Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2014 by Team Northwoods

Mary’s Adoption Story: I Could Always Count on My Social Worker

This is a guest post from Mary, adoptive parent of two children. To protect the privacy of her family, Mary asked us to use only her first name and change the names of others mentioned. We are honored to share Mary’s story as a thank you to social workers for your dedication to the families you serve.

I am raising two adopted children, each of whom went through patches of serious personal turmoil lasting about five years. During that time, I utilized the services of our local family services agency to help us get through the cavalcade of emotional and behavioral issues that consumed our days and nights. As the parent overseeing most of these efforts, I came to rely heavily on the social workers we saw regularly. They came to feel like family. 

Many of the home visits paid to us were around dinner time – after work and school, and in the middle of meltdowns related to homework, hunger, and frustrations endured throughout the day. During their visits, members of my “agency family” never commented on my cluttered and busy household. They didn’t seem too concerned about the baskets of unfolded laundry on the couch, some of which seem to have been there since their last visit. They didn’t care that I didn’t get to the dishes before their visit, or that our overly needy dog wouldn’t stop licking them. They didn’t have to tell me that they weren’t there to judge me or my housekeeping skills. Their actions showed clearly that they were there for one reason and one reason only: to help my children and me.

I remember one particularly rough time with my daughter. She was ten and refused to go to school. This had been an ongoing battle for years, but by this point, she was as big as I was, so I could no longer pick her up and force her into the car. She was also very physical and didn’t hesitate to clobber whomever it was making her life difficult – which was me at that moment.

It was 7:45am, and I called the only person who knew my daughter’s history as well as I did: our social worker, “Natalie.”

Natalie promptly called me back at 8am when she got my message. We talked through the options and she convinced me to call the police to report my daughter’s truancy. Having exhausted all other options, she hoped that an authority figure to demonstrate the seriousness of the situation – who also happened to carry a badge – might help change my daughter’s mind about going to school. I stood there and cried for a good five minutes, not wanting to believe that I had to call law enforcement to get a 10-year old to school. But I made the call, and it worked. My daughter didn’t the pull the stunt again, although we would experience other challenges. It was reassuring to know our social worker was always there to help us through them.

The next morning, Natalie showed up on my doorstep. She wanted to make sure that I wasn’t having problems getting my daughter to school again. I told her that I was happy to report that the morning went off without a hitch, and I gave Natalie a hug and thanked her for stopping by.

Gestures like this from social workers like Natalie are what got me through some of the lowest times in my early parenting life. It seemed like whenever I was at my wit’s end with the children God had blessed me with, I could count on our social worker for the support my children and I needed, when we needed it most.

The other day, I overheard someone commenting on the importance and difficulty of a surgeon’s job. All I could think was, “You must not know any social workers.”