PAGE # 25

7:30 pm

Our dog, Jersey, was rolling around on the front lawn.  We did not want to discuss the details of Kendra's birth plan right outside our front door.  Just in case TJ appeared without warning.
"Come on Jersey!" I tugged at the leash.
We were quiet until we walked past three or four houses.
"Did she make sure no one is forcing Kendra into this?" Tom asked me.  
Tom was referring to my earlier phone conversation with the social worker, Paula.  
"Yeah, she claims that Kendra demonstrates more thoughtfulness and clarity than any other birth mom she has ever worked with.  Paula said she was really impressed with how deeply Kendra has processed the adoption plan."
Jersey ran around me.  I got tangled up in his leash for a minute and had to unravel myself before I could continue.
"Kendra initially planned on keeping the baby in the nursery, but now has decided to keep the baby in the room with her.  She's decided it's better to spend time with her before saying goodbye," I explained.  
I took a deep breath and continued:
"So, I asked Paula whether we could have an open adoption.  I mean, we only live a half hour away.  If she really can't take care of the baby, I don't see why that has to mean goodbye."
Tom was in full agreement with me.  But the social worker had not been:
"Look, Jennifer, that kind of arrangement requires a lot of advance planning and tremendous maturity from all the involved persons."
"But you just said that Kendra is the most processed birth mother that you've ever worked with," I had challenged.
"Yes, but I meant in terms of her decision making process.  Her marriage needs a lot of work.  They have a lot of growing up to do.  I don't think an open adoption would be advisable in this situation."
I was confused. 
"So, you're saying that an open adoption only works if the birth mother has her life together?  But if that were the case, why would such a birth mother be placing her kid for adoption in the first place?  I'm sorry, Paula, but I'm just not understanding why Kendra is not a good candidate for an open adoption."
Paula sounded apologetic: 
"Forgive me if I'm not making myself clear," she started.  "What I'm trying to say is that Kendra and her husband have a lot to work out.  I don't know if their marriage will make it.  And they already have two little boys. I don't think the complexity of their situation would be fair to anyone right now."
When I reiterated this part of the conversation to Tom, he stated that no one can know the inside of another couple's marriage.  
"I think Paula's an okay lady," Tom added, "But there's no way she can predict the future of their marriage.  And she's totally underestimating us.  We've been married for almost 17 years.  And we've been through a lot.  If any couple could make an open adoption work, I think we could."
"I think so too, but we still don't know if that's what Kendra wants."
"Can't we just call her and find out?" Tom asked.  "Why does everything have to go through Shelley and Paula?"
"I don't know," I said.  "Jim and Tracey used to talk to Ricky's birth mother every day.  They even did stuff together."  
"Yeah, I remember that," Tom said. 
"And I even asked if I should call Kendra, but Paula said not to.  That Kendra is tired and uncomfortable.  That this is a different situation than other birth mothers because Kendra already has two kids she is busy taking care of.  It kind of sounded like Kendra doesn't want to talk to us right now."
"Well, we have to respect her privacy then," Tom said.
Jersey was pulling me back toward our driveway, but I wasn't ready to go inside yet.  
"Maybe we'd be putting too much pressure on Kendra if we reached out to her?  I mean, if I were about to place my baby for adoption, would I really want to deal with some other couple's questions and stuff?  It might be too intrusive," I suggested.  
"I think we need to follow Kendra's lead," Tom said.  "This is her baby and her decision.  She needs to be in control of everything."
We walked up our driveway.  Jersey was trying to run inside.  He wanted his evening treat, but I wasn't finished describing the birth plan:
"Paula also said that Kendra wants us at the hospital."
"In the delivery room?" Tom's eyes were wide.
"No, no.  Nothing like that," I said.  "I guess she means in the waiting room."
"I can't imagine it," Tom said.
"I can't either," I admitted.
"She's not going to give away her baby," Tom decided.  "My parents don't think so either," Tom added.  "I mean, it's a little girl!  She has her two boys.  She can't give away her little girl!"
We sat down in the chairs just outside our front door.  
"Maybe she's just trying to show the husband that she will do anything to reconcile the marriage?" I wondered.  "But then, when the baby comes, maybe she's secretly hoping that her husband will say to keep her?" 
Tom nodded his head.  
"That's plausible.  Or...maybe she's still in love with the bio dad!  And hoping he comes to her rescue.  Didn't you notice how proud she looked when she showed us his picture?  I think she still loves him."
"I don't know about that.  She has a restraining order against him!"
"So what?" Tom countered.  "You're the one always saying how an abusive attachment can be more powerful than any other kind."
He was right.  We couldn't dismiss the possibility that Kendra was using the adoption plan as a ploy to try and win back her lover.  Anything was possible.
"Oh my God!  I totally forgot to tell you something else!"  I exclaimed.  
I undid Jersey's leash and let him back inside.  But he'd have to wait for his treat.  I couldn't bring this conversation indoors yet--I didn't want to talk about this in front of our kids.
"Kendra's husband is taking their two boys away for Christmas.  With his parents.  And Kendra is NOT invited."
Tom almost fell over.
"What?  You mean to tell me that Kendra's husband is going to abandon her for the holidays? And take away her two kids?  Right after she gives birth and gives away her little girl for adoption?"
"Yes, it's horrible, I know."
"Well, that right there...see...that right there...," Tom could hardly speak, he was so indignant.  "She's giving up a baby and he's going to leave her in the aftermath?  And that's how he plans to reconcile the marriage?"
"It's horrible, I know," I repeated.  
"I don't like this at all," Tom said.  "If that's the case, how can we really be sure that Kendra is sure?  I mean, she is getting abandoned at Christmas!  He's punishing her!"
"You're right."
"We have to talk to them in the hospital.  Forget Shelley and Paula."
"Definitely," I agreed.  "There's no way we're taking this baby home unless we're certain that this is really what Kendra wants."
And that's how Tom and I settled on our own version of a birth plan.


