The Beginning: I walked up the trail to the lake. Looking around I saw a group of teenagers sitting and talking. I walked over to the group and began talking about the beautiful day. Then I looked at Kristen and asked, “Are you ready to go?”
Kristen was a 14 year old foster child and I was her social worker. I had received a phone call from the school stating Kristen had skipped school. I knew where to find her and went to the lake. There were no harsh words but there was an expectation that Kristen would come with me to return to school.
The Impact: Kristen was a beautiful girl but she had experienced a difficult life. She needed someone to stand with her and support her as she tried to discover the life that God had always intended for her. There are many stories I could tell of my time with Kristen. I always wondered if anything I did or anything I said would have an impact on Kristen’s life. Years later I discovered that Kristen was married to a wonderful man and had twin boys. And she remembered me and the time I spent with her.
The Example: Working with Kristen made me see how important it was to take time with older children. To set an example for them in life. To be a confidant. To support their dreams. To walk with them through the difficult times. I began to see that in order for a child to succeed, he or she needs a firm foundation. I began to think of ways that I could help young pregnant women learn how to parent their child so that the cycle of foster care would end.
After raising my own children, I began working with Nightlight Christian Adoptions as a pregnancy counselor and then a Domestic Program Coordinator. I began to live my dream of assisting women in parenting their children. Being a parent means loving your child so much that you make decisions that are best for them even if it makes your heart aches. I have walked with woman after woman as they made the most loving choice for their child: to allow an adoptive family to raise them as their own.
The Support: I left Nightlight for a short time to work with a pregnancy center in my hometown with the goal to create a safe place for women who are hurting. Women who think abortion is the only answer. Women who are struggling to break the cycle of abuse, neglect, domestic violence. To help women provide a firm foundation for their children.
God eventually led me back to Nightlight as an International Program Coordinator. Now I work with orphanages and central authorities, attorneys and private investigators, government officials and others to help find homes for children who are orphans. To help children to be placed in loving families who can provide that firm foundation for the child to live and thrive.
The Ever Changing Field: The amazing thing about being a social worker is that it is an ever changing field. Seeing new opportunities to help people. Learning new ways to make a difference. Reaching out a hand to the hurting and the confused. Sometimes taking on more than I can handle, which is typical of almost every social worker. Always knowing that God has made some to be teachers, some to be caregivers, some to be authorities, and some to be social workers. I am honored that God chose to create in me the heart of a social worker.
No matter where you begin your journey as a social worker, you will find so many rewarding opportunities to impact, to lead by example, and to show your support to those who need it the most.