Another guest post! I am so excited for today's guest writer! She is an adoption social worker and is being Jesus to those she works with! Let's dive in!
I imagine there have been a multitude of moments where God sits back with a heart chuckle and is amused by my attempts of trying to force my square plans into his round holes. He has always been faithful to show me where my futile attempts have still worked perfectly into a bigger plan that was started before I even took the first step in my own direction. My career in the adoption field started out as just that; me being so focused and determined to fit misaligned pieces together that I did not see the beauty in the calling that was placed onto my life.
As a teenager I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in stage 3B with a expected survival chance of 20%; but like I said I am naturally stubborn and I have a Father that is in the business of miracles. The experience completely changed the course of my life and I knew without a doubt that I would choose a career in the medical field and work with chronically and terminally ill children. After a couple degree changes; I was looking at my last few classes in Psychology and began applying for Child Life Specialist internships. I was waitlisted on the one I really desired and decided to start substitute teaching at my old elementary school. My former principal was doing the training that day and approached the class with a recruitment opportunity for volunteers that were needed for our counties CASA program. CASA’s are court appointed special advocates that are assigned to a child that has entered the foster care program to ensure they have a voice in the courtroom. Being curious I looked up information about our local foster care programs and saw a job listing for an investigator position with the state. I showed up to my interview nervous and still very naïve about the child welfare system. At the end of the interview the HR person recommended that I might fit in a legal caseworker position better and offered me a job that was in my area. I accepted the position and on June 16, 2008 I took my first timid step into this crazy journey.
Within the first month I had already been in intensive training, met some tenured workers that were anxious to share their war stories, and had gained some on the job experience. I was thrown deep into a world I was blessed to not have known growing up and I felt it came without a life jacket and too few lifeguards. I decided then that this would be a temporary position and began giving myself deadlines to start graduate school or find another job, but they came and passed each time one was set.
I was newly married and just 18 months after being hired was expecting our first child. I knew I needed the stability of my paycheck and healthcare so I started holding on to my position a little tighter. But as my belly grew so did my husband’s addictions and the problems in our marriage. I had become so skilled at creating service plans and encouraging parents to pull it together that I knew we could course correct and the population of our island of desolation became smaller and smaller. My personal life crumbled as cases became more difficult and under all the weight, I began to feel the pressure of slowly being crushed. In a tragic moment he made a decision that led to our divorce and eventually his parental rights being terminated. Through that process I knew in my heart that I could no longer serve parents in the capacity that they or their children deserved. My heart felt that it was void of grace for the hard times that they had fallen upon and it was not fair for them to not have someone that could cheer them on to achieve the changes needed to make their children safe and bring them home. I decided that it was time to leave my position but there were adoption cases I was working that filled me with such joy and hope. I looked forward to walking alongside families that were mending broken little hearts and creating stories of redemption.
As I was leaving my first interview for an outside company, I received a call from a worker that was in a specialized adoption unit that I had crossed paths with on a few occasions. She called to let me know that she was leaving the agency to become a full-time missionary but she felt that I should contact her supervisor. I wasn’t hopeful but I prayed that my steps would be directed and the door would be wide open. And after 6 ½ years in legal caseworker I transitioned with a seamless ease into that adoption unit where I am still joyfully employed today.
Since stepping into the role of a full-time adoption caseworker God has asked me to trust him ways that have tested and strengthened me, refined me in what sometimes feels like fire, and repaired and restored my hurting heart through every adoption journey that I have experienced. When I thought that I couldn’t possibly see the gospel any more clearly than I did when a family opened their door over and over to ensure siblings stayed together, or a teen boy was adopted weeks before his 18thbirthday, or a child who was never supposed to walk took off running down the hall at their finalization hearing; God decided to take me to a deeper level of understanding that truth. As I was serving and helping create other families, He was working on a plan to show me just how alive His promises truly are.
Since stepping into the role of a full-time adoption caseworker God has asked me to trust him ways that have tested and strengthened me, refined me in what sometimes feels like fire, and repaired and restored my hurting heart through every adoption journey that I have experienced. When I thought that I couldn’t possibly see the gospel any more clearly than I did when a family opened their door over and over to ensure siblings stayed together, or a teen boy was adopted weeks before his 18th birthday, or a child who was never supposed to walk took off running down the hall at their finalization hearing; God decided to take me to a deeper level of understanding that truth. As I was serving and helping create other families, He was working on a plan to show me just how alive His promises truly are.
Jillian, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Adoption can bring a family together in so many ways, and I love their story!
About the author
Jesus lover, wife, momma, teacher, and hopeful writer.