Myst said...

""Definitely," I agreed. "There's no way we're taking this baby home unless we're certain that this is really what Kendra wants.""

- (sob) Dear God I sooo wish my daughter's adopters had been like you... even though I was telling them straight I didn't want to place her, that I wanted to parent, they kept pushing. And saying things like I was their only chance. And then the false promise to get me to sign for a trial period. These words hurt (for me) to read because you are just so different to so many others I have met online and in real life... wow.

Also wanted to say your write so beautifully and eloquently.

Jennifer said...

I have read your heartbreaking story and so many others now too. Before I started this blog, I had no idea what was going on in the world of adoption. I thought our experience was unique. I was so naive. I am so so sorry for your loss and what you have been through. It is unfathomable.
Because everything that happened with Baby Lily was so abrupt, I am coming to understand things only as I write the blog. I am also in therapy now. It was impossible to process everything as it was happening. It was craziness. And if I feel that way, I can only imagine what it would be like for a woman in a crisis pregnancy situation.
Obviously, it's too much to explain briefly--which is why I started the blog in the first place. But I am pretty sure I will be reaching out to you and others when I get to certain parts of the story. I might need your advice.
The irony here is that while you are wishing that the adoptive parents were like us, I am wishing that I had contact with this community during everything.
I have to agree that some of the adoptive parents or prospective adoptive parents online are pretty hard to take. I read one blog, where a PAP was expressing such anger over a BM who chose to parent. And it was so hateful. I just could not relate. If someone is claiming to love a child, how can they disregard that child's very creator of life? I just don't get it. And I cannot understand the laws that do not allow a birth mother to change her mind after the hospital.
The good news is that there are some pro-reform adoptive parents out there. I think Cassi has some good ones on her blog roll.
I would never try to adopt again. I get that the whole issue of adoption is not so black & white--and that there might be babies who need homes--but I am totally converted to the positions outlined over at First Mother Forum, etc.
As I write this and try to find meaning in what happened, I hope to alert people to the unethical stuff going on in adoption. I don't think people know. I didn't. Before this experience, I thought adoption was this great thing to do. I didn't know anything about the behind the scenes practices.
I still worry about "Kendra." I read a post over at First Mother Forum about what is okay to write about (in adoption), and now I'm worried about even writing this blog! I think I need to tell my story, but is it a violation to Kendra? I've changed names, but I worry about that too.
I guess I still have a lot to figure out too.
All the best,

Myst said...

