The Madison team has flown formidable seas to China, tackled terraces of the Philippines, even met the mountains of Haiti, all in the name of family. But no greater risk have they seized, than adopting yours truly into their family as their newest caseworker. Diana saw an aging out girl whose talents and gifts could be used and treasured in this field. She sought me out, looked beyond my inexperience, and asked me to come on board. For that I am forever thankful.

My first days were comparable to arriving in a foreign country. New names and faces, language and terms I didn’t understand, the pace was so fast my head was spinning, jetlagged. It was culture shock. I would think to myself œWill I ever get the hang of this? When will I be like the rest of the caseworkers? Am I really accepted? I felt homesick. But each day, each aspect became more familiar. Every morning I was greeted with encouragement, hand holding, patience, and heartfelt laughs. I was beginning to feel at home.

I speak to you now almost 8 months into my new placement. The good days far outweigh my off days. I still have my moments. Some days I have to refer to my notes, I get caught off guard on a cold call or two, or the printer beeps at me instead of printing packets I need. But I feel like this new family accepts me and walks beside me even on the off days. It means the world to me.

Would you do the same? See a child the way Diana saw me? With patience, willing to see beyond the special need that may require some elbow grease, in hopes that they blossom.

I look forward to getting to know all of you as my extended family.

By Erica Parrish