Hello MLJ families! As some of you know, my name is Katelyn Smith and I have recently joined the staff here at MLJ Adoptions. I was previously working as an intern with the Bulgaria and Ukraine programs. I had the privilege of working under Lydia Tarr, who recently stepped down to pursue her career in Interior Design. She was a fantastic mentor and has given me so much wisdom and training during my time here. She educated me on the process of international adoption and how to work with families during their adoption journeys. I have begun the new role as the Bulgaria Program Manager and feel honored to be able to assist families as they pursue international adoption to bring home their child.
A little about my background before I interned for MLJ. I received my undergraduate degree in General Studies from Ball State University in 2014 and went on to pursue my master’s degree in social work from Indiana University-Purdue University, in Indianapolis. Through this graduate program I was able to participate in varying aspects of social work through volunteer work and two internships. I volunteered with St. Elizabeth Coleman: Pregnancy and Adoption Services. They are an organization offering services to birth mothers, single mothers, adoptive parents, and adoptees. They also provide temporary housing for birth mothers in need of assistance that allow them support while they are getting back on their feet. They accept donations of necessary items such as clothes, bottles, breast pumps, car seats, cribs, and toys. They are a great resource for families in the Indianapolis area and I enjoyed my time volunteering with them!
My first internship was with Catholic Charities of Indianapolis: Refugee and Resettlement Program. They helped resettled refugees in the Indianapolis area from varying countries such as Syria, Burma, Somalia, Eritrea, and Democratic Republic of Congo. I interned as a Case Manager for families with extensive needs. A family with extensive needs can include a multitude of needs such as large number of family members, medical needs, therapy, and continued employment and transportation needs. I met with families in their homes, provided assistance with social services and therapies such as art and music therapy to help families cope with trauma they had experienced. Even after living through dire conditions and being separated from family members, they generously welcomed me into their home. I have seen the result of the devastation that they have lived through and the lasting effect it has on them mentally, emotionally, and physically. Adults and children, malnourished and leaving them looking emaciated even after being in the United States for months. Doing this work, I grew not only as a social worker, but as a person and what it really means to show compassion and to love others well.
Since graduating with my master’s in social work and beginning my new career, I have been moving full steam ahead. My next steps are to master the Bulgaria adoption program and international adoption, while also preparing to take my licensure exam. In this new position, my hope is to serve the children and families as best as I can and to gain the endless knowledge that the world of adoption provides.
Thank you to all of you for your warm welcome and I truly look forward to working with you on your adoption process!