In our Staff Spotlight Series, we catch up with the talented, dedicated, and compassionate individuals who help make everything our organization does possible. This month we’re featuring Becca Underhill, Education Facilitator, with CH/LSS. As an adoptive parent herself, Becca says her best advice for those thinking about adoption would be to “surround yourself and your family with people who are going to support you, no matter what. Support groups with other foster and adoptive parents can help you see common themes and help you get to the ‘why’ behind behaviors—for parents and kids alike! A counselor or therapist for the parents is a great idea, too. We have our own issues and blind spots. This can help us be better parents.” Read more about Becca’s work and life below.
What is your current role with CH/LSS and what are some of your primary responsibilities?
I am an Education Facilitator at CH/LSS. My main role is to facilitate the two-day Foster Care Adoption Education classes. I process registrations for these classes, and I set up the webinars. (I’m excited that we’re bringing back some in-person classes in 2023! 😊). Additionally, I facilitate a monthly Parent Support Group, which meets virtually with a few in-person meetings sprinkled in throughout the year.
What originally drew you to the field of foster care and adoption?
Originally (that is, a long time ago!), I read a children’s book called The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson. I was fascinated by Gilly, the main character, and her journey in foster care. In my high school yearbook, I wrote that I wanted to adopt as one of my future goals. As my husband and I were deciding to build our family, it became clear that we would get to live out this goal and dream.
Tell us more about your family’s adoption journey!
We built our family through adoption from foster care in 2012. Our son was 12 years old, and our daughter was almost 10. Children’s Home Society was our agency. We knew from the beginning of our journey that if we were going to adopt, we wanted to take placement of a sibling set. We were drawn to our kids the first time we saw their profile on MN Adopt. Of course, the initial profile didn’t share all the information we needed to know as prospective parents. At the time, that was frustrating. However, on the other side of this journey, I am so glad that my kids’ information was protected.
We missed a lot of their early milestones, and that was harder than I expected it to be. However, we were able to celebrate many big and small life events, and that has been beautiful. As parents, we have made many mistakes that we have had to ask forgiveness for.
What is something everyone should know about foster care and/or adoption that they might not?
Surround yourself and your family with people who are going to support you, no matter what. Support groups with other foster and adoptive parents can help you see common themes and help you get to the “why” behind behaviors—for parents and kids alike! A counselor or therapist for the parents is a great idea, too. We have our own issues and blind spots. This can help us be better parents.
We built our family through adoption from foster care in 2012. Our son was 12 years old, and our daughter was almost 10. We missed a lot of their early milestones, and that was harder than I expected it to be. However, we were able to celebrate many big and small life events, and that has been beautiful.
What advice would you give to families thinking of beginning their adoption journey?
I’m going to defer to my young adults on this one. Some of the words of wisdom they have said include:
“Take it slow. Slooow. Very slow. It will take some time for us (the kids) to feel comfortable enough to open up to you. You may never feel like “Mom” or “Dad” to us, but that is on us, not you.”
“Stop reading all those books about adopted kids. Get to know us as kids, as people. We’re all different.” (As a teacher, I can’t totally stand behind this advice . . . but it’s there.)
“This isn’t a ‘til they’re 18 commitment.’ Don’t treat it as such or you will alienate your kids. This is a lifetime commitment!”
Spoken directly to us: “I resented you for keeping me from my birth family until I was 18. I forgave you, but I resented you for a while.”
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love it when I host a panel that includes young people who have been in foster care or adopted from foster care. These youth have so much resiliency and have overcome more than I could ever imagine. A close second is hearing a parent say, “Becca, we tried what you suggested. That (parenting strategy) totally worked!”
Who inspires you – personally or professionally? What qualities does that person have that you find inspiring?
Corrie ten Boom was a Holocaust survivor who experienced awful, horrendous things. She endured so much and yet didn’t become bitter. She even saw lice as a blessing in disguise because it meant that the abusive guards in the concentration camps stayed away from the prisoners. She went on to live a life of sharing her testimony and faith.
Switching gears to life outside of work – what does an ideal weekend look like for you?
It starts out with sleeping in. Then a meaningful song on the radio or Spotify, one that is connected in my memory to a family member or friend. It includes coffee or lunch with friends and meaningful conversations, a geocache in the woods on a mild and sunny day, church, and dinner with family. Admittedly, it probably also includes a few (free) Bingo games on my cell phone.
What is the last book, movie, or TV series that you enjoyed so much you’re telling everyone you know to check it out?
Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix makes me curious about the world and want to travel.
Do you have a favorite saying or quote that makes you laugh, gives you peace, or provides you with wisdom?
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” —Martin Luther
What’s something that always brings a smile to your face?
I love when someone has a recommendation for me, whether it be a song, book, or movie. It shows that someone thought of me—and best of all, it’s free!