Adoption STAR’s Birth Parent Department Supervisor Sue Shaw talks about the various ways adoption has been a part of her personal and professional life.
I recently read that 6 out of 20 Americans are touched by adoption. I started thinking about how I have been touched by adoption before I started working in the field.
I remember being very young and knowing that my cousins were adopted. It was never really talked about, but it wasn’t a secret either. As far as I was concerned, my aunt and uncle were their parents and my cousins were my cousins and that was that.
When I was in grade school, my mother’s best friend was going through the process of adopting a child out of the foster care system. I remember her looking through the infamous “blue books” full of children that were waiting to be adopted. When we would go over to visit with her, we would look through the books, too. When I was looking through the books as a young child, I remember thinking it was as if I was shopping in a catalog for a new friend. I also remember being told that these children’s parents were not able to take care of them and that they all needed a new mommy and daddy. As an adult, I now understand the magnitude of those “blue books” and hope that all the children in care ultimately find their forever families.
In my late teens I had a friend who was adopted. One day, my friend told me that she and her family were going to begin the search for my friend’s birth parents. I was thrilled by the idea and wanted to help in anyway that I could. My friend made it clear that she did not want my help, and at the time I remember feeling hurt that she did not want to include me in the process. All these years later, I realize that this was something that my friend and her family needed to do themselves. It was their story and it was private.
I’m glad that 11 years ago I accepted a position in the adoption field. When I was young, I never thought I’d wind up becoming an adoption caseworker. At that time, my dream was to be a cast member on Saturday Night Live! That never happened (obviously), but I do love being touched by adoption on a daily basis. I would not have it any other way.