Don't really know where to start... :)

Thank you for taking the time to rad the blogs by others, for reading my story. Like you, I am sharing more than just my story and you know, anyone who writes shares part of someone else's life - its just what we do... we can't avoid it as we are interacting with others who contribute to our story.

I see you are telling your story - but to every story there are players. You are telling this from your persepctive which makes it yours to tell.

I too wish I had found this community 14 or even 15 years ago - but the internet wasn't even big on this side of the world. Within two years much had changed and I started to find people who thought like I did and I discovered a whole world who experienced similar things... two years too late...

I am glad you have found us. And yes, feel free to reach out. Although unsure of the circumstances, I am sure what happened was still painful for you guys. I am sorry you all had to go through this.

"If someone is claiming to love a child, how can they disregard that child's very creator of life?"

This, this is it in essence! I even asked my daughter's adopters this while we were going through the court battles. They had no response and their actions have always shown me it was about them, not her... and sadly I have seen many more like them since. There are ethical adoptive parents out there, sure, but they are few.

Anyway, I am almost writing a novel, sorry!! Thank you again... and I will be reading!!!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. My tendency to doubt my "right" to my own voice predates this adoption experience. I'm getting braver each day. Thanks for reminding me that my story is indeed my story :)

Amanda said...

I feel somewhat surprised at the level of control your social worker seems to have (is she a Social Worker, Social Worker or an adoption worker without a formal social work education?). Granted, I have not graduated from Social Work school yet and have never worked in adoption. However, when working out intervention plans, it is not we who make the decisions for our clients. Our clients need to be enoucraged to make the best decisions for themselves that they feel is the best or whatever they are most dedicated to. Paula may feel like she knows best but her job is to empower you and Kendra, not tell you what to do. It's the Interactional model vs the Medical model.

I admire you for wanting to work this out with the proscpective surrendering mother and hear from her what it is that she wants. You are a smart lady.

Jennifer said...

I believe she is an LCSW which would require her to have her MSW degree. I actually was a practicing LCSW, but stopped working many years ago to be home with my kids. I never worked in the area of adoption.
Yes, the social work model is theoretically supposed to be one of empowerment for clients. Of course, certain models of crisis intervention prescribe greater power to the worker; but this would depend on what we define as a "crisis," the client's mental status, etc.
It's interesting that you picked up immediately on the power differential here--not only for Kendra, but for me too. I definitely felt powerless over many many aspects of this adoption process and I attribute that to the following factors:
1) I disliked the attorney immediately--almost backed out from the very beginning b/c of her--so when the social worker showed up, I kind of blindly trusted her--because I am a social worker too. Of course, I know there are lots of really incompetent people in the helping professions, but I felt comfortable with her initially, so I never challenged her. I did challenge the attorney. Often.
2) The time factor was just so insane. I don't know if you read from the beginning, but this adoption came out of nowhere. It was something we always talked about doing (mostly bc my best friend is an adoptee), but I wasn't even signed up to adopt. I hadn't done any research yet. I didn't know anything about the process at all. I would typically never do something like that--withou researching a TON--but when the opportunity appeared--we were told it might never appear again. We became aware of the baby approx. 2 weeks prior to her birth. It was too fast for even a dozen Einsteins to process. I simply couldn't integrate/process everything given the pressure we were under.
3. I was so worried about everyone else, particularly Kendra and her boys, that I didn't really allow myself to process my own feelings. I believe the social worker/attorney may have exploited me in some ways--I haven't arrived at those parts yet in the story--but you will see that I was both coached and coerced in this adoption process.
4. I only realized, quite recently, realized that this process triggered some of my own PTSD issues (unrelated to adoption). Adoption is linked with trauma and some of the circumstances surrounding this adoption were terrifying for me. The social worker took a personal history--now that I think about it--I'm surprised she did not try to explore that with me during the home study. Ultimately, I think the attorney was truly a horror. I'm still unsure on the social worker--I don't think she was inherently evil, but I think she has just normed into an already dysfunctional adoption system and just does her job without really questioning things, you know? In fairness to her, the attorney had her under enormous pressure as well & as a clinician (and human being), she probably didn't have the time to reflect on her clinical practice here either. She several times validated my concerns about the attorney, but at the same time assured me that everything would be handled ethically b/c she would make sure of it. I trusted her.
I myself can't even understand it all yet--it's very complex and writing this blog is helping me to even remember details that I totally forgot. It was just all too much.
If I had been in therapy at the time, I sincerely doubt this would ever have moved past the initial meeting with the attorney. I would have trusted my gut, I think, if I had reviewed that initial meeting with a therapist whom I highly regard.

