Sometimes you have a case that for whatever reason you will never forget. Sometimes it is because the adoptive family was so amazing in the way they loved the birth mother. Sometimes it is because of the choices a birth mother makes or things she does to ensure the best possible outcome and placement for her child. Sometimes it is because of silly things- like the first (though not only) baby that peed on you when you changed a diaper or the baby that you took with you to your high school aged son’s banquet where he freaked because you had a baby with you, only to explain that it was because the adoptive family’s flight was delayed a few hours and you had to go back to work later to complete the placement with them. Sometimes it is because of the baby’s name- whether from a movie, something you considered for your own child, or something so very original you just wonder why and never forget it (yes read odd here because it happens!) Sometimes you are lucky enough to have multiple cases that make an impact and that you never forget…and sometimes you have a family that contacts you year after year to say thank you for being a part of their journey. That is where this story is from….
When I started with Heart of Adoptions in 2013, I had primarily worked with birth/expectant mothers at a previous place of employment. In the many, many years of my career in social work I had also worked with many other populations- i.e. foster care, developmentally disabled adults, and children with behavior disorders to name a few- but I had not primarily worked with adoptive families. Yet- I was hired to do just that- and while I am still here 6+ years later I do not think I had a clue what I was initially getting myself into. And sometimes- I wonder if they knew at the time they hired me, what they were getting themselves into. 😊
Immediately after I started, I began to acquaint myself with the families on our waiting list. One particular adoptive family and I connected in a weird way in my first weeks here. The prospective adoptive mother randomly asked me during an introductory call what my favorite candy was, and I responded, “jelly beans” She asked a few questions about this, such as did I like gourmet jelly beans or the regular ones you get at Easter. I laughed and told her my preference was the popcorn ones (I know I just lost half the readers here but try to stay with me- I promise this will be worth it!!) A few days later this petite blonde woman showed up in front of my desk, with a bag full of gourmet jelly beans and she told me these would be the best I ever had- little did I know but she was right! As I was laughing, and we joked about a few things I was quick to tell her I couldn’t be bought or bribed with jelly beans to which I am pretty sure she laughed and said, “We’ll see about that!” We talked that day, I mean really talked- she told me about her infertility, her step children, she talked about how much she loved her husband and the journey they had been on to get to this point. I learned things I could read about in the home study but would never truly understand without having this deep conversation. I grew to understand who she was not just as a prospective adoptive mom that was a client but truly as a person. You see, sometimes, when you have been in social work a longtime you get jaded- it isn’t intentional, and it certainly isn’t something you are ever proud of, but burnout is real, and it can happen and being jaded is one of the first steps. Having this conversation with her, at this time, made me realize that I didn’t have time to be jaded in this realm- I had to jump in, both feet, blindly, and understand these families I was working with and figure out what I could do to help them through this process.
Moving forward, I would get a call randomly here and there from this woman asking the age-old question of “When is it going to happen?” and while I don’t have a Magic 8 Ball and I certainly can’t see the future- I tried to help be realistic that it would happen- but we all had to have faith in the process as I truly believe that when it is time- your child will find their way to your heart and home.
Fast forward- to when I got a call from another local attorney asking for a specific type of family that I knew I had a family to match…you guessed it, it was my jelly bean wielding adoptive mom and her husband! I called and chatted with them about this case and little did we know that the birth mother would look at their profile and a few days later they would find out that they were selected to be parents to a beautiful baby girl!
So far- this doesn’t sound much different than many of the families I have worked with but here is where things change. You see, the first few years, on their daughter’s birthday I got a text, or sometimes an email showing me how big she had gotten and thanking me for being a part of their adoption journey. And. I. Loved. This. But then this stopped- because life gets busy and that’s ok. You see I know things were good for them, and I also believe that people come into your life to teach you a lesson and I was figuring out what this lesson was….
I got a call earlier this week and on my caller ID I saw her name- yes, the jelly bean wielding adoptive mom and it instantly made me smile! She began the call saying “I don’t know if you’ll remember me…” to which I replied, “Of course I do! I recognized your name and instantly thought of jelly beans!!” We both got a chuckle and then discussed how the family was doing. They had faced some medical issues in the last year, but all were well now. She went on to say how she drives by our office and thinks of us often and on this day, she just felt the need to reach out and say hi and thank me again for having such an impact on their lives at such a critical time. She acknowledged how sassy her daughter is- who is now 6 years old! (how did that happen??) Together we talked about things we are thankful for, trying to remember to see the good in things, and trying to stay positive even when it feels like you can’t. We hung up with a promise from her to send a few updated photos of them all- and they didn’t disappoint as I got pictures emailed later that night and man is their daughter a cutie and I am so jealous of her adorable dimples! I wish I could share them but that’s not going to happen as I need my job! – and you all need me to keep doing it- haha!!
This all got me thinking though, adoption is tough, life is tough, things get busy, but sometimes, the simplest thing like a call to say hi or thanks for being there when, or even jelly beans can sometimes be enough. Take the time, this holiday season to be present, say thank you, reach out, and remember that sometimes that is all someone may need to make it through their day.
Thank you friend. I hope you’ll see this- I know you will know it is about you as soon as you do! And I want you to know, you are one of those sometimes cases- that made an impact on me, that I will never forget, and it is not just because of the jelly beans, but because you allowed me to learn from you, just when I needed to.