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!
As an Adoptive Family Specialist, Dacia works closely with people looking to begin or expand their family through adoption. She is there to inform and counsel prospective families through every step of their journey; she has been extensively involved in the work that American Adoptions does, and her knowledge and support help families have a positive and fulfilling adoption experience. Keep reading to learn more about Dacia and the life of an Adoptive Family Specialist!
What is your name and position?
I am Dacia Peterson, and I am an Adoptive Family Specialist.
How long have you been working for American Adoptions?
I don’t know exactly. I started off doing contract work for home studies and post-placements. I had been doing that for several years, and then I filled in part-time doing birth mom callbacks. Then I moved into a full-time position as the post-placement coordinator, and I only did that for maybe a month or two. Then I moved into the Adoptive Family Specialist role, and I’ve been doing this for almost a year.
How did you education/work background lead you to working in adoption?
I switched from psychology to social work in college. I always knew I wanted to work with people, especially with children. Out of school, I did foster care and adoption work for many years, and then I transferred over to an adoption agency that worked with mostly foster kids, and then I took the newborn route at American Adoptions.
What are your tasks at American Adoptions?
My role is to help provide support and education for adoptive families going through this process. With that, there’s lots of information with adoption, and it can be a little overwhelming for families. We get them prepared for each new step along the way. Our role comes in first with reviewing the APQ (Adoption Planning Questionnaire), and then once they go active, I become the main point of contact for them. I provide support and guidance throughout the adoption opportunity, the first conference call, the hospital plan, and placement.
What does a typical work day look like?
We are returning a lot of emails. Some families do call just to check in, and then there are APQ review calls, adoption opportunity calls, hospital preparation calls. Then, if a family has been waiting six months or a year, we try to schedule a call with them, see how they’re doing, and maybe review their APQ again.
What is your favorite part about working at American Adoptions?
As far as the company goes, I love the support that we get here. There’s always somebody that is happy to sit down and help you work through a tough situation or just provide support. I love everybody I work with. As far as my role goes, I just really enjoy working with the families and getting to be part of that adoption journey with them. Most of them have had such a long road to get to this point, and even though there are a lot of hard times, I love being there to see it through to the end and watch them get their baby.
What is one of your favorite memories of working with American Adoptions?
I’ve got a lot of families that are just good memories. I had a family that had a really rocky road through everything, but I got really close with them during that time. Being able to share in that excitement with them in the end was neat. And there have been some situations where I’ve been able to observe the family and the birth mom develop a great relationship that they didn’t expect. That’s always really neat to see.
How has adoption impacted you personally?
I don’t have any adoption in my family, but I’ve always worked in adoption and foster care. I’ve been in the field for over 10 years, so it’s just become a part of my life. I was talking with another family specialist one day, and we were talking about how I have a 2-and a half year old, and how our young kids already know the word “adoption.”
How many adoptions have you been a part of?
When I did home study and post placement stuff, I got to do a lot. In this position, I think it might be 34.
What advice would you want to give to families considering adoption?
Do a lot of research—about adoption and everything that goes with that, but also agencies and what would be the best fit for their family. It’s important that families trust the agency they are working with. There is so much in the process that is out of their control, and that’s a very hard thing for a lot of families. The more comfort and trust they have in us, the easier that can be for them.
What’s one thing about adoption that you didn’t know before working for American Adoptions?
There’s so much that you learn—I’m still learning. I think after switching over from the foster care side to here, I’ve learned a lot more about the birth parents’ side of things. I’ve learned how this process is for them and what they need during that time. When you don’t have the birth parents involved, you don’t consider that as much.