Yesterday I attended team meetings for children in residential treatment who I met for the first time. Today I will meet the family who is planning to adopt them. During the half hour with one of the kids I thought at the end... wow, if I could have only had a video of that 30 minutes. I could really have taught a seminar that lasted 6 hours based on the various things that happened in that conversation alone.
I realized at the end of my afternoon that I have become what people would call a "seasoned professional" which is scary on several levels. First of all, it means i'm dang old, which isn't news to you but catches me off-guard sometimes. You can't be one unless you've been around a while, so that must mean that I am old.... It was also a troubling realization because I have become more and more aware of the fact that in order to become the person that I currently am, I had to go through a lot of hard things.
But as I sat in the room I realized that I had a unique perspective -- much different from those that were held by the people around the table. Not only was I a parent of a child with mental health issues, but I was also a social worker. Not only had I parented children very much like the ones I was visiting, but I had visited them in residential treatment and navigated that maze.
I was the family's advocate and adoption worker. That was my role. But I was also a person who could because of the many things we've been through as a family, offer insights and suggestions about all different pieces of the process.
I realize that there is a risk -- I may be biased or side too much on the side of the wrong person, in someone else's opinion. But I had many thoughts and emotions as I sat there yesterday, some of them almost like flashbacks, that caused me to see things differently. I can't help but think that in the long run it is going to be helpful.
I never set out to be a seasoned professional. It wasn't my goal or plan. But I guess I'm here now. And whether it's where I planned to be or not, I am seeing ways that it may actually be helpful to a person or two...