When I was an undergraduate social work student, I found myself making a daily pass by a certain poster in the department lounge area. The 9x12 sheet listed dozens of fields that employ social workers, such as "mental health" and "juvenile probation" and "substance abuse" in various fonts and sizes. Upon close inspection, "adoption work" appeared near microscopically at the very bottom, perhaps indicative of how the profession views its overall presence within the adoption institution. Although a great number of adoption workers are also social workers, most social workers are not adoption workers. However, "adoption work" remains one of our profession's most iconic, if not stereotypical, areas of practice.
I am new to social work, but not new to serving people. 2.5 years ago, I attained the credentials to be a "social worker" in accordance with state law and CSWE standards, but have worked in human services fields for over 10 years. I am newer to working with a focus on adoption, but am not new to adoption itself. I have been writing, speaking, educating, and testifying on adoption issues for almost 7 years, but have lived the adoption experience for over 30 years. My current work focuses on family preservation--including serving families of all compositions, placement stability support for foster youth, and post-adoption support for adoptees and their various family members.
As National Adoption Month sparks discussion in social work spaces about what "adoption work" is, I feel compelled to add to that dialogue with my "social worker" hat on, and with the reinforcement that comes from a lived adoption experience as a member of the adoption community.