Jennifer said...

One more thing...and this is beyond the scope of adoption...there really are so many clinicians out there who just have no self awareness, act out on clients, etc. I hate to sound pessimistic, but just bc a person has a clinical degree/license...well, it doesn't necessarily add up to a gifted therapist and is often quite the opposite. People in graduate school are forced to observe their practice via process recordings and supervision. But a few years out, a lot of workers lose touch with that very important aspect of the work.
I've read some of your blog of course, and you sound like you will make an excellent clinician. Also, just from your blog alone, I can see that you have the potential to impact people in a broad, systemic way. You will likely do great things with your career! Best of luck :)
Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

Amanda said...

Oh wow! I had no idea that you are a Social Worker; you know way more about this then I do then. I will have to pick your brain about different things one of these days. I feel sorry for all of the SW'ers who follow my blog; I am always bombarding them with questions lol.

Yes, you are right. I felt as though she was almost holding power over you in some way even though you're clearly able to make your own decisions and heck, even talk with her on a level playing field as far as the planning process goes with a similar educational background. I hate being bossed around; I was probably projecting that onto her lol.

Interesting comment about self-awareness. It didn't occur to me at first that might be the issue but I absolutely see your point. I have to do three semesters of internships, weekly journals and supervision agendas throughout, several introspective papers, and six process recordings before I graduate. I seriously gripe almost every day about all this stuff at this point but I see that the self-awareness that comes from it is really so important. I will be tired and very sleepy...but self-aware :-)

Thank you for your kind words.

I will eventually finish my reply to you on my blog post :-D

Jennifer said...

Last I checked--looks like the anonymous world is answering my question for you! Both in content and in form!
Well, I definitely did surrender my better judgment to the social worker at times. I believe the dynamic between her and I was mutually constructed and unconscious. At least,I'd like to think that. I really would like to think that she was acting in what she thought was everyone's best interest. Otherwise, then she was even worse than the attorney--who was so transparent!
There is so much transference and ambiguity in everything--adoption trumps most stuff though. Are you planning to work in this area specifically?
Oh and the great thing about all those process recordings--makes one better at remembering conversation when writing one's Blog-Memoir!

Amanda said...

I am not planning on working in adoption. I feel like there would be too much transference and counter transference. Reading about the adoption process alone is hard for me (for some reason your blog is an exception to that); it would be too hard, I think, to be involved in it in person. I am interested in adoption-related and child welfare work only at the macro level in policy reform.

My ultimate goal is to be a therapist. I am interested in geriatric Social Work and I also really like work that provides concrete services. I also like clinical work and really like hospital settings.

Yes, the anon (the anon posts arguing with me are being made by just one person. The anon posts that didn't use any initials or nicknames are all the same individual posting) and I gave a great example as to how some adoptees will discredit and discriminate against each other. There anon and I argue about just how bad stereotypes really are or aren't, whether or not laws are "discriminatory" or just "inconvenient," and then of course there is the battle of differing perceptions. And it is all completely couched in privilege because neither of us is still waiting to reunite. Neither of us is pending deportation as some adoptees are. Neither of us is kept from international travel or driving because of OBC issues. It's easy to bicker from a comfy place on the couch while real adoptees, real people, are out there struggling. It's something the entire adoptee community needs to keep reminding themselves. It's not just about me...it's about us all.

You are awesome :-)

Carlynne Hershberger, CPSA said...

Like Myst said, I wish my daughter's adopters had been like you. I didn't meet her amom until I reunited with my daughter. I do have to say that at first she was wonderful - she wanted us to reunite, she was excited for us, before we met she mailed over 100 photos of my daughter covering the 22 years that I missed. All that was great until she said to me - "you should be thankful you didn't have to raise her, she was difficult"

My heart dropped. How do you respond to something like that? Of course I thought of a million things to say, long after the fact. In the moment I was in shock and couldn't say anything to her. Since then when I've visited (they live in a different state) I see how they interact and it infuriates me to see how she treats my daughter - the way that she talks down to her, treats her like a child, complains about her in front of me.

