Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Adventures Of An Adoption Social Work Intern

My name is Paige and I had the privilege of spending my last semester of college as a social work intern with Family Life Services.  As a Longwood University social work student I was required to complete two internships.  I completed my 180-hour junior year internship with a local Department of Social Services.  I learned a lot at DSS, but since the day I decided to be a social worker I knew I wanted to work in the field of adoption.  Since I wanted to come home to do my internship, my advisor told me about Family Life Services.  She knew about my values and felt that this agency was a perfect match for me and she was right! I went for an interview with J.J. in December and started my internship in January. 

If you don’t already know, Family Life Services is such an amazing adoption agency.  I learned immediately how much they value and care for each and every birth parent and adoptive family.  During my time at FLS, I was able to meet birth parents, prospective adoptive couples, families who went through the domestic adoption process, families who went through the international adoption process, and I also worked with the staff and residents at the Liberty Godparent Home.  Needless to say, I was exposed to every element of adoption and I absolutely loved it!  

Right away Deanne started letting me work more independently than I had even anticipated.  After shadowing her and Rachel on a few post placement visits, I was able to start doing these visits on my own.  FLS works with the sweetest, most caring, Christian families and seeing the pure joy on their faces during these visits touched my heart.  My favorite experience was seeing an adoption placement.  Seeing a couple that had waited so long to be parents, holding their new baby was just amazing.  I wish I could experience placement day every day!  I learned quickly though, that with adoption, there’s also a sense of sadness.  I shadowed Rachel during birth mother counseling and went with her to the hospital several times to see birth mothers after they gave birth.  Amongst the happiness of adoption, I think it’s quick for many of us to forget that while others are celebrating, the birth family is grieving.  This experience was the most challenging part of my internship.  

I had to go back to Longwood three times during this semester for Senior Seminar (even though I would have much rather been at FLS).  This is where all the senior social work students get back together and discuss how their internships are going, give presentations, and turn in papers.  As we went around the room to share, many of my peers had complaints about their internships, but when it was my time to share I gladly talked about my experiences and was happy to state that I had no complaints; I love my internship!  I was always the student in my social work classes to write research papers on adoption and did many presentations about adoption and teen pregnancy.  I can’t tell you how many papers I wrote or how many presentations I did on adoption, but I learned more this semester, at Family Life Services, than I ever did my three and a half years in classes (just don’t tell my professors!).

I will forever be grateful for the few months I spent getting to know and working with Deanne, Rachel, Rose, and J.J. and the birth mothers and adoptive families I had the pleasure of meeting and working with.  I will continue to pray for each and every one of you and will miss you all!

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