Before I became a mother, I was a social worker. I was, in fact, one of the most stereotypical scary social workers – a caseworker for child protective services. In my experiences in two major Ohio cities, I got to work with some pretty amazing families, and even more incredible kids – kids who were living, breathing testimony to the resilience of human beings.
Some of my families were simply in stressful situations, and needed some extra support to regain safety and stability in their homes. Some of my parents needed accountability and the resources to address numerous addictions in their lives.
Most of the kids I worked with were able to stay in their homes, or with relatives, or were successfully reunified with a parent after some time in foster care. Some, though, were left without a capable parent to return to, or had been abandoned or so severely abused that no court would consider reunifying them with their family of origin. For one reason or another, these kids were left looking for a permanent home. These are the kids who come to my mind when I am reminded that November is national adoption month.
I don’t know if our family will ever adopt. I do know that if we decide to have more children, it will be through fostering or adoption. I also know that I feel passionately about the importance of children having a family to call their own. I don’t believe that every family should adopt, but I also wish that it wasn’t so often viewed as a “last resort” option for having children.
There are so many types of adoption, and I think that they are all equally valid. But I have to admit that my heart probably lies most closely with the 115,000 children who are currently in foster care waiting for a family. My heart is with them because they are the kids I know, the survivors who do not trust easily, who will push your boundaries until they are assured that you are around for the long haul, the ones who need a safe place to heal, and a parent who can say “Yes, you belong with us now.”