Anyway, the point was, I'm thankful there are people out there like you and I hope you continue to tell your story.

Jennifer said...

Amanda & Carlynne--
Thanks for your comments. Each day, I keep learning more and more regarding adoption. In fact, my online communications with you both (and others) are becoming a part of my story. I'm new to blogging, so as a writer, it's such a valuable and transformative experience to process everything in such an interactive manner.
I could really write endlessly in response to each of your last comments here.
Amanda--the topic of transference/countertransference is so enormous and fascinating. I could have a whole correspondence based just on that. Plus--your comment made me start to think/wonder what the implications might be for adult adoptees when they create their own families. Are adult adoptees more/less likely to choose adoption, pregnancy, some combo of both? And how does that impact one's parenting? I know there is no one right answer. My best friend never had an interest in seeking out her bio family until her first child was born. I remember she was awe struck--she kept saying--"this is the first person (her baby) I've ever known who is genetically related to me." She found her birth mother shortly thereafter.
Anyhow--all this--about how being adopted impacts one's own experience of motherhood--is something I was inspired to think about--a thought process that grew out of your discussion on working/not working as a clinician in adoption.
In my own clinical experience, somehow, the very things I tried to avoid seemed to end up there somehow! It's fascinating. And exciting. And terrifying all at the same time.
You too gave me something entirely new to think about--the point of view, years later, having to endure the parenting of this adoptive mom. Wow. But it's so true--I realize now that there is a whole adoption marketing strategy that basically tells women they are showing greater love to a child by placing that child in an adoptive home. But how is anyone to know whether the adoptive parents are even decent people? Obviously, there is good and bad and everything in between in all things human, but that tag line really needs to be abolished. It's just so fraught with assumption and coercion. Maybe whatever was difficult for the adoptive mother of your daughter had to do with the very fact that she was parenting an adopted child. Maybe she had her own issues with that.
Thank you both for inspiring me to think more and more deeply as I process (through writing) my experience with adoption.
Jennifer :)

Carlynne Hershberger, CPSA said...

Jennifer, you're absolutely right. No one knows what kind of people AP's really will be. The home studies and slick brochures aka "birthmother" letters can paint a nice picture but that doesn't show the inner workings of a household. My daughter's AP's divorced when she was only 3 yrs old (sorry if I've already mentioned this). She was taken from me because I was single yet she still ended up being raised by a single mother. I married a year after losing her and have been married for 30 yrs. Ironic?

You mention enduring the parenting of the AP's. In the case of open adoption I wonder about mothers and how they deal with enduring the parenting of their child. I've dealt with it but only since reunion. They're dealing with it from the very beginning. Then I wonder also about how the child views the fact that their natural mother is leaving them behind while they go home and possibly parent their other children. What does that do to the little one's heart? What does it do a child to be told that his mother let him go because she loves him? What kind of love is that and how does that affect the child into adulthood?

Just more things I think about....

Jennifer said...

Interesting note.
Also, if an adoptee is told that his mother gave him away bc she loved him, doesn't that then forever link love with abandonment issues? I am beginning to understand some of my adoptee friend's abandonment issues on a whole new level. And how is a child supposed to integrate an adoptive parent telling him she loves him, when love means relinquishment?
I imagine that all adoptees must suffer some level of disassociation--it's a total brain f$%k--trying to manage all those contradictory messages especially as they pertain to the most primal relationship in life.

Amanda said...


I completely identify with what you said about your friend. Pre-childbirth, I would have chosen to know about my original family if I thought it was possible and if I thought it wouldn't hurt anyone to know or be involved with them. However, I had been under the impression that those two things would be the case: it was impossible to know and would be hurtful to others if I did know. So I brushed it off. I lived happily without my other family and original information until I had a cancer/tumor scare in my early 20's but even that was not enough for me to really put myself out there and investigate how I felt about being adopted or risk upsetting my a-fam by seeking my roots.

