I work with them through the waiting phase, and then once they are matched with a child I help them complete their adoption. I work with 4 countries- DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Uganda.

  1. How long have you been working at CAN?

Since June 2012

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love working on developing new ways and programs to support the children in the orphanages. My “baby” is our JumpStart program which is a really AMAZING education + counseling program we started in DRC. There is NOTHING better than getting those updates from our instructor and watching these amazing children learn and get excited about meeting their new families.

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Not being in control of the adoption processing in the foreign countries. It is quite a challenge to feel like you are successfully supporting families when there is just so much that is completely out of your control. We all just want to unite these families as quickly as possible!

  1. How have you grown personally from working at CAN and with their families?

This job certainly keeps you humble, and as I learn more and more everyday through my job about the struggles of others living in the countries I work with, it reminds me how easy my life is! I see pictures, videos, and hear stories about these children who have nothing yet they are laughing and playing. I follow these children throughout their adoption journey and am constantly amazed at how brave they are- leaving everything they know when they come to the US.  It is inspiring and helps to keep everything in perspective.

  1. Why do you love adoption?

I love adoption because it gives these children a chance to feel unconditional love, to have a home where they are safe, to be kids, and to have a real chance at life. The reality of what these children face if they are never adopted is terrible. I also love the kindness of families to open their homes and hearts to children who they have never met who may be older, or have special needs. They take a big risk on these children and I really admire that. It is always such a great love story!

Fun Facts about Jennifer:

1. Im obsessed with my French Bulldog, Hazel. She is the cutest little stinker!

2. My husband and I got married in Macerino Italy in October of 2011- a year and a half later and I am still having withdrawals from my “Italian” way of life.

3. I consider myself a margarita connoisseur and am determined to find the perfect margarita in Austin Tx.

4. I majored in Anthropology at the University of Texas and am fascinated by primate studies (social behavior, anatomy, ecology, etc).

“Jennifer is the best co-worker one could ask for! She is always there to help other colleagues and she deeply cares about the families, the children, and the in-country staff she is working with. I know her job is not always easy, and she goes above and beyond to do her best!”– Jennifer’s co-worker

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Meet Lora VanHoogstraat!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received.

This week we want to introduce you to someone that works so hard that she makes the rest of us look bad, our Dossier Specialist, Lora VanHoogstraat! By description, Lora’s job is one that requires dedication, hard work and paying attention to the little things. Fortunately for us, she embodies those characteristics!  We like to say that this job is not for the faint-of-heart, and she knows this more than anyone. She goes above and beyond at all times, and for that she is very loved. Today we are thankful for Lora’s commitment to our purpose. She’s a gift to our families and our agency.

So without further ado… Meet Lora!

  1. What is your job title and description here at GWCA?

Dossier Specialist – Advise, advocate and provide knowledgeable information to families working through the dossier process.  From the very beginning whether they are already matched with a particular child or whether they are waiting to receive their LID, I am there every step of the way until dossier is sent to China!

  1. How long have you been working at GWCA?

May 2012

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love making the “dreaded paper chase” process as smooth and exciting as possible. It is the first big step in the adoption journey and I like that I am able to make it enjoyable.

When a family signs up for the Dossier Dragon Service, it allows me to take some of the burden off of their hands. Maybe I’m a little bit of a control freak, but I love that it helps families worry a little less.

Finally, I enjoy talking to families about their little ones, advocating for families and most definitely receiving pictures when the adoption is complete!

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Working with outside government entities can be difficult. Sometimes documents going through the process can encounter delays that are not in my control.  It is difficult to have to explain this to the family especially when they are matched and have a little one waiting for them in China.

  1. How have you grown personally from working at GWCA and with their families?

I have learned a ton! Not only about the adoption process as a whole, but how there are so many amazing families in this world. I never knew until working here that so many families considered a special needs adoption… and from another country! It continues to amaze me every day.

  1. Why do you love adoption?

There is nothing to not love about adoption! It brings a family together. It makes a child who has had no control over his/her life thus far, be able to live a new life with a loving family. It brings hope to families who are not able to have children or who just want to expand their family to a child in need. It is an amazing process and I’m lucky to be a part of it!

