You Can’t Adopt Inmates?

I mean, obviously you can’t adopt an inmate. You can’t adopt grown-ups. I know about boundaries with my clients, not being “too invested”, having good self-care, blah blah blah. Doesn’t change that every so often there are several inmates that I would gladly take home if I could.

I think movies like The Blind Side make it seem right to take in grownups/or close to being a grown up seem like such a nobel idea. The entire adoption process of children is much more complicated. Once you turn 18 it’s like good luck, try to have a good life with no support system. I see more grown ups that are emotionally stunted because they had horrible childhoods and minimal to no support system.

As a human, you will come in contact with a variety of people who touch your heart in various ways. Some leave lasting impressions. Some you never want to see again. Then, there are some that if it were allowed, I would take home in an instant! I’m pretty vocal at the jail that I want to take some of the inmates home. People joke around with me and ask frequently who I want to bring home today. We laugh it off. I am mostly joking….mostly. I won’t take anyone home. This doesn’t stop me from wanting to.

Part of the reason I became a social worker is because I wanted to fix the world. I want to leave it a better place than I found it. Some of my supervisors over the years have said I have a “bleeding heart” and that my goals are unrealistic. Who cares if they are unrealistic? First, this pisses me off because who the hell is anyone to tell me that wanting to change the world is unrealistic. Change starts with one person, that’s it! I’m not saying that I will save the world, but wanting to save the world, why would anyone try to stop someone from attempting to do so?

Second, when did we all get so comfortable with the bystander effect? I’m a little disgusted that even among other social workers, there is this idea that some of my clients issues aren’t my problem and someone else with deal with them. Who is this magic someone else? Why is there always a someone else to deal with that specific issue? We try to make almost everything someone else’s issue. It’s not our job. It’s not our responsibility. People don’t want to take on other people’s problems. No wonder it is so hard for people to get mental health treatment. They have to go through many people, several agencies, countless pages of paperwork, then wait several weeks to months before even seeing a therapist or prescriber. People we consider high-functioning wouldn’t think this process is acceptable. For someone who is labeled with a mental illness, labeled a criminal, is homeless, whatever; this process becomes incredibly more difficult; if not almost impossible.

No system is perfect. I see countless issues within the system I work and don’t know where to even begin to start a conversation for implementing positive change. People are also uncomfortable with change. Not the point, with a flawed system it makes it seem more realistic in my mind to just take these people home. I know I can’t fix people. I know I’m not this amazing person that brings happiness wherever I go. I do know that change starts with the person who wants to change. But, I do have tools and skills to offer to these people. I do also have a warm heart that can give comfort and empathetic support.

There are things in this world I will never understand. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my job. I love the population I work with. There are days that are challenging. There are people who are challenging. The system gets me fired up at times. I am passionate about what I do, which people might mistake for weakness or being “too invested” (clearly I hear this term used often). As I have said before, I don’t think that being invested in a negative. Even if other people view that as a flaw, I will not change that. I will not apologise for that. I just wish there was better collaboration between agencies to help these inmates. I wish there wasn’t so much stigma attached to people who have committed a crime. Truly, anyone could easily get caught up in the judicial system, this does not mean this person no longer has value.

I just hope for a better world. I hate having conversations that focus on the limitations of what we can do as therapists/social workers. I don’t like being told that my ambitions are too high. That’s the problem with our society. Even if I don’t come close to my goals, I would rather attempt to get there and accomplish something than set my standards lower and accept things as they are. I may never see the changes in this world I wish to see, but I am sure as hell going to try.

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