Friday will mark my last day at Adoption Advocates. Before I started working here, I thought I had a fairly good understanding of the adoption field. Erin Smith, our Director of Adoption Services, and I have been friends for years, and I had assumed that by hearing Erin’s anecdotes as an adoption caseworker I had a better awareness of adoption, and open adoption especially, than most people. Which may be true, but only because most people are surprisingly – and sometimes, amusingly – ignorant about adoption. But I had no idea how complex adoption is, or the influence it can have on birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees.
Ever since I started working at AAI, whenever someone would ask me what I did for a living, and I would say that I work at an adoption agency, the response was always the same: ‘”Wow! How rewarding that must be!” My answer was always some variation of: (long pause) “… It can be.” It’s difficult to explain — to people who don’t know any better — how adoption can be a zero sum game. The wonderful additions to a family often comes at the expense of profound grief and loss, which is an aspect I had naively never considered before coming to work at an adoption agency.
As the Administrative Coordinator, I get to know both the expectant parents and the adoptive parents. In my 2+ years of working at AAI, I have witnessed countless relinquishments, and been lucky enough to sit in during the signing of a few placements. I can’t imagine that I will ever have another job where I will be present for what may be simultaneously the worst day and the best day in people’s lives. The worst day for the expectant parents, whose selfless love for their children enables them to make the sacrifice, and the best day for the adoptive parents, many becoming first-time parents and fulfilling a lifelong dream. By working at the agency I have seen first-hand the importance of pre-placement training for adoptive parents, and open adoption for birth parents and adoptees. Bearing witness to those experiences has made me a more compassionate person and I’m grateful for the time I worked here.
I’m looking forward to starting a new chapter, but I will miss working at AAI and the unique experiences I have had since working here. My biggest regret is that I won’t be able to see the waiting families whom I have come to know through to the end of their adoption journey, when they get to bring home their babies. I will also miss working in a small office of smart, empathetic, capable, funny women. They have all inspired me in different ways, but most especially with their integrity and commitment to doing right by all of our clients. Not bad for a job where I expected to just answer the phone and shuffle paper.