When Konnie Guenther Gregg joined Lutheran Social Services as an infant adoption worker on October 10, 1975, she had no idea that this position – or calling – would remain her passion for 40 years. Konnie has held a pivotal role in LSS/Upbring adoption programs since that first day in October – including infant adoption, older child adoption through CPS, supervising the infant foster care program, working with birthmothers and then exclusively in international adoption since 1990.
According to Konnie, adoption in 2015 is a whole different world than it was just two generations ago, when it was cloaked in secrecy and silence. When her then 19-year-old sister placed a baby for adoption, it sparked Konnie’s interest in working in the adoption field. “Helping people build their families, watching kids thrive and flourish in loving, permanent homes is just so rewarding … and addictive!” she explained.
During Konnie’s tenure in international adoption, she has witnessed and worked through changes that included the opening and closing of adoption programs in numerous countries, as well as the implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption.
A new set of regulations for intercountry adoption was implemented due to the impact of the Hague Adoption Convention, which went into effect in the United States in 2008, with LSS becoming Hague-accredited that same year. The Hague Treaty ensures that countries follow standards that are designed to protect children and provide transparency for adoptive families. This has contributed to a slowdown in international adoption, as different countries establish new structure and regulatory systems.
In 2010, following Konnie’s trip to Bulgaria, LSS initiated a partnership with New Beginning Association, a non-governmental organization (NGO) accredited by the Bulgarian government, as a primary provider of intercountry adoption services to work together to find loving homes for Bulgaria’s orphaned children. Since that time, nine adoptions from Bulgaria have been finalized, with several other families in the process of adopting waiting Bulgarian children.
Most memorable to Konnie are “the phenomenal families I have worked with. They seem to stretch beyond what they expected of themselves, with such commitment and the ability to ‘make it work.’ They just rise to the challenge, which can include huge medical and emotional issues.”
Konnie was born in Germany and immigrated to San Antonio with her mom, dad and three sisters when she was seven, coincidentally through the resettlement services of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS). During Konnie’s high school years, they moved to Houston. In 1967, she met her husband Mark Gregg at the University of Texas, and they had three children – two adopted from CPS. When one of Konnie’s sisters died in an auto accident, they also took in her teenage son. In 2012, after 45 years of marriage, Mark died from complications related to treatment of Hodgkin’s disease. Today, three of their four children live in the Austin area and she has 11 grandchildren. Konnie’s busy life included playing (and watching) a lot of soccer, and she is an avid gardener, reader and traveler who tries to never miss her grandkids’ athletic activities and gets the extended family of up to 18–20 together for family dinners every other Sunday.
Konnie Gregg is not one to talk about herself, but at Upbring we think a professional anniversary of four decades is something to celebrate! The many lives Konnie has impacted are evidenced by three bulletin boards hanging in her office, crammed with photos of happy families whose adoptions she has personally facilitated.
Upbring/LSS has facilitated thousands of adoptions over 60 years; Konnie Gregg has been an important part of many of those. Thank you Konnie, for all you have meant and continue to mean to Upbring/LSS!