When I think of the past year and try to focus in on one particular success story, I find that difficult. Since I am relatively new in the field, I had a naive sense of what adoption truly was. Sure, I had done my internship years ago and understood the concept of grief and loss; however, I do not think one can actually conceptualize that until you have helped a family or a birth mother navigate through it. Within a month from starting, I got a call from a local hospital where a mother had given birth and wanted to see a social worker immediately to create an adoption plan. I remember driving there so worried that I would not have the right answers, do something wrong or offend her in some way. As it turns out, my careful and thoughtful approach (because I was terrified of messing up) was exactly what this birth mother needed from me at the time. It didn’t matter that I was so new. I had empathy and was willing to listen to her story, which helped us build a successful working relationship. Her child just turned one and recently had her adoption finalized with her forever family.
I have worked with a variety of birth mothers since then and they have all been so different, but I am learning that if I am sincere and supportive, it does not matter that I have not been working in this field for years and years. I can still be just the person they may need. It is stories like these that I refer back to when I have a “rough” day. Recently I have helped a couple of families move through some difficult and painful situations. As their social worker, I have to be careful not to allow myself to get “caught” up in the grief or anxiety of the moment. We often feel fairly close to our families and we sincerely want our families to have a successful adoption. However, even if there are set backs, hold ups, and unexpected challenges, it is my job to help the family see past those. We have a saying that “everything happens for a reason.” As devastating as it is for a placement to fall through. that just means that it was not the right situation for the family. In my short time here, I have worked with families who felt hopeless after a failed match, only to be matched with their son or daughter months later that they were meant to be with. I am learning every day that my role is to empathize with my families and that yes, I can feel sad too. But if I can remember that adoption can often be difficult but worthwhile once they are matched with the child that is right for them, it makes all of the challenges and losses well worth it.
I often say that I love my job! I now have an even more realistic understanding of my role as an adoption social worker that rings even more true. It is humbling to realize that the more I know about adoption, the more I can learn. I read books and go to conferences and do webinar after webinar, but it is my experiences that I learn the most from. I appreciate each day I work because whether it is good or bad, it gives me more tools that I can use to continue my work with families and birth mothers.
Adoption & Pregnancy Support Social Worker