Posted by Deb Shrier
Families often keep in touch with their social worker after the placement of their adopted child. It is always a pleasure to see how much the children have grown, learn of a child's interest in sports or school and a unique talent. These notes from adoptive parents often give me pause for the impact of how a healthy family life can make such a difference to a child.
Today I received a call from a former client, Suzanne*, who adopted three children with her husband and has recently moved to another state. We have remained in touch over the years. Sometimes her calls include some questions about discussing her children's adoption story and other times the calls are just to relay significant parenting experience. Her updates on the children and family life are always interesting and often entertaining.
"I was going through my son's baby book and I had to call you," she said. "I read one of my journal entries, thought about our meetings during the adoption process, and suddenly found myself back in time to the early days of motherhood."
We had a great deal to reflect on - how she and her husband were so eager to become parents, how holding each of her children for the first time was something she would never forget, and how blessed her family is to have been brought together through adoption. We laughed at the memories of the airplane flights home with each child, the sleepless nights with a new baby, and the creative ways to make sure a picky eater is getting good nutrition. Suzanne and I also talked about "The Call" that I made to her with news of each child. (The details of The Call – where the client was when the social worker calls, what was said, the feeling of shock even though the wait felt like forever – is always a part of a family's adoption story.) "You were my mid-wife," she reminded me, an expression that she frequently shared with me since the placement of her first child.
"It went so fast," Suzanne shared. "I can't believe how much I learned since the day Bob* and I first walked into your office."
Yes, Suzanne (and Bob) did learn a lot. Love. Patience. Acceptance. Compassion. She learned how to juggle the needs of three children while, at the very same time, deepening her understanding of her own sense of self as well as her marriage. She learned that despite the unique journey each child has had, together they are a family with strength in the love and experiences they share. To see her flourish as a woman, mother, and wife all these years later is a privilege and a great lesson that Suzanne has given me.
*Names changed to protect privacy.
Deb Shrier, LICSW, is director of Post-Adoption Services at Jewish Family & Children's Service. Actively involved in the field of adoption both professionally and personally over the last 20 years, Deb's clinical interests include domestic/international adoption, transracial adoption, parenting issues, and search/reunion with birth parents and adopted persons. She has also provided clinical support to adoptive families on birth country tours that include the Philippines, Romania, Guatemala, and Russia. Deb enjoys writing and has contributed to various adoption related publications as well as the JF&CS blog.