National Adoption Month: An Interview with Foster, Kinship, and Adoption Staff

Liz Roberts, a therapist in our Foster, Kinship, and Adoption Counseling Services, and Lori Jalkiewicz, Program Director for Foster, Kinship, and Adoption Counseling Services, talk about the role of Foster, Kinship, and Adoption staff and provide some insight on the adoption process.

What made you pursue working in Foster, Kinship, and Adoption Counseling Services (FKA)?
Liz: I had previously worked with birth families and saw the need that existed within foster and adoptive families. I have now been working at Robins’ Nest for 9 years and with FKA services for over 3 years.

What do you wish the general population understood about the adoption process?
Liz: The foster to adoption process can be lengthy and frustrating, but it is incredibly rewarding. Families who go through the foster to adoption process tend to celebrate the adoption more because of the emotional investment it entails.
Lori: My advice to the community would be to just provide emotional support and conversation to anyone they may know who is going through the adoption process. It really helps these families to have any type of support around them.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering adoption?
Lori: The adoption process is going to be tough, but it is incredibly rewarding. I would tell anyone thinking about going through the process or who is already going through the process to accept any help and support you can get. Developing good support systems personally, professionally, and within your family will greatly help you. Those who have good support around them succeed.

What do you consider to be the most rewarding part of your job?
Liz: I think the most rewarding part of what I do is when a kid ‘gets it’ and understands their situation with its positives and negatives and makes a turning point towards the future. It’s the same situation that happens with the parent and getting them to understand. A lot of parents struggle with wanting to accept the child and it takes effort to be able to work through that resistance. Families tend to get stuck and lose faith over getting over that hump, and it’s rewarding to see families be able to do that and move towards a future together.
Lori: It’s hard work for everyone but it’s worth it for everyone. There are many challenges within the foster care system and the foster to adopt process. Foster parents don’t always realize/didn’t prepare for traumatized children who have struggles to overcome when they come into a family. It’s up to everyone involved to help children become able to talk about their experience and work to help them get over trauma and learn how to respond to what has happened to them. Environment makes a huge difference for children, and while staff are there to point things out to the parents and assist them in helping their children, parents ultimately have so much power to heal. Being able to empower families to do that encourages staff to press on.