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Intern Update, Blog #2 (Heather Pate)

Heather Pate, 2L

Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute
Protection of Children
Washington, DC

I am continuing to learn new things every day and am completely inspired by what I am learning. Recently, I had an amazing opportunity to have lunch with a woman from the United Nations committee for Children’s Rights. She is an incredible woman who is passionate about child welfare around the world and knowing how to approach difficult discussions with effective action. Today, I also had the pleasure of meeting the former special advisor for adoption and vulnerable children from the US Agency for International Development. He was so kind and told me how he ended up doing child welfare work, as well as what USAID does for children overseas and families wanting to adopt from overseas. He was gracious to listen to me rave about my parents who moved overseas today to start preparation for their work at an orphanage and as a nurse in the community. The great thing about child welfare is that everyone has a personal story to tell – about how they ended up working where they are – because at some point in each of our lives we have experienced child welfare issues first hand through adoption, foster care, poverty, teaching, etc. Although I am learning an immense amount and loving every moment of it, I am realizing how much I miss working face to face with clients. I miss the personal interactions with those experiencing these issues. I think the legislative process is wonderful and is something I hope to do one day. However, I am getting excited to see what it would look like to be on the front lines of child welfare through organizations like Guardian Ad Litem, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), or state social services. Needless to say, the past few weeks have been wonderful in spite of heavy storms and loss of power for several days. Tomorrow, I will attend meetings with Congressional staff regarding barriers to interstate adoptions from foster care in the United States and how those barriers are keeping children from being adopted. I am excited to attend because I was allowed to set up these meetings for a stakeholder who is coming to DC specifically to meet with Congressional staff. The next few weeks will be incredibly busy as we prepare for our Foster Youth Intern Report and their Congressional briefing!

Next time I would love to share what I am learning about the Indian Nation and Native American child welfare issues. This is a subject I am becoming increasingly aware of and very interested in.

          – Heather Pate, 7/11/12