In our series, Behind the Desk, we catch up with the talented, dedicated, and compassionate individuals who help make everything our organization does possible. This month we’re featuring Julie Marka, Education Manager with CH/LSS.
Julie joined CH/LSS in 2012 and has worked in a variety of roles on our foster care and adoption team. “Julie has been a part of our team and has grown in so many ways since she began as an intern in the adoption program,” says Heidi Wiste, Children’s Home President and Julie’s supervisor. “Whether processing intercountry adoption applications, supporting clients through pregnancy services, or facilitating pre and post adoption support, Julie has soaked in all of these incredible experiences in working with individuals and families and understanding the various perspectives everyone brings to this process. We appreciate Julie and recognize the incredible knowledge and talent that she adds to the adoption team!” Read more about how Julie’s life and work below.
What is your current role with CH/LSS and what are some of your primary responsibilities?
My current role with CH/LSS is Education Manager. I oversee various educational programming and opportunities for connection—both for prospective and active foster and/or adoptive parents.
What originally drew you to the field of foster care and adoption?
I have been touched by adoption since a young age, as my own family includes adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents. I myself have a blended family and am passionate about permanency for kids. Professionally, I interned at Children’s Home Society while obtaining my undergraduate degree in social work, which solidified my passion for the community. I have been working at Children’s Home and LSS since 2012, and over that course of time have worked in a variety of sectors of foster care and adoption.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Watching the evolution of understanding and competency in families before, during, and after they take pre-adoption classes is very exciting. There is often a moment that the lightbulb goes on, and families recognize that trauma-informed parenting requires a different type of parenting toolset and a special type of training. Once that lightbulb turns on, many enriching conversations ensue in our classroom!
We appreciate Julie and recognize the incredible knowledge and talent that she adds to the adoption team! -Heidi Wiste, Children’s Home President
What is something you wish people knew about foster care and adoption that they might not?
Trauma shapes the brain and informs behavior. This can be scary for prospective parents, yet we are talking about kids who are resilient, fun, brilliant beings who are capable of thriving with the care of supportive adults.
You helped develop one of our upcoming webinar series How to Better Understand Race & Family in collaboration with Partnerships for Permanence. What can folks look forward to learning during this two-part series?
Families attending this two-part webinar series can expect to hear directly from those who have experienced transracial placements as children, receive an overview of the implications of historical and present racial trauma in the community, and receive tools and supports for parenting transracially.
What advice would you give to families looking to begin their adoption or foster care journey?
Take all of the trainings you can now, before you start the process. It will not only help you in your self-assessment of whether this is the right program for you, but trainings serve as a wonderful asset in the matching process and often provide access to longer-term resources which you can come back to when needed.
Switching gears to life outside of work — what does an ideal weekend look like to you?
I am a mother of two young girls, so any weekend that they are getting along and playing together is bliss. Additionally, I am an avid tabletop gamer (think strategic board games, card games, and Dungeons and Dragons), and my spouse and I set time aside every single weekend to engage in these hobbies. The ultimate ideal weekend would include my children playing D&D with us, but alas they are still too young.
What songs or podcasts on your current playlist?
I have an incredibly diverse playlist, with songs spanning the gamut from opera to rap, and everything in between. Currently, my 7-year-old controls the radio in the car, though.
Do you have a favorite saying or quote that makes you laugh, gives you peace, or provides you with wisdom?
I’m lucky enough to have a small group of close-knit friends that have been in my life for almost 20 years. My favorite quotes are those that come from inside jokes with these friends, my “chosen family.”
What’s something that always brings a smile to your face?
When my kids are playing together, and they both start giggling. That’s the stuff.