Why I Like Working in International Adoption


haiti-trip-2016-123About two years ago, I began working for MLJ Adoptions International as the Director of Social Services. Prior to that time, I worked for 23 years (yes, a while!) with a large child welfare agency that specialized in many services for children and families, including adoption. During that time, I supervised, developed and worked in programs such as foster care, independent living, kinship care, home-based family services, individual/group/family therapy, family preservation and reunification, Healthy Families, intensive and family model group homes, post adoption services, recruitment and retention, education and training, family assessment, and domestic/step-parent/international adoption. In 2014, I completed a training program with C.A.S.E. (Center for Adoption Support and Education) called Advanced Clinical Training for Adoption Competency where my interest in International Adoption piqued and, fortunately for me, the opportunity with MLJ became available.

When I see people from my former life in child welfare services, they often ask why I made the change. I enthusiastically tell people that working in¬†international adoption is ‚Äúthe icing on the cake of my social service experience.‚ÄĚ It truly is! My many earlier experiences were wonderful opportunities and gave me¬†a very sound core of abilities and knowledge in working with families and children, but working in international adoption has helped to expand my service ‚Äúreach‚ÄĚ from the USA to foreign countries. What an opportunity that has been!

International adoption reminds us that regardless of where someone lives, the need for and desire to have a permanent loving family is still paramount. It emphasizes to us that children, all children, are worth the time and effort it takes to provide them with permanency. It teaches us that love and care can overcome the initial barriers of language and culture. It reminds us that many biological parents love their children enough to recognize when they cannot provide for them financially or raise them to adulthood, and make that heart-wrenching decision to allow their child to be adopted. It allows us to meet such caring, compassionate prospective parents who want nothing more than to give their hearts and homes to a child. At times, it offers the opportunity to help a family in need when they require additional assistance in supporting their child. International adoption allows us to interact with other governments and countries and learn how to successfully work together for a common goal. It helps us to develop skills of kindness, patience and collaboration to assure that the goal is reached. It presents us with the chance to learn more about the world around us‚ÄĒthe countries, culture, traditions, language, and history‚ÄĒand understand that we all have much to offer each other. It sometimes gives us the chance to travel to these foreign lands and experience the people and their countries first-hand, a tremendous experience in appreciating and understanding where the children come from. It permits us to work with other adoption professionals around the US and the world, strengthening our beliefs that there are others who share our passion for children and families.

International adoption helps to bring our world closer together at a time where we often see violence and injustice occur as a way to separate us and polarize our feelings. It gives us a unique perspective from which to view human interaction. It opens our hearts to the tremendous possibilities of becoming united in an effort to help children all over the world. It is truly a career where hope, love and compassion can flourish and come to life! For me, working in international adoption is ‚Äúthe icing on my career cake‚ÄĚ and I am grateful for my chance to serve children and families in this field.

Karlene Edgemon works as MLJ Adoptions’ Director of Social Services. Throughout her 25 year social services career, Karlene has been able to watch adoption transform the lives of children and she is always brainstorming new ways to support adoptive families before, during and after their adoption.