Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Can Your Pain Help Others?

Remember that woman I told you I ran into at work and had a great conversation with? I hadn't really seen her since, until today. We bumped into each other in the cafeteria (by bumped into each other, I mean I saw her and ran up to say hi. She's become one of my favorite people!) and walked back to our respective office areas together. She asked me how I was doing, and I told her I was doing well. Then she said, "how are you really doing?" which had an underlying tone of "how are you doing when it comes to missing you daughter?". I appreciated her questioning me, because most people accept "fine" as an answer or don't care to dig deeper. Sometimes, I'm fine with that. Sometimes, I don't want to talk about it. Others, I do. When it's coming from a place of real concern and care, I appreciate people asking questions like that.

Anyways, I told her I was doing okay, hadn't gotten any photos of my little girl in a few weeks but overall I am doing well. I asked how her girls were and she lit up while talking about them. I know some people (ignorantly) say 'you can never love a child that you didn't birth yourself as much as you can love one you adopted,' but that, my friends, is very untrue. How anyone could hear the happiness in this woman's voice when she talks about her daughters and make a statement such as that is beyond me.

She asked me to refresh her memory on how far along I was in school. I told her, and she asked me what I was majoring in. Behavioral Science. She asked me if I wanted to work with adoption in any way, shape or form - did I want to be a social worker, a counselor, go into foster care? I told her I'd always thought about being a psychologist or counselor, and only recently thought about working with adoption. It really got me to thinking. I don't think I'd ever work directly under an agency - for many personal reasons. I would, however, love to work with expectant moms who are considering adoption or women and men who have recently placed.

My co-worker told me that sometimes, the best advice-givers are those who have been through it themselves. I must agree with her. At times, I feel having a career centered around adoption might be too emotionally taxing. Even now, I can't read too much about it on the internet; I can't partake in too many discussions without being overwhelmed and just wanting to "shut off." But at the same time, I feel the best person to empathize and understand the struggles that these girls and women (and boys and men) are going though would be someone who has walked in similar shoes.

What do you think? Do you think having a career centered around guiding and understanding others would be too hard on you (if it was a sensitive subject, such as adoption, addiction, abuse, etc) or do you think those who have "been there" are the best helpers, because they truly understand? Do you think it's a good idea to use your past experiences to help others in the future?


  1. Excellent post. I think it's both. I know a birth mom that's been a social worker for a long time. Her son is 10 now, so she's also been a bmom for a while too. She just recently started working for one of the few ethical agencies (that really pushes & helps moms to explore ALL their options - in fact she's only had 2 clients that have relinquished. The rest have all decided to parent) around. It's really been rough on her emotionally, and not all of it's just because it's a potential trigger-situation. But she's also VERY happy because she's helping moms in a similar situation to one she found herself in too.

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