You Must Love Your Work…..you make people happy by ‘giving’ them Babies’
How many time have I heard that phrase? Frankly, too many times. Yes, I do love my work but not for the reasons many think. This conversation usually takes place at social gatherings; I refer to this as ‘Cocktail Party Talk’. These well-meaning comments are meant in a positive manner, but frankly, they miss the boat.
Being an Adoption social worker definitely does include working with adoptive applicants to complete an Adoption Homestudy [essentially an assessment with an educational component] and, yes, it is wonderful and gratifying to be able to place a child with happy parents who are realizing their dream of becoming parents. So, to answer the cocktail party question, ‘Yes, it is lovely to help people become a family’. Yes, I so much appreciate and enjoy it when families stay in touch with me and let me share their happiness and joy over the years. I have been invited to First Communions, Bar a Bat Mitzvahs, graduations and even some weddings. Of course it is delightful to be included in these very special moments of a family’s life.
But, the greatest satisfaction comes from working with the birth parents (s) and birth families. When a birth parent has trusted me as someone safe with whom to talk and with whom to share innermost and frightening feelings; when I have been the substitute ‘parent’ when the birth parent’s own parents have been absent; when several birth parents have even asked me to be present at the birth; and mostly, when the birth parent (s) and possibly their parents have told me that although the decision to place the child with another family has been the hardest decision of their life but that they have felt heard and supported and recognized for their courage, that is what gives me (and likely most adoption workers) the greatest satisfaction.
Early in my Adoption practice, most adoptions were not fully identified and open with direct ongoing contact between the birth and adoptive families and children. In many of those early adoptions, letters and photos may have been shared, but usually that was the very limited extent of contact between the families. In the past twenty or even thirty years, fully identified open adoptions are far more common and its benefits recognized. For the social worker, there is a lot of work at the outset in helping all the parties overcome their fears and find a style of contact that works for them, every single family being different. When I have been able to help the families come to a place in which they are comfortable being part of each other’s large extended family [and the shape and frequency and flavour of contact varies with every single family], THAT is the real satisfaction of my work.
by: Michaele-Sue Goldblatt, MSW,RSW
Milestones & Transitions