Choice-noun.. /CHois-/an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.
Daily, people have to make tough decisions that will dictate the rest of their day; and in some cases, the rest of their life. Choice. Many, rely on their “gut instincts” to come up with a decision. You often hear people say “I hope you make the right choice.” Who is to say what is the right… choice. That’s how I felt when I had my career in Child Welfare. I held different job titles in the occupation, but the denominator in my daily tasks were: choice.
My longest title I held in child welfare was in Adoption. If you like children, I do not suggest this career choice for you: I earned a living following Federal and State rules; under the microscope of Administration; sometimes looking out for the best interest of the Agency as well as the child; dealing with uptight attorneys who often wanted to set a precedent with their political views at the wrong time; and the toughest of all, retaining dignity and self-respect as you face scrutiny, ridicule and resentment from family members, the media, Judges and the Community. Choice. Instead of being the Case Manager, I should of been called the Choice Manager. My role was simple, yet complicated: ensure that a child that is in foster care is adopted to a suitable family. That was the simple part. It became complicated when you as the Choice Manager, had to use your professional opinion to achieve the goal. Remaining objective often was challenging. As I think about it, now that I stepped down from that role, I can see a different side; from subjective end. I recently watched the dramatic movie Losing Isaiah which tells the story about a crack-addicted african-american child who was illegally adopted by an affluent upper class caucasian family. The birth mother did not formally sign over her parental rights, and the case was taken to trial. The Judge made the decision to return the child to the natural mother; deeming that children should have the chance to be raised by their birth parents/family members. Of course race, class and economic status were the factors that each party argued. What it the right choice? I’ve watched that movie dozens of times. However, since I no longer hold that position of constantly watching with child welfare eyes, I was able to look at the movie with a different pair of glasses. The numbness that I have been accustomed to for almost a decade immediately crumbled. Tears flowed with ease as I watched both families struggle to love a child. I was finally allowed to feel; and it was a bittersweet moment. Then I started thinking about all the choices I had to make in my career. I personally choose specific families to be forever-parents to foster children. I interviewed them face-to-face, ask them personal questions, as if they were applying for a bank loan to buy a home. I saw the fear in their eyes, I noticed the perfect fronts they put on for me. They wanted to be the chosen one. I had to make the right choice. When a mother and father conceive a child, that child doesn’t get to choose their parents. Those parents don’t get to choose their offspring. But I as Choice Manager, played an instrumental role in creating family units. For the rest of their lives, their own choices would be stemmed from the foundation of MY choice. When I received the heart felt cards stating how much of an impact I had on their family after a successful adoption, I would smile at the jester and move on. Never would I treat it as nothing important, but unfortunately my heart would not allow me to feel the gratitude. Today, while having a moment of refection of the lives I’ve changes, I can say that I have made some of the most critical and live-changing choices of my life. I still humble myself when I say that I created these life-changing choices. I don’t want to take the credit of a system that often times works. But I will say that it has been a true blessing to know that the possibilities that I was faced with professionally, were successful to someone personally.