Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Price

Hi all,

I'm going to bare my soul a little bit tonight. The last few weeks in my work have been very difficult. And honestly, the "price" that is required to be in my line of work feels like a lot right now. There are so many blessings in my work, and I love what I do, but there is no perfect "job" and I guess that's what I need to whine about tonight.

When things are going well in the adoption world (for me, this means the Ghana adoption world) life is grand. I get to make people happy, and in return they feel happy and I'm a "good guy" in their lives. But lately things haven't been going all hunky dory in the Ghana adoption world. It's not the end of the earth, but the government is changing requirements and standards...travel times are increasing...costs definitely aren't going down...and I think people are starting realize that Ghana is never going to be a program that is super-standardized. When a standard in the program changes (no singles, parents going to court, longer travel time) I am the one that delivers that news. Of course I should be--I'm not saying it should be different. But it's hard.

Adopting families are usually highly emotional. I certainly am when I'm adopting (!) so that isn't exactly news to me. But it makes it hard. I know that when I deliver "bad" news I am impacting a family's entire day, week, or year. That makes me a bad guy, even if families know in their minds that I am just doing my job. Whether it's reminding folks of list rules, or giving news of a major change in the program, I feel like a huge bad guy. It changes the way a family looks at me.

I wish people could see that those bad days--delivering bad news--impacts me too. I would never say it is to the same extent; I don't have a child riding on the news I give. But I hurt when things don't go well. It feels very personal to me when someone has an issue with our staff in Ghana, or when I have to give someone news that will affect their future.

Back in the early 2000's when I helped people adopt the experience got away from me. I got so personally involved that my adoption cases ate up my personal life. I got up in the middle of the night several times a night to see if there was news from the other side of the world. I spent time in my office "working" when I should have been caring for my young family.

The thing is...when I am working in adoption my families aren't just "clients." I become friends with most of them. I truly care about them. But when something goes wrong, sometimes friendships goes out of the window in that family's eyes--and I turn into just some "adoption person" that they think doesn't care. That's what happened in my previous experience working in adoption. Eventually a few families that I called friends decided that I was the bad guy and began to really verbally abuse me. At the time I decided that no job was worth such abuse and I resigned my position.

When I started working for AAI this time I tried to put things in place so that history wouldn't repeat itself. But I just can't seem to NOT become emotionally involved with a family's experience. I can't NOT take it personally when someone changes me over from a good guy in their mind, to a bad guy. It hurts. It really hurts.

I spent my Friday afternoon crying. The price that has to be paid for this job felt too high at that particular time. It feels too high a cost sometimes to sacrifice being able to have friendships within the adoption community so that I can have this job (remember,I have a child from Ghana so I just want to be another parent sometimes). I have tried to have my cake and eat it too--carry close friendships with families while at the same time working to help them adopt from Ghana. But on Friday it felt impossible to do both things effectively. Just impossible.

So I am at a crossroads. The emotional cost of trying to maintain friendships with the families I work with is very high. But trying to do my work without being friends with those I work with feels hollow. I don't know how to separate myself, be more objective, and just do my job. But it is excruciatingly painful when a family decides I am a bad guy rather than a good guy. People just don't understand how much that hurts.

So please pray for me as I try to figure out how to proceed with my work. No way am I resigning--nothing like that. I just feel like I've got to get a better handle on things. How do you call someone your friend and then not feel hurt when they decide you aren't their friend anymore?

I look at people like Merrily (director of AAI) and wonder how she has done this work for 30 years. She has a secret--she must have--and I want it. I want this to be my life's work. Thirty years from now I want to still be doing this work. I have to figure out succeed at this--hopefully without sacrificing my desire to be friends with those I work with.

Anita

11 comments:

Jena 7:23 PM  

Anita-
I haven't commented in LONG time...
I WILL be praying for you- I know God is somewhere in all this...(I have no idea where) and I pray that He will speak to you...

Heather 8:26 PM  

SWEET Anita,

Please remember that you are wise, and compassionate, and hardworking. You are the single best adoption worker that we've ever encountered, and that is because you live the adoption with us, you love us, and you love those kids. I truthfully have no answers for you, just love and hugs. Try to recall the many families that talk about Auntie Anita daily, not the ones who are having a rough patch right now.

Love You, Auntie Anita,
Heather and her Crew (especially 4 Ghanaian little ones)

Amalama 9:28 PM  

Hi Miss Anita,

Sending you BIG hugs today... I've often thought, as I've shared with you, that your job must be so emotionally taxing- I truly don't think I could do it. But I must concur that working with you has been more than I could have asked for and getting to know you beyond just as a coordinator has been a great bonus in this amazing, emotional process.

