In our series, Behind the Desk, we’re catching up with some of the incredibly talented, dedicated, and caring individuals who help make everything our organization does possible. This month we’re featuring Lisa Trinh, an Intake Coordinator and Waiting Child Specialist based out of our St. Paul office.
“Lisa plays such an important role for our international programs,” says her supervisor, Kristina, “from advocating for international waiting children to ensuring new families have an in-depth understanding of the adoption process before they begin. Over the last 15+ years, she has helped hundreds of waiting children match to adoptive families!” Read more about Lisa’s work and life below.
What is your current role with CH/LSS and what are some of your primary responsibilities?
I am an Intake Coordinator and also a Waiting Child Specialist. I assist families in the intake process for all adoption programs which include Foster Care & Adoption, Infant Adoption, and International Adoption. I correspond with families through email and over the phone so they can learn about which path might be best for their family. As a Waiting Child Specialist, I advocate for children in our international adoption programs. I post their information on our website, various advocacy sites, and sometimes on social media outlets to reach out to prospective adoptive families beyond CH/LSS.
What originally drew you to the field adoption? Do you have any personal experiences with adoption or foster care that you’d be willing to share?
I first learned about the field of adoption through an old friend whose neighbor was adopted from Vietnam. My friend’s mom was telling me about how she worked at an adoption agency and would sometimes fly the children home from their birth countries to their newly adopted parents. I was naïve to think there was an actual position for escorting adopted children to their new families (I later learned that it was the social workers and other country specialists that were sent to escort when it was allowed), however, the field always stayed in my heart. After I studied Child Development in college, I sought out an internship with Children’s Home Society. As an intern, I helped with dossier paperwork for the India and Vietnam programs. After my internship, I applied for a Russia Specialist position, and I’ve been with the agency for over 16 years! As a bonus, I met the adoptee from Vietnam that my friend’s mom spoke about!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The best part of my job is when a family proceeds with a child that has been on our waiting child list for a long time! We even have a fun tradition to celebrate when this happens. It’s inspired by a hospital that plays a song in the hallways every time a baby is born. We decided that when a waiting child is matched to a family, we would ring a bell to celebrate that the child is on the path to their permanent home. My heart fills with joy when the older children find their families, or when a child with a significant need is matched!
What is something you wish people knew about adoption that they might not?
I wish people knew adopted kids are so much more than what their diagnosis says about them! They come from such hard places, but overall, they are just kids that want to play outside and learn how to ride a bike. They want the opportunity to pick out the color of their room and decorate it. They want to be part of a family that will nurture and love them.
Do you have any advice for individuals and couples looking to start the international adoption process during COVID-19?
I’d recommend families start researching the programs that will best suit their family and think about the resources that they’ll need to have for their child who is from another culture, country, and/or ethnicity. I suggest spending time talking to other families who have adopted internationally. Learn from their experiences about how their children transitioned into their homes. Get tips about traveling and learn how to speak your child’s language! It’s also a great time to view our free online webinars or register to attend one of our free online information meetings.
You’ve worked with many different types of families over the years! Do you have any advice or resources that you’d recommend for parents of transracial adoptees?
I really challenge adoptive families to intentionally go out and be the minority in a community that is not one they are used to. I encourage them to go to a church that is predominately the race of their child, go to a market where the language being spoken is that of their child’s native tongue. Look around your community for a mentor who looks like their child. As you are parenting a child from a different race and culture, make sure you are giving your child regular opportunities to be in a community where others look like them.
You also work with International Waiting Children. Can you share a little bit more about that program?
First, they are the BEST children in the world! This isn’t just because I found my daughter on the list, but the determination, dreams, and personalities of these kiddos are amazing! Whenever there is a child’s file prepared for our agency, we will go through all the families that are waiting and determine if the families have the right resources to parent that child. The children are usually waiting because they are school-aged, have a more moderate identified need, have a developmental delay, and/or are part of a sibling group (the largest sibling group that we have placed was a group of 5!).
What are some of your favorite hobbies or interests outside of work?
I come from a really big family and I’m the only daughter, so I organize a lot of family gatherings. I love having my nieces and nephew over and watch them play with my children. It’s hilarious to hear their stories and see what kind of chaos they can stir up! I love to garden as well, even though I am terrible at remembering plant names . . .
You were one of the lucky families who attended the State Fair Food Parade this year! What were some of your favorite foods?
The State Fair Parade was the best 90 minutes of the summer! Our family usually attends the fair 3 to 4 times a year, so attending the parade made us feel like we almost had a normal summer! The garlic fries at the Ball Park Café are my all-time favorite. Unfortunately, they were not at the fair this year, but the cheese curds from the Mouth Trap did not disappoint!