Adoption, adoptive parents, considering adoption, Expecting Parents Considering Adoption, Parenting

Conversation with a Adoptive Mother and Social Worker

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking to a social worker here at Adoptions from the Heart, who also happens to be an adoptive mother. I was able to ask a few questions about her experiences as both a social worker and an adoptive mother and how the two have shaped each other. Follow along below for the questions and answers!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Why did you go into social work?

I went into social work in college because I thought that the field would fit my personality and interests. I am a naturally social person and enjoy connecting with others and learning about people’s stories. I also love meeting needs and helping others connect to resources and support systems. When I was in college, I focused on geriatric social work because I was scared to work with children. I thought it would be less scary to be in charge of the quality of life of aging individuals than to be a part of early childhood experiences that could have a lifelong impact. It is ironic to me that my path so quickly changed. 

What led you to choose adoption?

My husband and I decided to adopt to start our family as young newlyweds. We believed adoption was a beautiful way to become parents, and it was something that we knew we wanted to prioritize when family planning. We did not try to have biological children before adopting. We adopted our first child from Ethiopia and started the process in 2010. Our son came home in May 2012 at almost seven months old. Our adoption process involved a placing agency in Oregon, and we had two home studies when we lived in North Carolina and Alabama. We worked with several different social workers, and I learned firsthand the effects of an attentive, empathetic social worker during the emotional and long adoption process. I also became frustrated with social workers who were slow and seemed to only care about a checklist of questions instead of actually connecting with us. 

How has being a social worker influenced your decision to become an adoptive mother or vice versa?

Before becoming a parent, I worked in geriatric social work. After becoming a parent, I returned to graduate school and pursued a Master’s in Social Work with the intent to work in adoptions. I started in foster care and loved equipping families with the unique challenges of parenting children from challenging backgrounds. When my family moved to New York, it was not long until I found Adoptions from the Heart. I loved their vision for equipping families and partnering with birth families. It’s been an incredible opportunity to work with AFTH over the years. I love learning from the other social workers and my clients.

Do you think your experience in social work has made you a better mother?

I am a mother to three children, with my oldest being adopted. My kids are 10, 8, and 5. I have found that having a background in social work and connected, intentional parenting has been beneficial to me as a mother. I love to read and learn about effective tools to connect with my kids and guide them into people who are kind and respectful of others. Having access to continued education and being a lifelong learner has shaped me as a parent. 

What was the hardest part of the adoption process for you?

The hardest part of the adoption process was waiting to be matched with a child and feeling a lot of grief over my child’s birth family. I knew that my joy at becoming a parent was at the expense of another family’s greatest loss. I wanted the phone call to be matched not just for becoming a mom but also for how my child’s family was and to know that my child was safe and cared for; this is a tension that I hope I never forget. Due to my son’s international adoption, we have a semi-closed adoption with infrequent and expensive updates to his birth family. I am always in awe of the many circumstances that had to happen in a specific way so that my son could be in my home. 

What is advice could you give to prospective adoptive mothers?

For any prospective adoptive parents, I would say to do the work now of educating yourself as much about the process as you can. Commit to being a lifelong learner who will educate yourself about the complex needs of our adopted kids. It’s okay to parent in a different way from what you experienced because your adopted children have different needs than you might have had. Process your own emotions with a counselor or trusted friend so that you can recognize your feelings. Helping our kids process their losses and identity issues may stir up our traumas, and it is healthy to do our work as parents to find our own healthy coping skills and support systems. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup – you need to understand how to fill your tank so that you can fill your children’s. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I hope you learned something from this interview and better understand the perspective of both an adoptive mother and a social worker. For additional resources on this topic, click the links below:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s