Appreciation of Social Workers
“Wherever we live in the world, people are being harmed, abused and neglected and their civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights are being violated. Every day, social workers are helping individuals and groups of people in such situations, helping them to live a better life and to find ways to respect competing rights in complex situations” Press release: World Social Work Day 2010: Making human rights real - the Social Work Agenda
To my children and me, the social worker was our portal to a mother and child bond. Our social workers built the bridge that brought us to one another and supported us in our mission to bond and become a family. Without a doubt, my six children, all successful adults or emerging adults and I would not be a permanent family without the support, wisdom and commitment to social justice of a social worker.
The first social worker I ever met in my life was Margaret. Margaret had been a social worker since I was a child and I met her when I was 43. Like me, she was a birth mom and a single mom and soon we would share the status of foster mom. I met Margaret because she took my call for her agency and answered my questions about foster care completely and honestly. Margaret was assertive and candid when she questioned me. Margaret set up an interview appointment and was at my home within 24hrs.
My daughter Ivy was 10 and with Margaret’s encouragement was included in the interview. Margaret interviewed Ivy as if her commitment to our becoming a foster family was important and it was. Ivy proudly showed Margaret the entire house and our car. I simply followed in the event I was needed to answer any questions, which were not many because Margaret was able to learn about me through Ivy. Margaret made Ivy and I feel appreciated and inspired. I would become a foster mom upon completion of 8 hrs of classes, CPR/first aid training and a criminal background check. I also needed to purchase: a lock for our cabinet with toxic cleaning agents, a locking cabinet for all medications, and an approved fire extinguisher. Our dogs needed to be current on vaccinations and licensing also.
Soon after Margaret, we met Maria, another veteran who placed children in homes after Margaret approved them. Maria had many years of experience with troubled children and made no secret that she liked Ivy very much. Maria, frequently exposed to horrific behavior was good at laughing first and then snorting when behavior was particularly awful. I never, ever observed shock from Maria. I learned a lot about the value of humor and taking things in stride from Maria. Many things I say today were originally Maria’s. Corinne, a young social worker replaced Maria after she was promoted, Corinne was very insightful and knew that some small things out of the ordinary helped and meant a lot. Corinne found ways to have contact with her cases (my children) and help me at the same time. She would pick a child up from school on the way to our home, or visit when I needed to be at a short meeting so I would not have to take the girls to my parents and Corinne could meet with the girls on a more intimate level. The girls all thought Corinne was very cool. Gina was a very caring worker, who never missed a graduation or performance and was never late to anything. Another worker, Nikki, knew every clinic and mental health facility that existed and I learned the best places to take my children for services. Cindy came to us at the end of my foster mom career, we traded books and she listened to me because she knew that what our family needed most of all was for me to have a grown-up to talk to.
The hardest part of transitioning from foster to adoptive parent was the loss of the regular contact from social workers. Our social workers knew all of my children, my parents and often other people who came into our lives. They were the people I could completely trust to listen when I needed to share, direct when I needed direction and to help when I needed help.