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AAI asks staff to write a blog post on their first anniversary with the agency, reflecting on what they’ve learned in the last year. This is Financial Coordinator Lindsey Hart’s post.

I began work as the Financial Coordinator at Adoption Advocates, Inc. (AAI) one year ago. Actually a little over a year, but I procrastinated writing this blog because writing is not a strong suit of mine.

When I began at AAI, I knew nothing about adoption. I knew nothing about the licensing restrictions on what financial assistance we can or cannot provide for birth mothers. I knew nothing about the hours I would spend on the phone with the Social Security Office or with Medicaid. I had no idea I would be searching around on Facebook newsfeeds to find any information about a birth father that may help us track him down so a baby doesn’t have to stay in foster care any longer.

But more than all of that, I didn’t realize the counseling that was involved. I don’t know if every agency operates this way, but it is very important to AAI that people deal with their emotions. Our counselors want mothers to realize how hard it will be well before giving birth. They want birth parents to hold their babies after birth and parent if that is what’s right for them. AAI works exclusively with birth parents who are voluntarily placing their child – so they are making a decision and the last thing our agency wants is for them to not be informed and make a choice that’s wrong for them.

Television told me birth parents are all 16 and addicts who lie or steal from the children they placed. This is not what I have seen. Most of our birth parents are my age – late 20s or early 30s. I find that we have friends in common and have similar interests. These are people I would hang out with, but instead I am trying to be professional and invisible as I witness them signing the rights to their children away. I see what they spend their grocery money on each week. They check when they think I have given them too much. Some won’t even accept financial assistance because it doesn’t feel right to them.

I have found birth parents to be more considerate, more relatable, more dynamic and way more mature. Imagine wanting to hold your baby and teach them and watch them every day, but realizing that your want is less important than your child’s need. Imagine admitting that you raising your own child may not be what is best for them. Who else would be able to make a decision like this?

This first year at AAI I have learned so much about the adoption process. The financial, the legal and also the emotional. Adoption was not something that had ever been a part of my life before, so I never knew how demanding it can be for all involved. I know I still have a lot to learn and I will never be an expert. I just hope to maybe make the process a little easier for any who find themselves here.