Fun facts about Lora:

1. I am from the mitten. (That’s what Michiganders call Michigan) Go Blue!

2. My boyfriend of 5 years and I recently purchased our first home.

3. I have 2 cats (although I am a dog person at heart), named Kiki and Pooka. They drive me crazy, but I love them.

4. I am a very picky eater, but breakfast tacos are my favorite food.

5. I might have an addiction to Groupon. This is not a paid advertisement- they just have great deals!

“Lora goes out of her way to make sure families feel comfortable and secure in the process for their China dossier. She answers all their questions, helps fill out all their forms, and goes above and beyond the call of duty to make sure her families are on the right path. Lora goes out of her way to help her co-workers anytime, and forges a positive attitude within the agency! Our families always walk away from the China dossier process feeling supported and ready for the next phase of their adoption journey!”- Lora’s coworker

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Meet Leigh Anne Graf!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received.

This week we want to introduce you to someone that we don’t think we could really live without around this office, our Vice President, Leigh Anne Graf! Leigh Anne is the kind of person that everyone can count on 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Her empathy level runs deep and it translates into the way she so easily identifies with families and serves them throughout their adoption journey. Leigh Anne can always be counted on to go that extra mile, and in today’s world that’s a hard quality to find. She truly inspires each of us to meet the bar that she has set- and we strive everyday to measure up.

So without further ado… Meet Leigh Anne!

  1. What is your job title and description here at GWCA?

Vice President of Great Wall and Children of All Nations. I have a variety of tasks that I work on throughout the agency. A lot of my work involves oversight/consultation for our international programs and staff, strategic planning, Hague and State licensing compliance, Quality Improvement, Program management, Staff Training and work with the Children of All Nations Waiting Child Program.

  1. How long have you been working at GWCA?

I started with Great Wall in 1998.

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love that each day is different and that I get to share the happiness and challenges of building families. I also love the staff we have here at Great Wall/CAN. Everyone is passionate about the work that they do and we have an amazing crew!

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Feeling frustrated when the bureaucracy and red tape of international adoption adds barriers and additional challenges to children uniting with their families.

  1. How have you grown personally from working at GWCA and with their families?

In looking back at my time spent here – a few key things come to mind:

  • Children are resilient. Never, ever give up on their possibilities and potential – no matter what challenges you think they may face.
  •  Being a part of something greater and more global is essential to being happy with my work.
  •  I feel I have a stronger sense of taking things “one day at a time”, at work and on a personal level.
  •  I have learned that when something changes – it is important to bend with the changes and look for the opportunities and lessons provided by the change.
  1. Why do you love adoption?  

Every child deserves a loving home no matter where they come from, or what challenges they may face. Adoption provides these amazing children with a chance to have a family of their own. I am honored to be a tiny part of their story.

Fun facts about Leigh Anne: 

  1. I have a 2 year old – Avery Kate who amazes me every day!
  2. I’m an Aggie – Whoop!!
  3. I wanted to be a truck driver when I was 10 years old.
  4. I’m a music junkie! Love all kinds
  5.  Family Bucket list:  visit every National Park in the U.S.

“I can always count on Leigh Anne, and I know our families feel the same way.  Leigh Anne is the best person to go to for problem solving.  She is also detail-oriented…which is necessary in international adoption!  Above everything else, Leigh Anne is extremely caring and passionate.  I feel very lucky to have her as a coworker!”-Leigh Anne’s coworker

 

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Meet Michael Wenhold!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received.

This week we want to introduce you to someone that many of you might not know yet, our Administration Director, Michael Wenhold! Michael is one of this office’s best kept secrets. He is well-known and loved by all of our staff, but due to his behind-the-scenes role, you may have never had the sincere privilege of meeting Michael! He is consistently taking care of the staff and working diligently to make sure that everything around here goes off seamlessly. He is someone that will make your grey skies a little brighter, and put a big smile on your face- mainly because he always has one on his.