It was childbirth that set through my body this inexplicable emotional pain. He was my first genetic relative. Because of me HE didn't know his biological ancestry (half of it) either. How could I do that to him?....wait...how could I do that to me either?! I too was just a baby when I lost my roots--why didn't I deserve to know or deserve at least the chance to know? That bond I felt with my baby--did someone out there feel that for me too? Thinking about a mother out there who was separated from her baby made me feel physically ill after the birth of my first son.

I know now all mothers feel a bond. I know not all mothers want to parent or are in a place to parent, even in some cases if they could be given financial support, and that adoption is needed. But the topic is so close to home for me right now. The birth of my children made my experience as an infant incredibly and painfully real to me.

Transference/countertransference is a huge, huge thing, indeed. Self-disclosure would also be a huge ethical dilemma for me because I can't decide if it would help or hurt the helping process when adoption/child welfare is involved.

I could write to you about this for hours lol.

Amanda said...

"Also, if an adoptee is told that his mother gave him away bc she loved him, doesn't that then forever link love with abandonment issues?"

Yes. Some adoptees will say they never experienced or struggled with paradoxes growing up. But I did. Many adoptees did/do. There are a million and one adoption paradoxes.

"She loved you so much she gave you away" becomes problematic when it's a story continued into the later stages of childhood when a child's intellectual reasoning strengthens and the work out their own desires for friendship and relationships where love means they want to be close to someone--not far away.

Loving = leaving is one issue. Poverty = leaving is another. When I was little, we went through a rough patch financially where my dad had to move away for several months to find work leaving my mom and I in our apartment we could scarcely afford to heat. I remember worrying in the back of my mind that I might have to be adopted again to have a "better life." I didn't want a better life; I wanted my mom and dad.

I held onto the crappiest relationships growing up just because the feeling of being left was so awful. Before we got married, I remember snapping at my husband one day "stop telling me you love me. Just tell me you won't leave." He looked at me like I had two heads. I look back and feel so sorry for him and thankful he stuck with me in our early years. I did not resolve the issues I had with losing people in my life or being rejected until I started exploring my feelings on adoption in adulthood.

Jennifer said...

I am thinking about so much right now...
The part you mention about self-disclosure--I too struggled with self-disclosure in my own clinical practice and also as a client. As a consumer of therapy, I am the first to run for my life if a clinician self-discloses too much. The first supervisor I had, basically advised against self-disclosure as a beginning practitioner. I am glad she did. Of course, there are people who argue the exact opposite--that everything is up for processing, etc. etc.
My personal opinion, (at least at this time until i decide otherwise!)--is that a lot of people who are seeking therapy have suffered role reversals, boundary violations, etc. etc. in their primary relationships, so I think self-disclosure is a really tricky thing to use well.
I wonder--are you drawn toward any particular analytic styles? There has been a huge movement in the last couple of decades away from drive-centered theories and toward a relational approach (where therapists are trained to view the therapeutic dyad as something that is mutually constructed--and therefore, is not just the projections of client pathology). From your comments & blog posts--I feel like it would be a good match with your cognitive style.
Also--I can relate to the early marital years. I went through my phase of feeling bad for my husband--until I realized that my issues fit some of his needs to rescue, be "good," etc.
Well...I too could go on and on!
If you don't mind me asking (I don't know if you reveal your location on your blog), where are you going for your BSW? Will you continue for the MSW at the same place?
Jennifer :)

Amanda said...

Hi Jennifer,

I might not be understanding what you mean but I think my analytic style would be more in line with an Integrative Psychotherapy? Because what I learn is strictly generalist practice, it is all separated out into different elements rather than one theraputic approach. We learn most of the major psych/behavior theories (Jung, Erikson, Marica, Levinson etc.). We also learn about other theories and perspectives such as Ecological Perspective, Systems Theory, Family Systems (Bowen), Oppression Identity Model, White Identity Model, Black Identity Model, Cross Cultural Identity Model, Resiliency Theory, Cultural Competence Model (etc.), and then we learn various assessment and generalist practice models like Interactional Model, Relational Model (Groups), Boston Model (Power/Control in Groups), Strengths Perspective, Intersectionality Model, Bio-psycho-social-spiritual-cultural assessment model, the GIM model (so on and so forth)....

