I’ve had many social workers in my 25+ years as a foster/adoptive parent. I’ve also been an adoption social worker for more than 10 years. The one thing I can say, viewing adoption on both sides of the issue, is this: your social worker is on your side! Think about it. What would be gained if the social worker or her agency failed you as an adoptive family? They want you to succeed. Here is why your social worker is on your side.
1. Your social worker wants to prepare you
The home study process can be excruciating. A good social worker will prepare you by walking you through the mountains of paperwork and the cumbersome rules and regulations. She will help you prepare your home for inspection. She will tell you what to expect with criminal background checks. In other words, you will not have to guess what your next step is in the home study process. Your social worker will outline that for you. A prepared home makes for a good adoptive home.
2. Your social worker wants to advocate for you
Let’s face it, everyone in the foster care system has someone to advocate for them: the biological parents, the child, and even CPS all have an attorney to represent them. But not the foster or adoptive parents. Though social workers cannot give legal advice, they can support you, train you, correct you, and guide you in your foster or adoptive experience. In other words, they advocate for you. This comes in handy when there is a bump in the road like a difficult child or difficult biological parents or when you need someone to cut through the red tape and actually get things done. A good social worker will match you with the right child whose needs you can meet. You need someone on your side. That’s what a social worker is for. Let’s face it, a good foster or adoptive family makes the social worker look good; a good family makes the social worker’s job easier. But a good social worker takes away the anxiety the family may have and makes the foster/adoption process much smoother.
3. Your social worker loves kids!
I’ve never met a social worker that doesn’t like kids. I love kids. I adopted six, had two biologically, and am currently a licensed foster parent. My degree focused on education because I expected to be a teacher or a youth pastor. But I became a social worker because I had a passion for helping families who wanted to help children. Most other social workers feel the same way. Social workers want to help kids, protect kids, guide them, and lead them to a brighter future. For all intents and purposes, the child is the social worker’s client. The social worker’s job is to meet the needs of the family so the family can meet the needs of the child. When a child’s needs are being met, the world is a better place. That’s what social workers want.
Yes, occasionally, you will run across a social worker who has been in the business too long and who has who is jaded from all the abuse and neglect he or she witnessed. But those are few and far between. You have every right to request a different worker if that occurs or even shop around for a different adoption agency, if possible. But for the most part, social workers want to make a difference in the world. They can best do that by being on your side and assisting you on your foster or adoptive journey.