So without further ado… Meet Michael!

  1. What is your job title and description here at GWCA?

My title is Administration Director.  I function as the Accounting Manager, Human Resource Manager, and Office Manager for GWCA/CAN.

  1. How long have you been working at GWCA?

I started here in June 2012.

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy getting to work with all the Great Wall/CAN employees as they help families through the adoption process.  Our staff is filled with dedicated individuals that constantly go above and beyond to make sure families have the best adoption experience.  Getting to work with such selfless individuals makes my job great!

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

My commute and dealing with Austin traffic.

  1. How have you grown personally from working at GWCA and with their families?

Although I don’t get to work with families directly, I still feel like I have grown from working here.  Working at this organization has opened my eyes to the real problems around the world.  When I think about the problems in my life, they don’t compare in contrast to what others are dealing with.

  1. Why do you love adoption?

I love adoption because it can help a make family complete.  Not everybody has the ability to have children but through adoption everyone can have a family.  Every child deserves to have loving parents and a place to call home.

Fun facts about Michael:

  1. I was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts (where the Pilgrims landed).  I guess that’s why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (and the food)!
  2. I love football.  My favorite team is the New England Patriots.  I have a man crush on Tom Brady.  Who doesn’t. I also play in a flag football league.
  3. I am married to my high school sweetheart.  I have 1 son in the 6th grade and 2 dogs.
  4. My wife and I have a retirement plan to open a bed & breakfast on the East Coast.
  5. I have never had any broken bones.

 “Michael is a great representation of GWCA because he embodies the values of the organization. He is hardworking, always willing to help others, and very resourceful. I love working with Michael because he takes pride in his work and makes everyone’s day easier because he works so diligently, consistently going above and beyond what is asked of him. He’s here early and stays late everyday, and that is just one example in how he makes a big difference for the families we serve.” -Michael’s co-worker

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Meet Jenny Teague!

We are excited to give our families a little glimpse of the staff here at GWCA and CAN, so that you can see who we are and why we love doing just what we do. Every day we come to work and love to connect with our families, but now we are going to show you whose faces are behind every phone call, letter and E-mail received!

Our next staff member that we want to introduce you to is Jenny Teague, our Travel Advisor! Jenny is the definition of committed. You can tell that she loves her job, values her clients and will go to whatever lengths to make sure that families have a good experience once their case comes across her desk. She inspires the rest of us to match her caliber of service.

We think her zeal will be obvious, so without further ado… Meet Jenny!

  1. What is your job title and description here at GWCA?

I am the Travel Advisor and oversee travel for our China program, our CAN program and our Legacy Journey program. I handle all inner-country arrangements, from making sure families attend their adoption appointments to helping them schedule their international flights to and from whatever country they’re going to in order to be united with their child! I help families gather all their travel documents to take with them, and make sure they understand the culture in the country that pertains to them.

I work closely with our inner-country reps to make sure that all families are well taken care of when they land to complete the adoption of their child or children. These reps make the finalization of the adoption necessary, and more enjoyable, as adoption is stressful, but exciting for the families and for me. Having our inner-country reps is what sets us apart from other agencies.

Our Legacy Journey program is an awesome program where I am honored to send families back to China with their adopted child or children, usually about 5-6 years after adoption. This program brings particular joy to me because I am able to connect with families who have adopted many years ago, and want to show their child their homeland. There are no adoption meetings to attend. There are no schedules to meet, except tours. This is a time they get to share in their child’s heritage and just learn where their child came from and it’s a time for their adopted children to learn more about their culture through immersion. I arrange all the elements of these trips, and even get to arrange visits to their child’s orphanage, if they desire to go.

  1. How long have you been working at GWCA?

I have been with GWCA/CAN since April 2010.

  1. What do you enjoy most about your job?

There is nothing better than hearing the happy squeals, laughter and tears when I tell a family it’s time to travel to their country. This part of the process is the hardest from what families tell me. It means they’ve been matched with their child and that they are now waiting to travel. So, I get to turn a family (who has only looked at pictures) into uniting them with their child by hugging them!

