June 27, 2012

My Adoption Internship

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , at 7:30 pm by Tamara

I mentioned here how one of the things we were concerned about if we want overseas was the timing of my internship.  Three years ago I decided to go back to school for my degree in Psychology: Christian Counseling through Liberty University Online.  I finished my coursework in May (YAY!!) and then needed to complete an internship in order to graduate.

I was pretty stressed out about trying to find a position.  I have a hard time asking for help when I have nothing to give in return (I know, I know: pride), plus I felt rather insecure/ridiculous looking for a counseling internship as an undergrad student. I was also really unsure how it was going to work with Berean, since Adam’s working three jobs and not available much to watch him.  And, honestly I was resenting having to be away from Berean, even if only part-time.  I love staying at home with him!

So, frankly, I put off looking until way too late, and was really down to the wire.  I started praying hard that God would help me find an internship where I could both really learn something and really serve Him.  Praise the Lord he’s faithful even when I’m not, because he graciously answered my prayers to help me find a position.  Through a long, unlikely string of people that stretched over several states, I was connected with a non-profit that provides support services for orphans and adoptive/foster families.

I’ve been doing all sorts of stuff, from interviewing adoptive families, to researching grants, to soliciting donations, to helping deliver meals.  Tomorrow I find out about doing some work with an agency that uses animals in therapy, which I am REALLY excited about.  I think animal-assisted therapy could be fantastic for kids with attachment disorders.  In July I get to sit in on the CORE adoption training that Colorado requires for potential adoptive parents, which is another huge blessing because it’s a costly training and they’re letting me attend for free.

Our most recent big event was a night where foster and adoptive families dropped off their kids for a one night VBS-like program.  The goal was to give them a much-needed night off and hopefully relieve some pressure so that they can keep providing quality care and loving homes and avoid a failed placement.  We had about 50 kids and 20 volunteers, and I think it was a smashing success!

One thing I’ve been hearing consistently is that practical things like a meal or a night of babysitting can be a huge help.  One amazing adoptive mother of several children who’ve had a lot of struggles to overcome put it this way, “You can get so emotionally and mentally overwhelmed by the struggles your family is going through that just the thought of fixing dinner is completely overwhelming.  Sometimes just having a few meals delivered or someone helping you clean your house is enough to help you feel like you can face another day and not give up and send the child back into the system.”

It makes perfect sense to me.  When you’re going through a very emotionally demanding situation, it’s almost like your brain and spirit are dedicating so much of your strength to getting through it that there’s very little left over for practical, everyday things.  We understand this when it comes to things like grieving a lost loved one or giving birth, but I think we can miss how intense adoption can be and how much we can help and support adoptive families.

Something another mother said hit me like a ton of bricks: “It can be very hard to ask for help when you need it, because there can be a feeling that ‘You got yourself into this’ so you aren’t allowed to say you’re struggling and ask for help.”  That statement just about bowled me over.

I’ve been learning a lot from these adoptive parents and I want to write about it, but it’s kind of intimidating, because 1) I haven’t adopted (yet!) so I can’t speak from experience, and 2) I recognize that everyone’s experience is different, and some things I write about might be dead-on for some adoptive parents and completely in left-field for others.

But…adoption and orphan care are things I care about, and that I firmly believe we as the Church are called and commanded to do.  So I think it’s good to think and dialogue about it, even if I don’t get everything right.  And secondly, my internship supervisor asked me to write about it.  So I don’t really have a choice.  ;)

At any rate, hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll be posting more thoughts, both what I’m hearing from adoptive parents and what I’m studying in the Word.  If you have adopted or fostered, feel free to comment with your thoughts and experiences!  And if you know someone who has adopted or fostered, why not see if you can drop off a meal and watch the kids for an evening (or whatever else they need!)?  : )

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12 Comments »

  1. Ben said,

    Glad to hear this from you, I’ll tell Gina what’s going on with you guys. We’re praying. Keep posting, I appreciate the thoughts – in this one “It can be very hard to ask for help when you need it, because there can be a feeling that ‘You got yourself into this’ so you aren’t allowed to say you’re struggling and ask for help” was a great thought!

    • Tamara said,

      Thanks, Ben! I love your blog, too! The recent pictures of the girls were TOO cute. Can’t wait to see little man, too!!

  2. Lori hetzep said,

    Tamara, take it from one who knows. Parents can and will be overwhelmed especially with a child with attachment disorder, coupled forcing with a child who is greiving for the loss of a home .family, country no matter how difficult ir neglectful. Or abusive their situation was. Animal thearpy works. An animal does not hurt, an animal can help sooth a child with sensory issues as well. An animal is not putting pressure on a child to love them. I know nadya loves it.horses dogs, any animal. All parents need a respite even for one night for a few hours. Some family members will not reach out to he because they do
    Nott want to feel like they have failed, or afraid people will pass judgement on their decision to adopt or foster. Look into local social services like easter seals they have respite services for a day. meals???? Yes!

    not understand attachment diso rd er or rad. A parent may or in most cases feel trapped. Perhaps feeling t

  3. Lori hetzel said,

    Oops tamara, there r a typos! I just woke up and my eyes were still not focused but had to write.lost track of time and needed to get ready for work. I’ll skip out on breakfast. Congrats on this opportunity! As always, please feel free to ask me for advice or if u need any information. ( i was typing way to fast this morning). :-)

  4. Lori hetzel said,

    I just realized i sent my 1st posting accidentally before completing. What a dope! What i was saying was that family,friends do not understand these disorders. They can see first hand how this child has perhaps turned the family upside down. “i they can’t do it, how can we help them even for a few hours”? uneducated people pass judgement ,whether secretley or personally making a parent second guess their decision. A family can feel like they are drowing with no life preserver.
    Amimals that are trained for thearpy, can help a child learn how touch without the animal showing agression. They learn that touch can be a good thing. Kids look forward to seeing the animals. even a child who is fearful can stand by and see how wonderful these visits are and help aid them into trust.

    • Tamara said,

      Thanks for your thoughts! Yes, I’m really excited to learn more about the animal therapy. There are a couple classes they offer that I really want to take if I can afford them.

  5. Lori hetzel said,

    I just realized i sent my 1st posting accidentally before completing. What a dope! What i was saying was that family,friends do not understand these disorders. They can see first hand how this child has perhaps turned the can stand by and see how wonderful these visits are and help aid them into trust.

  6. Linda Schneider said,

    So glad to hear about your internship experience. The whole adoption process is something that so desperately needs more professional support. Considering the number of people that adopt, it is staggering to see how little resource they have to get them thru the emotionally draining process. Jamie & Jeremy have been dealing with this for about a year now. The devastation of a failed adoption, having preemie twins in NICU for 99 days, and now the adoption is final but they are having new legal issues with the birth mom. More people need to know how overwhelming the adoption process can be. Please contact me if you decide to write more about this topic.

    • Tamara said,

      Linda,
      I’ve been hoping to talk with you and Jamie–just send you a Facebook message!

  7. Katy said,

    How cool that you get to be a part of that! Praying for you!

  8. Lori hetzel said,

    Suggested books:
    Raising adopted children :lois melina
    The boy who was raised a dog
    Adopting the older child:claudia jewitt
    The weaver’s craft:
    Holding time:martha welch
    Helping children cope with separation and loss:gregory keck

    • Tamara said,

      Thanks, Lori! I found them all on Amazon and added them to my list!


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