Melanie Chung-Sherman

What motivates your interest in working in foster care and adoption?

Starting in 1999, I have had the tremendous opportunity to work in child protective services as an investigator, public and private foster care, private, infant adoption, international adoption, kinship and step-parent adoption, and now as a licensed clinician specializing in post-adoption services. Naively, I entered the field filled with ego consisting of what I could bring, wisdom I could impart as an adoptee, and believing I could change an entire field. Years (and a multitude of rough learning curves later), it is the clients willing to share their deepest fears, sorrows, losses, and hopes that have humbled me in profound ways. Work in this field long enough and you will encounter moments in adoption and foster care that will bring you to your knees, but what continually keeps me coming back is the courage and self-determination that each client possesses. There is a hope that with each individual or system that I have had the privilege to work alongside that something greater than ourselves was left behind.

If you could change one thing about the practice of adoption/people’s attitudes toward adoption, what would it be?

There is a seduction to view adoption and foster care in binary terms as either good or bad, but that fallacy trap is dangerous because nothing in life is so concrete. There is enough room for a multitude of feelings and perspectives that will evolve over time. The ability to sit within the tension of those emotional and conflictual intersections is what creates change and insight. For fellow triad members who enter this field, it is critically important that we remain self-aware and accountable to continually do our personal work so that we can robustly engage each system free of our known and unknown agendas so that our work is transparent, ethical and grounded — so when those intersections collide, we can stand interdependently of each situation to create solution.

How do post-adoption services fit into your work to improve the adoption and foster care system?

Post-adoption (a passion of mine) is an extension of the act of adoption and is equally important within the entire schema of adoption and foster care. It is neither pre or post, but a fluid and ever-changing spectrum of experiences throughout the lifespan and intergenerationally. It is a specialized application that combines lived experience, research, best practice considerations, clinical acumen, policy and flexibility of adaptation to each situation.

In your opinion, why are post-adoption services important to building strong families?

Building stronger families also means long-term investment and commitment within our shared community to provide services throughout the life of a client that extends beyond placement. There is an ethical and moral obligation for those involved within this field to ensure that longitudinal services for all triad members are accessible, reputable and competent. Among professionals — particularly adopted people and first parents — who have worked hard to legitimately gain a foothold in this field, there is a need to share our knowledge, advocate and educate the next generation — as much as there is a need to thank those who came before us and carve out a place at the table. And I am thankful for every person and opportunity that has led me to this place today and tomorrow.

 

Melanie Chung-Sherman can be reached by phone at 972-998-6139 or email at counsel@mcscounsel.com. Check out her new website.