Being a social worker, I have always been drawn to advocating for the rights of vulnerable populations, the populations that cannot speak up or fight for themselves, specifically children. As a child, one has to rely solely on others for love, protection and for their needs to be met and this makes them one of the most vulnerable populations. Children without parents are particularly vulnerable and intercountry adoption offers a child in need a forever family to love and care for the child. I am passionate about international adoption because it offers hope to children who otherwise have no other options.
Worldwide, there are over 140 million orphans without a family to care for them. Without international adoption, orphaned children are likely to lead a life of crime, substance abuse, prostitution, become victims of human trafficking, and also have a high rate of suicide. International adoption provides so many opportunities for children. Among these various opportunities includes basic needs such as being loved and nurtured, building attachment, being part of a family, appropriate health care and preventative medical attention, healthy relationships, education, and so much more. International adoption creates a way for these children to thrive and develop into healthy adolescents and adults who can contribute to society in positive ways.
As a child, many, including myself, are fortunate enough to have parents and a family that loved, cared for, protected, and educated them. We had the chance to be kids, to freely learn, explore, and play. We didn’t worry about adult decisions like caring for our younger siblings, making sure we were safe, or had enough food because we had parents to do that on our behalf. To no fault of their own, these children don’t have families, but they are desperately in need of one. Every child deserves to be loved, nurtured, to learn and be protected. Without international adoption, many of these children would never have that opportunity.
Becoming an intern with MLJ has provided many opportunities for me to do what I love, play a part in what I’m passionate about, serve others, and most importantly watch children find their forever families. In the past four months, I have already seen so much happen in the lives of our families and children. We have had families bring home their children, travel for the first time to meet them, and made the initial decision that adoption was the path for them to take in order to grow their family and make a difference in the life of a child. Not only has this agency taught me about international adoption and vulnerable children, but the families that we serve have taught me what it means to care for another, to put someone else’s needs before my own, and how to be completely selfless. If I learn nothing else from this internship, though I know I will, that alone would be enough. They make me a better person by knowing and serving them and their children.
Katelyn Smith is a year-long intern with MLJ Adoptions as she pursues her Master’s of Social Work through IUPUI. Upon graduation, she desires to work with vulnerable children and families.