We recently interviewed the program director of a Texas adoption agency, Caitlin Phillips.
Q: What Makes Your Job Something Worth Getting Up For In The Middle Of The Night?
A: You know, I’ve heard from parents in the delivery room or hospital say to me: “Your job is so cool!” And then I think, yeah, it really is cool that I have this job! No other job gives you a close, meaningful connection with your clients like this job does. As adoption specialists, we are not only here for support and education—which are really important—but we’re also here for the nitty gritty personal stuff about having and loving babies, and all the emotions that go along with it.
Every case is so different, and every birth mom is so different. It’s a privilege to work with each one of them. There are always challenges, but there are really cool experiences that happen with each birth mom and adoptive family that we get to work with. I feel so fortunate to be a part of that journey.
Q: Take Us Back To The Beginning. Why Social Work?
A: Everyone who goes into social work has some life experience that draws them to the field. No one grows up saying ‘I want to be a social worker when I’m older.’ They grow up wanting to be a firefighter or an astronaut. In my own case, my early life experiences got me interested in working with troubled teens—and when I went to college, I majored in social work and went on to get an MSW.
Q: Why Adoption?
A: I ended up moving to Texas, where I got a job approving foster homes and working with foster families—some of which went on to adopt. In this position, I found that I had a passion for working with these families that were adopting, and that there was real joy in the adoption process. I wanted to become part of it in a more direct way, to help parents understand and navigate their way through it. I then found a job where I was working directly with birth moms and adoptive families, as an adoption specialist at a Texas adoption agency.
Q: What Was Your First Experience Like As An Adoption Specialist?
A: I had a very strong connection with my first birth mom. It was her first child, and I ended up being in the delivery room while she was having her baby. The nursing staff asked me to hold her leg while she was in labor. My face must have turned white— one of the nurses turned to me and asked, “Do you do this very often?” She knew!
That first experience is one that I will always remember. I didn’t realize that supporting a birth mom could be so intimate, but I was glad it was. Since then, I’ve had a genuine love for working with birth moms. We are there to help and support them through every step of the process—and afterwards too. And we are there for their babies.
Q: What Are Some Challenges?
A: Each case is unique and presents its own challenges. Something new always seems to come up that we haven’t learned about before or haven’t dealt with previously.
One very challenging aspect of this job arises when a mom chooses—at the last moment, after the baby is born—to become the child’s parent rather than to proceed with the adoption. This is her right, and we totally understand and respect that. But it can be very heartbreaking for the adoptive parents, and their disappointment makes it very difficult for us as well. This job definitely takes a team effort. With adoption, we are dealing with real people—their feelings, their decisions, their challenges. Every situation is different, but every situation is also special. I feel really privileged to be a part of my team, and a part of the amazing journey that is adoption.
For more information on adoption, go to Texas Adoption Center’s blog:
You also learn more at Texas Adoption Center’s website.