Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Today is the First Day of the Rest of your Life.

Today was my first day at my field placement. I am interning at a private, non-profit child welfare agency that handles adoptions for the Florida Department of Children and Families. My field supervisor, whom I will refer to as Supervisor handles private and international adoptions. She does the entire gamut:

  • helps "birth" mothers explore their options

  • finds "adoptive" parents for safe haven babies (mothers can leave their newborns at a police station, fire station, etc. without criminal charges)

  • matches adoptive parents with children

  • does home studies to ensure homes and families are safe/fit for taking care of a child,

  • attends all court hearings for termination of parental rights, finalization of adoption, etc.

  • takes care of all the paper work, progress notes, tracking and and managing the entire case, which is SERIOUS! I looked through a case file today. It was a 3 inch binder! Some of them require 2 binders!

  • There is much more to her job, but she didn't want to scare me much. :)

So, I was able to sit in on an intake meeting that Supervisor had with an "identified" adoption, which means the adoptive parents were identified by the birth parents. This is not as common as the typical way, where a couple comes in and asks to be matched with an available child. Supervisor gave the adoptive mother a bunch of paperwork to take home and return, and explained some things to her - including the fees. Yikes! There are many details about this case, and some red flags, that Supervisor and I discussed after the client left. Since I was able to see this case off right from the beginning, Supervisor wants me to be involved in the entire process - court, home study, etc. :D It's a good thing too, since I need to do a case presentation, and an assessment paper for my classes.

Supervisor and I had many discussions throughout the day, about her day-to-day, some of her current cases, some of her past cases, the terrible experience she had with her last intern! eeep! I am going to be an ANGEL compared to that one! She is also flexible with my time. Since I live 30 minutes away, there is plenty of things I can read at home (lots of reading in the beginning), as well as certain projects. I will be putting together a mega packet of info for adoptive parents and birth parents. It will include all kinds of articles - is adoption for you? exploring your options, when/how should you tell your child they are adopted, all kinds of medical information, etc. This is research I can do from home, so she is fine with this.

I must keep track of everything I do with progress notes. I need to keep my administrative duties (packets, research, etc) apart from client progress notes. However, the admin notes will prove to her the time I spent on each activity (reading, research, etc), along with the questions I will ask her. I will always have questions, of course, because that is the biggest proof that you read the materials! The last intern read the Florida Statues on Adoption in 2 hours with NO questions. NOT!

In the afternoon, I did a lot of reading, mainly of ONE case file. Massive, very detailed, very invlved. The entire life story of both adoptive and birth parents. Every single legal, financial, health, family, social, historical, criminal, etc. detail possible.

She has already scheduled me to accompany her to 2 finalization of adoptions at the court house at the end of the month, and a home study in October. Weeeeeeeeee! My head is spinning.