I have been meaning to write you, and Merrily, a letter about our experience, but boy howdy, gotta get everyone well and take a breath, but it is on my list because I want you (and your boss) to know what your involvement in this process has done for our family. I think you probably know already!

You are appreciated and loved by many... perhaps we just need to make sure we'll all as vocal as others that are unhappy. :) I hope that you have some GREAT experiences in this adoption world soon and if it were in YOUR control, you would because you do care so much for your families.

God bless you my friend,
Amy Fabu

sue 9:37 PM  

Oh, Anita,

I can hear your pain.

If people turn on you or are no longer kind because you're doing your job, then the problem is with them, not you.

I am sure you know that, and I am sure it still hurts.

I did not always get the answers I was looking for thru Gifty's adoption, but you always handled things so well.

I appreciate your hard work & your kind heart.

When people ask me about the Ghana program, the first thing I say is that you are great to work with!

I will keep you in my prayers.

Love,

Sue

Zimmerman family 10:14 PM  

Anita,

It breaks my heart to hear you were crying on Friday because of what someone said to you. You have been the best person to work with during this adoption. You are a kind, sweet hearted woman who sometimes has to do her job. We love you and respect you and the work you are doing.

God Bless you Anita and I know he will!
Hilda and family

A. Gillispie 10:18 PM  

Okay, you guys are seriously making me soak my shirt with tears. I am having a hard time right now trying to figure all of this out, but I hope I never lose any of your friendships. Above all else, I care about you as friends--even when I know I shouldn't allow myself to get that involved.
Anita

whenpigsfly 10:48 PM  

BIG hugs for you my friend!!
Being one of your friends AND having been one of your "Families" I know how you care for and how much you love your families! Praying that God will comfort you as you work through the changes in the Ghana program, and give you "thicker skin" to protect your precious loving spirit from feeling unnecessary and or unintended hurts, even as He gives the emotional, waiting families the comfort and strength they need, and the clarity in their emotional states to know you are doing all you can possibly do for each of them and would certainly spare them the "less-than-pleasant" parts of adoption if you could! I will pray too, that God show you some guilt -free ways to close your "mental office" to the families and faces and family details at "quitting time" for your own family time and that your family time may be focused on things Gillispie. I love you dear freind!!
Linda

Renee 6:11 AM  

((((Anita))))

Oh, I want to cry thinking of you crying. I am so sorry for your hurt.

You were so amazing on our adoption journey. We were all stepping into the great unknown together and when the news was good you rejoiced with us and when the news was bad you wept with us.

We never for one moment doubted that your heart was for the good of our children and for our good.

Your job is not an easy one, but it is one which is reaping eternal investments. You are living James 1:27 each an every day. Please do not be discouraged in well doing!

You are LOVED!
Renee

SupermomE11 12:19 PM  

Oh Anita... I am so there with you. I definitely know how it feels at times... that you never can do enough... that you are either hero or villian (when in truth you are neither). It is so hard to have your work also be your passion and be something so personal. How do we do this job and not put our whole hearts into it? I have really struggled with having people treat me badly and/or judge me over things I have no control over. It's tough.
I try to hold on to the great moments and the emotional rewards when things are hard. I remind myself why I am doing what I am doing and why it is something I feel so passionately about.

Hang in there my friend... you are a wonderful person doing a WONDERFUL job doing an important job. Try not to let the things people say or do when they are struggling emotionally bring you down.

And call me anytime you need a shoulder. :)

hugs,
Erin

Kristin Jag 12:00 AM  

Just getting home after a couple of days and reading this now for the first time! I, too, have to echo what others have said in that you are one of the highlights for me in this adoption process. The fact that you adopted from Ghana recently and that you LOVE the country and the children, just makes me feel so much better in the process when we get thrown for our enivitable loops. I know you have our 'back' and can't imagine how draining some days would be because you do care for all the clients/friends. Thanks for all you do Praying for you and hoping you have had a better week so far!

In His Dust 8:43 PM  

I can not explain to you how amazing you are! And I just about started crying just now too! You have been the absolute best person to work with throughout this whole adoption! I could not have asked for anything better! I never once thought of you as a "bad guy" and really can't believe how anyone could. You have a job to do and you have no control over things not turning out how people may want them to. You are so great! And have been SUCH a blessing to our family! I will be praying for you.