Then they say, go forth! There are your tools. Do your thing! Apply all this to real life! lol

I like everything I have learned. And I think your assessment of my style is dead-on. I really like the Psychoanalytic approach (Jung is my favorite theorist, second to Erikson, and no matter how much I read I feel like I don't know a thing about him) but sometimes it doesn't seem practical when clients could be helped more quickly and easily with a CBT approach. But CBT has it's own downfalls; I have observed some therapists with CBT styles who, isntead of challenging and replacing thoughts, just made the client feel like crap for the thoughts they had. I really like letting clients direct their own intervention and helping process by simply probing a bit because I do believe deep down inside most people know the right answers. However, as you said in our previous power and control conversation, some clients simply need more intervention and direction than that.

So an integrated bag of approaches is definitely something I feel like I should be using. I definitely feel that the helping situation is unique between each client and each practitioner and not just the client's projections.

I think there was something about me my husband needed too :-) We have balanced each other with our own extremes in a way that is (usually) healthy. He is laid back and sometimes lacks a sense of urgency to do things he should be doing. I, on the other hand, am completely task-oriented and a stickler for getting stuff done (and worrying). I use him as a model for how to react in times of stress. He looks to me on how to react when it's time to take action.

I am at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. I would like to go to Colombia or University of Pennsylvania for my MSW because at WCU, the only thing I can specialize in is generalist practice. It's an excellent program but it's all they offer. I can't afford Colombia or Penn (the classes or traveling there) so I will probably stay at WCU.

Jennifer said...


First--pertaining to graduate school--my opinion is that the core of the learning comes from the field placement and the supervisor. My first year supervisor was amazing. By second year, the supervisor I had was terrible. Not bright at all--a total disaster. I had to fight for a change. Of course, being a social work school--they want to try and mediate and work everything out. But bottom line...I was paying thousands of dollars for a supervisor who was of limited ability, acted out all over the place (on other workers, etc), and even the agency itself did not have enough clients for the large number of interns that they took in. It was a sorry disappointment--especially after having such strong supervision in my first placement. I thankfully got to switch elsewhere.
Anyhow--back in those days, Columbia did not allow field placement changes (I went there for a post bac just before starting the MSW and had been warned about this). Great reputation, but if you ended up in a bad spot--you'd be stuck.
I ended up at Fordham--it was actually the only program I even applied too--and it, like anything else, had its pros and cons.
Could go on and on!
Bottom line: I would do whatever makes the most sense financially and logistically for you. You will get what you need out of a generalist education (all the programs are really offering the same--no one is an expert in anything yet when they first emerge with the MSW!)!

Jennifer said...

As for the relational perspective--check out the work of Stephen Mitchell and his peers. While it's beneficial to have the tools from an eclectic approach (I totally agree), I think the contemporary relational people have the best grasp on the therapeutic relationship as a means for change. As for CBT, totally true that some diagnoses absolutely require that form of treatment. We are an OCD household over here. No analytic work is going to help the OCD--ERP is only type of beneficial therapy IMHO. That being said, I agree with what you said about the CBT therapist's impact on the person still (outside of the CBT). I've met some really strict CBT people who are so aligned with their modality--they completely forget that the CBT itself is still administered in the context of a human relationship!

Jennifer said...

One more thing! I totally became obsessed with Jung while watching back-to-back seasons of Lost!

Amanda said...


Thanks for the advice, I feel better now about staying at WCU. Especially because it is the most affordable.

My senior/foundational year internship is a year long. I am nervous about it because they're not easy to switch if they're not working out. I have to do a 30 page integrative paper based on that internship, multiple process recordings, and a presentation in front of all of the Social Work faculty on it all, so it is really important for the placement to be ideal to accomplish all of these requirements. I got really lucky the internship that I did this past semester. My field instructor was a.m.a.z.i.n.g!

I will definitely check out Stephen Mitchell! Thanks!

Could I email you some time? I promise to only harass you occasionally :-) my email is declassifiedadoptee@gmail.com if you are OK with sending me your email address. I also have an a-mom friend or two I think you might love that I could connect you with.

Jennifer said...

sending you an email in a few!