2021 In Review

Hello all,

Happy end of 2021! I hope you’ve stayed safe and healthy and Covid-free this year. It’s been a long time since I’ve written regularly on this blog, and I suppose I owe you some life updates that will explain my relative silence. This post is a short recap on what this past year has entailed.

January – May:

I completed my second semester of practicum at a child grief center, working with children who were either anticipating the death of a parent or who had recently lost someone significant. I found this work to be difficult but rewarding and complimentary to my adoptee advocacy, because grief is such a central theme in adoption. A couple of my goals in wanting to better understand how children grieve death were to be able to more articulately advocate for the prevention of unnecessary loss whenever possible and to examine the use of grief rituals with death that do not exist with losses due to adoption. No children should have to experience such big losses so early in their lives, but when they do, they and their families should absolutely be supported.

During this time, I also finished my final semester of my graduate studies. In May, I graduated with my Master of Social Work degree, concentration in Violence and Injury Prevention, from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. I was honored to be inducted into the Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society. Much of my energy this spring was focused on finishing coursework, looking for a job, saying goodbye to meaningful graduate school friends and faculty, and tying up all of the loose ends necessary to graduate. Completing graduate school has been a dream of mine, and it feels remarkable to know that I am another step closer to even larger aspirations.

Obligatory Graduation Photo

June:

I participated on two panel presentations with the Korean American Adoptee and Adoptive Family Network (KAAN) Conference this year during the weeklong virtual conference. The first presentation titled, “Understanding the Nature of our Adoptee Identitties,” was co-facilitated with a fellow KAAN Advisory Council member. Together, we discussed our individual experiences as Asian American adoptees and the significant events that shaped our identity development using two identity frameworks. The second panel I participated in was called, “Invisible Among Us: Kinship Perspectives From Intercountry and Intergenerational Adoptees,” in which Kaomi Lee of the Adapted podcast facilitated a conversation between me and a Vietnamese adoptee on transracial/transnational adoptee community growth and solidarity. I so look forward to these chances to connect with other adoptees, and I am even more excited to see everyone in Denver, Colorado in June 2022!

July:

I am fortunate that my job search during my final semester was fairly brief before I found and accepted a job that interested me. In July, I started my first full-time professional position in the field of my studies. I currently work as a public adoptions social worker with children in the foster care system, families transitioning their placement from foster to adoptive in nature, and prospective waiting adoptive parents who want to adopt directly from the public welfare system.

I have a lot of complicated feelings about being a part of this reactionary system that has so many issues. I am acutely aware that my position as an adoption worker will make me seem more credible to some in the adoption community and less credible to others. I plan to use my critical eye to continue challenging policies and advocating for change where needed. In spite of the challenges, I hope that I can facilitate some genuinely meaningful life transitions for young people and their families while keeping youth voices and desires at the center.

August:

At the beginning of August, I received a revise and resubmit letter (an R&R as it is known in the research world) in response to my first serious attempt at submitting a manuscript to an academic journal. At the beginning of the year, my favorite professor at the Brown School encouraged me to write for a special issue of the journal, Child Abuse and Neglect, on the topic of adoption and trauma. In addition to my 18 credit course load, research fellowship, and practicum, I challenged myself to write a paper worth submitting. My professor read multiple drafts during the spring and walked me through the submission and revision processes. Doing additional research for my manuscript in August while learning my full time job was intense but rewarding to accomplish.

September:

I learned the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) Assessment tool and passed the exam to become CANS certified.

October:

At the beginning of October, my research team at the Center for Innovation in Child Maltreatment Policy, Research, and Training (CICM) at the Brown School submitted our first manuscript with the project I have been on during my two-year-long research fellowship. This manuscript discusses an intervention to empower Black families while doing child welfare research. I am so grateful that my team has kept me on post-graduation so that I can see more stages of our project.

I also passed a state statutes exam, earning a temporary social work license, which I can use as I prepare for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) national exam.

Toward the end of October, I was accepted into the Training in Adoption Competency (TAC) Program for adoption clinicians. This program was developed by the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) and is a 72 hour training held over the course of a year. Though the content seems fairly elementary for me, I am committed to learning as much as I can from the trainers and my peers, and I am genuinely interested in seeing how adoption professionals are being trained in adoption “competency.” My cohort includes seven other participants, and it is heartening to see adoption workers trying to better themselves for the adoptees and adoptive families they are serving.

November:

I accepted an invitation from JaeRan Kim of Harlow’s Monkey to participate as a keynote panelist at the 10th Biennial Adoption Initiative Conference hosted by St. John’s University and Montclair State University in March of 2022. The theme of the conference this year is “The Evolution of Adoption Practice: Activist and Community Perspectives.” I am thrilled to contribute to this topic from the lenses of adoptee, adoptee activist/blogger, and adoption worker.

I also started my first solo cases with families on my caseload during November.

Next Year:

In 2022, I would like to pass the ASWB national exam to become a licensed practicing social worker. I’d like to write at least once per month on my blog again. I hope to get my manuscripts published. And I’d also like to apply to PhD programs and hopefully continue my education and knowledge of issues, interventions, and theories relevant to adoption. I’m telling you these intentions to hold myself accountable. Whatever your dreams and goals are for this next year, I am looking forward to connecting and continuing this important dialogue.

Best wishes for a peaceful start of the year,

Grace

6 responses to “2021 In Review

    • Thank you so much! How far are you in your program again? I’d love to chat about PhDs sometime! (Also, one of my undergrad adoptee friends is at BC for grad school right now.)

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  1. OMG, I had to take a nap after reading all of that. Congratulations and carry on your important work and enjoy!

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