March is Social Work Month, so what better time to express our thanks to all the hardworking social workers who help make adoption a possible option for parents in need?
This month, those of us who work at Abrazo can’t help but think of all the extraordinary social workers we’re blest to know and work with, year in and year out. We’ve known far too many to mention them all by name, of course. (And it’s important to note that not everyone who works in social services is actually a social worker.) But we’d like to tell you about some of the remarkable social work professionals who have truly made a difference to our adoption community, and why.
Homestudy social workers
Social workers who do great homestudies are truly artisans, because they’re confidantes, teachers, investigators, guides and gurus, with the best of communication skills and the most important responsibilities. Homestudy social workers assess people who hope to adopt and also aide those who rely on them to accurately evaluate those people in order to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable of children. They also typically provide out-of-state post-placement supervision on behalf of placing agencies, and help families trouble-shoot if post-adoption issues arise. Over the years, Abrazo has worked with some of the very finest homestudy social workers, professionals like Brad in Fort Worth and Ellen in Memphis and Mara in San Antonio and Saara in Bethesda and Connie in St. Petersburg, among others. One whom we’ll never forget was the late Penny Glatstein, who worked for a Memphis faith-based agency. Penny was so skilled at her craft, she could read people well and write amazing homestudies that went in-depth to help truly assess prospective parents’ capacity to become great parents, whatever their histories may have been. Penny died of cancer in 2009, but she was instrumental in helping over 600 Tennessee couples become parents, and her impact in their lives lives on, as does that of so many other social workers we honor during this Social Work Month.
Agency social workers
Agency social workers typically forfeit more lucrative public sector positions to work in private agency settings because they want to get fully invested in the lives of their clients– at least for awhile, even if it costs them. One living legend in the ranks of agency social workers is Abrazo board member and former Family Services Coordinator Angela Martinez, LMSW. Angela led our adoptive families’ program from 2002 to 2010, and this Longhorn-loving Dallas Cowboys football fan was truly a force to be reckoned with, despite her relative youth. Angela’s sister had struggled with infertility, as she told prospective families at orientation, so she had a special place in her heart for those who longed to become parents through adoption. Angela also loved babies, and cared for birthparents, and always went the extra mile to help train coworkers because she was passionate about doing things right. She left our agency to head the March of Dimes’ NICU outreach in a busy Houston hospital, but she’s continued to serve on Abrazo’s board and to provide homestudy and post-placement services for our Houston-area families, and we are forever grateful for her place in the Abrazo community, along with the other MSWs we’ve been fortunate to employ.
CPS social workers
To be honest, we think of social workers who sign up for careers with Child Protective Services as the professionals in the trenches, and too often, they are the least likely to command the respect they surely deserve in American culture. CPS social workers, while too often maligned in the court of public opinion, are truly on the frontlines of the battle for child welfare in this country, and too often, they find themselves at the greatest of risk, as a result. We’ve known some amazing social workers who toil for CPS because they are genuinely committed to the cause of children-in-need, and while burnout is an occupational hazard, they tend to be some of the most skilled clinicians of all. During Social Work Month and all year through, our collective hat is off to these hardworking social workers, like Mel and Katrina and Cecilia and Saul and Carrie and Clint and Jennifer and Peter and Raquel and Ramon and Monica and Preston and others, who are undoubtedly unsung heroes of the profession, in our book.
Hospital social workers
A certain number of Abrazo adoptees only got to have the loving adoption stories they do thanks to the empathy and diligence of hospital social workers around the state who told patients-in-need about our agency and the benefits of open adoption options. Ethical hospital social workers like Portia and Ana Alicia and Shari and Leilani and Rick and Montreece and Karen and Emily and Cory and Michelle and Stephanie and Cynthia and Marta and Rebecca and Diana and countless others statewide have cared for maternity patients considering adoption plans with compassion and dignity, taking the time to make sure they were fully counseled as to all their options before taking on the biggest and most sacrificial decisions of any mother’s lifetime. They’ve offered careful counsel to anxious (and sometimes over-eager potential adoptive parents), have supported patients suffering the grief of child loss, have spared infants the lifelong loss of being abandoned in safe haven drops, have aided adoptive families of babies in NICU, and valiantly intervened on occasion when they see needs not being properly met. Social workers in hospitals are too often expected to “fix things” even without the proper tools, and everyone in the hospital (and beyond) tends to lean on them in times of trouble. Typically, theirs is a largely thankless task, and yet, how very essential they are to all members of the adoption triad in that very first pages of everyone’s placement story.
This March (and throughout the year to come), join us in remembering the important role that all social workers play in the adoption process… truly, we couldn’t do what we do without them.