The world of social work is a little more complex than people give it credit. Often, social workers are thrown under this umbrella of uniformity and are left picking up the pieces of the reality of which they belong. Over the years, television shows and movies have led people astray. They often portray social workers as these irritable, rude, and dismissive beings; yet in reality, they’re usually a ball of endless support and convergent thinkers.
Sometimes we forget that in this new age of media, tv, and technology, it’s hard to differentiate between what is real and what is not. Instead of seeing things for what they are, we tend to throw everyone in one category; the social work field is more complex than that.
March is National Social work Month. What better way to kick off this month of dedication than by clearing the air of the things people believe to be accurate but aren’t. Here are eight of the biggest misconceptions that people have about adoption social workers:
1. Adoption social workers’ goal is to place the child.
Many assume that adoption social workers have one goal and one goal only: to place every child they can. That is not the case. Not every social worker is going to cohort you into creating an adoption plan just because they can. Aside from generally wanting what’s best for expecting and birth parents, there are no other incentives.
An adoption social worker is solely there for support and assistance for the biological mom and dad in their quest to figure out what route is best for them, whether that be placing or parenting. Surely in open adoption, social workers tend to be a little more open-minded and understand that there are different routes taken to family building and family planning. This is why they explore all options with you.
2. Adoption social workers’ role isn’t as important.
When people are looking into adoption and adoptive parents, they sometimes undervalue the experience and all it takes to get from step A to step Z. When you think of everyone involved in the adoption process: agencies, lawyers, judges and, social workers, the social workers tend to fall last on the list of importance and priority.
The fact of the matter is, adoption social workers are the sole person(s) there with you from beginning to end. They will become your confidant, your counselor, your friend, your support, and your guide. Just because they don’t sign the dotted line next to yours, it doesn’t negate the fact that they will have been your biggest cheerleader in deciding what best suits both you and baby from day one.
3. Social workers are persons of convenience.
This one may be one of the biggest misconceptions concerning adoption social work. Yes, your social worker is there for you, and yes, an on-call social worker is there to assist you whenever you need it. However, it is unfair to abuse this prerogative since social workers, too, have family, friends, and loved ones who also demand their time and attention.
The process of placing and adopting can be very emotional and mentally fatiguing. It’s normal for one to have thousands of questions, or even need a listening ear of advice from someone who will understand. But it’s unfair to assume each time you reach out, a social worker should be ready and willing to jump.
4. Social workers work 9-5.
We also have to take into account that the adoption social worker is often working on-call and on placements. Unlike us, social workers don’t receive weekend breaks and holidays where they don’t have to think about work. This is all the more reason why staying mindful is so important.
5. A social worker is another term for counselor/therapist.
Although someone who works in adoption social work takes on multiple roles, the misconception is that these professionals are solely there to counsel, listen, and give advice. In reality, this is a small part of what adoption social workers do daily. It’s not that they sit across from the client, counsel them, and then they leave. They have to correlate relationships to ensure clients have a fluid experience. The placement process is an ongoing journey with lots of moving pieces. No one’s journey is the same. Social workers must navigate the mechanisms of each unique process.
6. Many adoptive professionals aren’t connected to adoption.
Believe it or not, people working in the adoption field may be able to relate and understand more than you think. Some think of social work, and instantly shy away—maybe scared of being judged or, like mentioned previously, act on stigmas.
Most people fail to know that the adoption field consists of lots of people who are a part of the adoption community. At Adoptions From The Heart, the agency is filled with adoptive parents and adoptees who work as adoption social workers, coordinators, and in other areas of the agency. In each step of the process, you’re probably connecting with someone who understands what you are going through.
7. Adoption social workers inspect a home with a white glove.
When it comes to adoption home studies, we get this misconception all the time. People assume that the house must be spotless, when in reality, a social worker is not looking for perfect organization; he or she looks at whether the home meets safety standards and if it is a family that is willing to educate themselves on the value of “openness” in adoption. A home study is a chance for the agency to get a feel for your life at home and, potentially, what life would be like for a baby/child if you were to be matched.
8. Mistaken for state and county child protective services.
Adoption social workers are just that: adoption social workers. There are different fields of social work that should be taken into consideration. Adoption social workers provide support, options counseling, education, referrals to resources, and voluntary adoption placement (if that is what expectant and birth parents choose).
Adoption social workers are not these irritable, rude, and dismissive people. They are here to help you every step of the way in your adoption process. Whether you are an expecting parent or a prospective adoptive parent, an adoption social worker can mold him or herself to meet your needs and make your experience the best possible one for you.