We want to bring you, our readers, into the day-to-day of our agency by sharing more about the people you get to work with through each phase of the process! In honor of National Adoption Month, we will be featuring two of our wonderful staff members. This week we’re featuring Jennifer Van Gundy, our Director of Social Services who has been with American Adoptions for 10 years and is an adoptee herself. Read on to learn more about her job at American Adoptions!
What is your name and position?
Jennifer Van Gundy, Director of Social Services
How long have you been working for American Adoptions?
10 years! Since April 2005
What are your tasks at American Adoptions?
I supervise the team of adoption specialists that provide support to potential birth mothers as they contact American Adoptions for services. I assist the adoption specialist to set up connections between pregnant women and potential adoptive couples as well as help figure out logistics. I also manage the team of adoption specialist that complete home study and post placement services out in the field, as well as approve all home studies and post placements completed in several states that American Adoptions is licensed in.
What does a typical work day look like?
My typical day involves lots of people in and out of my office. We often joke that my office is the most happening place as there is always someone asking a questions and trying to make a plan for clients. I do spend time working on projects, reviewing documents and also reaching out to vendors to figure out tricky situations.
How has adoption impacted your life personally?
I was adopted as an infant. My adoption story is much different than the current stories many children have who are placed with a family through American Adoptions. It was a very different time in the adoption world when I was placed with my family. My birth mother worked with an agency along with the support of her family. She made a very hard decision and I am so thankful she was able to think of what would be best for me as I grew up. She was younger and was no longer in a relationship with my birth father. She wanted me to have a stable two parent family that could provide all the extras she could not. My parents share the story with me how they got a call one evening that they could come pick me up the next day!!! They were so excited and quickly prepared to meet me. Unfortunately my parents were not able to meet my birth mother. Adoption was different during that time. I am lucky that my birth mother provided a letter to me, I cherish this letter and all the great information she was able to share.
My parents have been wonderful! I have always felt like they loved me and they provided me with so many opportunities. I choose to work in the field of adoption so I could be a part of helping another little one find a forever family. I am so thankful that adoption has given me so much and I love watching adoption affect so many people through my career.
What is your favorite part of working for American Adoptions?
My favorite part is supporting the adoptions specialists that work at American Adoptions. Each of the adoption specialists gives so much of themselves to this job. They all work 24/7 as needed and often times put their clients’ needs above their own even on nights and weekends. I love being able to encourage this amazing group of social workers, counselors and therapists as they provide support to clients. It is fun to see each of them have pride in their jobs and personally care for every family they help create!
What is your favorite time of year at American Adoptions?
Luckily all year long we get updates from families about how well they are doing and updates about how much their little ones have grown. I also love the beginning of the year as we have lots of new families starting off the New Year with a goal to build a family through adoption!
Do you have any favorite adoption memories?
One of my favorite moments was being involved with an adoption that involved a special little one. A baby was born with a heart condition and needed open heart surgery immediately after birth. It was so awesome to help find a family that embraced the baby even with a very serious heart condition. Several years later that baby is doing great and has a wonderful family. The birth mother also has so much peace that she was able to find a great family to raise her baby. It was an awesome experience helping that baby find an amazing family and providing comfort to a very courageous young woman.
How many adoptions have you been a part of?
Hundreds. When I initially started at American Adoptions I was a birth parent specialist providing support to pregnant women. I continued my career as an adoptive family specialist which allowed me to provide support to adoptive parents as they joined the agency, waited to be selected and then went through the process of being connected with a birth mother and receiving placement. For the past several years I have been a supervisor which allows me to be a part of almost every adoption completed by the agency. I love it!