Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Clinical Assessments

As you know, I'm interning in Adoptions, which is definitely a field of Social Work that I'm very interested in. Many of my Social Work classmates, as well as close friends and family, are very aware that I'm not interested in the Mental Health, Addiction, etc. side of the profession. It's not for me, and I have no interest in it. I'm way more interested in the Macro side of the profession (lobbying, advocacy, prevention programming, community organizing/building, etc), as well as working with refugees, teen mothers and obviously, children!

That being said, It has been a bit difficult for me to really see the clinical side to the work I've been doing at my internship. Surely, a clinical assessment is made during the home study process, and a clinical, therapeutic session occurs between a social worker and a birth mom, or a social worker and adoptive parents (grief and loss).

Yesterday, Supervisor and I were reviewing some evaluations I have to turn in at the end of the semester. One of them involved checking off all the areas of the Generalist Intervention Model you have experienced during the semester. I was having a hard time really checking off some of the boxes because I can't identify any one experience that falls under whatever category. Supervisor laid it out for me and gave me lots of examples. She said making the clinical connections comes with experience, esp. in a field that isn't so ingrained in clinical/therapeutic environment. Ok, cool.

I had the opportunity to observe the Disclosure meeting for the Andrews, where they received the entire history (that CHS has) on Carissa - medical, social, educational, legal, etc. Many questions were asked, lots of information was provided. Mrs. Andrews is completely optimistic about it all, which is good - optimism keeps people going. However, a realistic outlook about welcoming a child into your home who has had severe trauma over her life, in many forms, and has bounced around the system for years, is needed even more so. Mr. Andrews is the realist of the duo, and once the medical/mental health conversation began with Carissa's therapist (keep in mind, the Andrews are well aware of Carissa's past), Mr. Andrews made a comment that he really wanted Mrs. Andrews to hear all of this, again. He wants her to come down outta the clouds and step into this new relationship well grounded. Mrs. Andrews feels Carissa's past is just that - the past - and that is where it will stay. She is focused on creating a new life for her, which is fantastic, but you obviously cannot discount her past. Her past is what made her the young lady she is today and you just can't throw it out the window. Whatever the case is with the Andrews, I know they won't give up on Carissa as others have. They have already put so much into learning about her, well before the selection staffing. They obviously feel a strong bond with Carissa, and I think she really hit the jackpot with the Andrews.

I told Supervisor about my experience in the meeting and my thoughts on the Andrews and Carissa. Once I was finished, she said "You just made a clinical assessment." Woot!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wow. I have so much to update...

This post may be long. I really need to take the time to write more often. :/

My internship is going to be over for the semester in 4 weeks! I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed working at my internship, and I can't rave enough about my awesome field instructor. I couldn't ask for a better relationship between the two of us. We have similar personalities and views, so we get along fantastic. My field professor came to meet with us and we both sang each other's praises. It was a proud moment. :)

Last week was crazy busy. One day, we had 3 home visits and one finalization at court. Another day, I attended a selection staffing, had the meeting w/ my field professor and attended a Life Books event with foster children. Insane!

We met a young couple who I shall call James and Eliana. They've have had no success in conceiving naturally (3 years of trying), so they've turned to adoption. You could definitely see that there is still a small tinge of sadness in Eliana, but she is also a very strong-willed woman and knows this is the best path for her and James. They live in a cute little bungalow with a sweet dog. They both have successful jobs and seem to know how to work out their lives when there is a new baby in it. It was the first meeting with them. Next, we meet with each of them one on one. This will be my first stab at writing a home study! Woot! I'm excited for this couple. They remind me a lot of hubs and myself. :)

We also met with another family who adopted a Safe Haven baby. This was the 2nd of 3 post-placement visits, and I will also be writing the final home investigation. Baby Mercedes is doing great! She is growing and eating her way through life! That lil teeny tiny baby ate 7 oz of food while we were there! When we arrived, Mercedes was halfway through a 5 oz bottle. Once she was finished, she got a lil fussy. Mama gave her a pacifier to see if that would soothe her. I don't think I've ever seen a child suck on a pacifier the way Mercedes did! You could definitely see that she was expecting to get something out of it. After a minute or so, she realized that thing wasn't producing any milk and she let us know she wasn't pleased with our trickery! So, mama fixed her 2 more oz and she gulped them down! It was kinda humorous.

We attended an adoption finalization at the courthouse for the Daniels family. I had not yet met this family because they went through the entire process before I started interning. Baby Addison has had some developmental delays, and they once thought she had fetal alcohol syndrome, but I believe that has been cleared. She is breathtakingly adorable though, and she is going to be one beautiful young lady! Mama Daniels is a beautiful woman, probably in her mid-forties. Papa Daniels is definitely older, maybe in his 60s. No big deal, to me, but I bring it up because a lot of people do question the age cutoff for adoption. I am not sure there is a definite line. I believe it is up to the social worker to figure out if the family is able to provide for that child for the next 20 or so years. These people aren't slowing down anytime soon. They are very lively and mobile.

The finalization was quick, as always, and later on that day, we actually went to their house for a final goodbye and good luck. (However, they are actually going to be starting the process again in January for a 2nd baby!) Mama stays-at-home and papa does some sort of financial job. He makes great money, as evidenced by their home. Mama is a crafty lady and showed me her craft room. She makes shoes, handbags, clothing, carpentry, upholsters furniture, draws/paints, etc. She is very handy, much more so than her hubby. :) She grew up on a farm - I think that has a lot to do with it. She painted Addison's room and made a lot of the furniture. I was amazed at the beauty of this room. It is every little girl's dream, and Addison will no doubt love it up into her early teens, for sure. Mama Daniels was SO nice. We sat and talked of all kinds of things, and she was so warm and sincere. She definitely disrupts the "snobby" stereotype for the rich women of this town. LOL! They also have a small dog who I just fell in love with - and I don't often like small dogs! So cute and very smart. He let me hold him like a baby and walk around the house with him. :)

On a separate day, I attended a Selection Staffing, which is where the adoption specialist, dependency case manager, therapist, and other important decision makers in the adoption field, come together and decide on the BEST family for a child. Well, it just so happens that there was only one family to present for a young girl I will call Carissa. Carissa is 12 years old and has been in the system for quite some time. She presents with a myriad of developmental and emotional problems, and has definitely been in trouble because of them. However, Carissa was picked to attend the 10-week Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting seminar that all foster parents have to go through. During that 10-weeks, Carissa fell in love with the Andrews, and they in turn adore her to pieces. The Andrews even took it further to speak with her therapist, psychologist and others to really get an understanding about Carissa. They have shown sincere interest in providing a healthy, stable life for this young lady. Carissa has spoken out for her adoration for the couple many times, which is why this family was presented. I am not surprised at all by the outcome of the meeting, which of course, was positive because the match was made! This isn't a typical selection staffing though. Usually 3 - 4 families are presented and much deliberation is needed. This was a special one though. YAY!

After the meeting, we called the Andrews to let them know. They were ecstatic!!! We can not tell Carissa until the Andrews go through disclosure though, so she does not yet know. Now - here is the cool part of the story. Later that day, we had a Life Books event for some of the foster children and we invited 3 or 4 prospective adoptive parents to attend and mingle with the children. Life Books are a very important resource for the child, as it is a reminder of where they've come from, and where they are headed. Well, Carissa and the Andrews attended and they sat together the entire time and worked on Carissa's life book. I was beaming on the inside. It was so awesome to know that these 2 wonderful people are her new family and she doesn't even know it yet! This was my first time seeing the 3 of them together, and I definitely agree that the match is perfect. Carissa hit the jackpot!