So, being able to give them actual travel dates is the best part of my job. The phone calls are fun, exciting and meaningful, where I get every reaction in the book from, laughing, crying, shock, etc.

  1. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

The most difficult aspect of my job is dealing with foreign entities, such as the Embassy and the local government of the country the parents are adopting from. It’s sometimes a very long process, and I help my families understand by making sure they understand the process of their inner-country experience, while explaining that I have to abide by the rules governed by the Embassy and local governments. Each country’s Embassy and local government is different, and I have to make sure I’m treating each representative with respect and honor, as countries feel it is our privilege to adopt from their country.

This part of the process can sometimes delay travel for the families, and because they aren’t familiar with dealing with foreign entities, it’s my job to make them feel at ease and give them realistic timelines.

  1. How have you grown personally from working at GWCA and with their families?

Working at GWCA/CAN has definitely changed my life for the better. I have never had the honor to be part of such an amazing experience. I feel connected to the families I work with, and while I’m an employee here, I feel a bond with all my families through this process, and when they are happy, I am honored to share in that joy. When they’re sad, I enjoy making them feel better. When families are anxious and feel like they might never travel, I give them pep talks. This job allows me to use my ability to help people feel better in all the different emotions that come with adoption.

This job has shown me that there is still hope in the world, and I see what I call little miracles every day. Seeing families united, and being part of the process when they’re in country is simply amazing, and knowing that there are families out there who love their children before even meeting them is a rewarding feeling. I am kinder, more patient and feel more humble than I ever have in my life. This is not just a job to me, but a mission, and when I was given the opportunity to work here, I felt like I was being given the opportunity to learn more about myself.

I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else, and no matter what the day brings, I know in the end, I’m helping families be Forever Families. Nothing beats that!

  1. Why do you love adoption?

I love adoption because it brings a feeling of warmth, awe and happiness. It shows that the world has some amazing people in it, and that there are still people out there who are filled with unconditional love, especially in international adoption. There are so many unknowns and these families know that and don’t care what the unknowns might be. They only know that their son or daughter is out there, in whatever country, just waiting for them. They see a picture and fall in love. They get an update, which most of the time is not very informative, and they fall in love. They open their hearts and minds and never look back. They know in their hearts that their son or daughter is there, and no matter what, they love them without hesitation.

I also love adoption because it means there’s one less orphan in the world. Our goal is to have no orphans and no need for adoption, but until that time occurs, our families will continue to find their sons and daughters all over the world and give them the life they could never hope to have in their current situations.

Fun facts about Jenny:

1.    I have 2 children – my son is 19, a Marine, and newly married, and stationed in California completing his training to be a linguist. My daughter is 15, a dancer and singer and we have a ton of fun, being that it’s only her and I now. They are the joys in my life.

2.   I have 4 kitties, and 1 puppy. I know. I know. I must be crazy, but I have a soft spot for animals, and I adopt them all from the Humane Society here in Austin. I will say that my new puppy was left on my doorstep with a note attached. I opened the door and opened the box she was in and never looked back. She is a wonderful addition to our animal farm!

3.   I am a singer, and love the opportunity to sing for anyone who wants to listen! My daughter is following in my footsteps and wants to go on the X Factor before she graduates high school.

4.   I love reading, and typically read 3-4 books a week on my Kindle Fire. It’s how I wind down from my work day. I was a book snob for a long time, but once you get a Kindle, you never look back!

5.   Adoption has touched my life as well. My children’s Dad was adopted, and I was lucky to help him find his birth mother, brothers, and learn more about this heritage. My father was also adopted and he was able to find his birth mother, and his birth sister, who I had the honor of meeting when I was younger.

“Families are very important to Jenny. She dedicates her time and heart into helping families transition smoothly through the travel process. She makes a personal effort to ensure families picking up their little ones- whether it is in China, Africa or another country- have the absolute best experience!” –Jenny’s coworker

Check back next Wednesday to see who our next staffer profiled will be! 

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