Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Reponse to a Troubling Email

Yesterday as I was in my hotel, having traveled for several hours, after most people are relaxing and enjoying their hotel room, I was pounding out emails about waiting kids. When I told a family that was not registered with our agency that I could not pass on contact info for a 2 year old I received a troubling email.

This is a shame because it should be about getting children homes and not about control.


I emailed back asking if she would like me to explain the whole thing, to which I received the response that she had already adopted many times and didn't need anyone to explain how the whole thing worked.

I wrote back and apologized if she felt I was insulting her and asked her forgiveness. But I wanted to explain it all to her so that she would know that it is not all about control for me. But since she apparently isn't interested, I think I'll explain it to you to get it off my chest. Grant it, you might not be interested either, but you can easily stop reading.

During the month of February I have posted 60 situations about children to our network that I have received from social workers. It takes me about 15 minutes to post a situation, and if it received a lot of response, about an hour to do all the follow up on each one. While I currently do get paid, I spent years doing the same thing as a volunteer. If you know me very well at all you know that I am passionate about finding homes for kids.

So, why won't I pass on contact info of social workers to families? Let me explain.

Back in 2003 I started speaking to social workers and I met some very great people who are incredibly overworked. With caseloads of anywhere from 25-50 kids each, they are swamped. Not only do they have to find families for these kids, but they also serve as their social worker -- making monthly visits, coordinating staffings at RTCs, at times attending IEP meetings, doctors appointments, etc. I think you're getting the picture.

At that point I understood why workers weren't able to answer everyone's phone call. Most of the workers have several very difficult cases of teenagers, but once and a while they will get an "easy" kid -- a child under 5. If that is the case, all of the sudden they have hundreds of families interested. People are calling and competing and studies are coming in in droves. They are overwhlemed.

So yes, it is about control. It is about controlling the time of social workers for their "easy" cases, so that they have time to focus on the harder cases -- the ones closer to 18 who may age out.

I could go on about this forever, but at the risk of making more people angry, let me simply say this.

I understand if you would like to have a child under 5. Most people who are looking to adopt would. But there just aren't that many out there. So the huge competition for these kids is huge and sometimes can be quite unfriendly.

The kids under five will get homes. They will most likely find homes for them in their own state or possibly even in their own county. And while I'm not going to refuse to help a worker asking for help for a child that young, they aren't going to be my focus.

SO I guess the bottom line is that maybe it is a bit about control -- but the control is not about this being a lucrative business (another accusation in the 2nd email) because AAN is a non profit and charges no fees. It's about controlling the privacy and time of overworked social workers so that they have time for the older children who have been waiting for years.

I wrote a free ebook about the whole matching process that you can download here if you are interested....

So my response to the troubling email regarding philosophy is above. It helps my emotional response which I always have when I get criticized when I'm working so hard. But I'm not asking for sympathy or anything -- just understanding. And I usually get that from y'all :-)

7 comments:

QueenB said...

Thank you for your tireless effort on behalf of the children in need! We have personally sent along many of your email referrals to our AAN worker, requesting she follow up on our behalf. We also pray for all the children who come through our list, knowing that we would not be a good match for many of them. Sounds like you handled that situation very well on your part. Nancy

robyncalgary said...

tried to go to the link for the matching ebook but it said "page not found"

Other Mother said...

Please check the link for the "matching process" book. It is 404 not found. :-(

DynamicDuo said...

You did right by giving the full/whole answer. Adopting an infant or younger child is indeed what most of us without bio-kids think we want. There are no guarantees in life bio or adopted, we have met many families that adopted straight from the hospital - and still they have many of the same issues/disorders that we are living with. Honesty is always the best policy, it hurts sometimes but in the long run everyone is better off.

Claudia said...

Sorry about that. Link fixed. Now works. Check it out. ;-)

Lynne said...

A friend of mine says that adopting a younger child doesn't mean they are easier either. It just means you have them longer. :-) To the lady looking for the two year old, you might want to rethink that too. Just sayin'...

ekang said...

I was an adoption social worker who mostly had difficult teenagers. Once I had a 6-year-old legally free kid in my caseload. My phone was ringing nonstop!!! I had e-mails flooding my account. I spent hours and hours on answering phone calls and responding to e-mails while the rest of my difficult caseload was neglected. I finally had to prioritize. It was a difficult lesson. Thanks for all that you do for children AND social workers.