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April 2012 Caseworker of the Month
St. Augustine, Florida
Rebecca Margulies, an adoption coordinator for Jewish Family & Community Services in Jacksonville, Florida, is our April Caseworker of the Month. When trying to place a child with special needs who had already been through one failed adoption, Margulies took special care to ensure the second adoption would be a success.
Doing the Right Thing
Looking back on her teenage years, Margulies, 31, who lives in St. Augustine, Florida, with her husband, does not remember them fondly.
It was a critical juncture in a young person's life. In addition to the usual struggles with being a teenager, Margulies was also dealing with the divorce of her parents. But there was a person who supported her and encouraged her through the hard time. Her rock, her inspiration, was her aunt
It wasn't just that Margulies' aunt loved her and cared for her, it was that she had some way of connecting with her niece, saying the things Margulies needed to hear, and being there at the right time.
“My parents are wonderful, have always been wonderful, my mom is my best friend,” Margulies said. “But my aunt really filled something in my life I really needed.”
The special education teacher would pass Margulies notes, praising her, signed with “DTRT,” or Do the Right Thing.
And to this day, whenever Margulies sees her aunt, she smiles and says to her niece, “DTRT.”
The lessons she learned from her aunt are ones she’s carried into her role as an adoption coordinator handling post-placement services for adopted children. In that position, Margulies plays an active role in helping children and their forever families forge meaningful connections.
But she takes to heart the special circumstances of individual children, and knows the difference between a “placement,” when a child is turned over to a family, and a “fit,” when the needs of a child and the skills of a parent harmonize.
“Every single one of these kids deserves to have that connection in their life,” Margulies said. “If we can help in any way, not necessarily be that connection, but make that connection, we have done our job.”
Finding a Fit for Gracin
Margulies has worked at Jewish Family & Community Services for seven years. Although the faith-based organization was founded on the tenants of Judaism such as giving back and healing the world, the agency's social services are open to all people. The unit Margulies works for is contracted to provide adoption services to the public.
Margulies was nominated as AdoptUSKids' April Caseworker of the Month because of her work helping to place a 6-year-old boy with a family from Michigan. Gracin was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and was adopted as an infant, but Margulies said his initial adoptive family gave him up when he began displaying symptoms of the syndrome, such as developmental and physical delays.
“She was right there,” said Robin Inman of Union City, Michigan, who nominated Margulies. “Right away I felt like I knew everything I needed to know about what was going on, I was never in the dark.”
Inman has had experience with the adoption process. In addition to three biological children, she and her husband Mike have adopted six children, five with fetal alcohol syndrome. Gracin was the first child adopted from another State.
“We feel like we have been called by God to do this,” Inman said. “We've been given a special gift to take on children most people can't, those who are probably the most difficult, the ones most people have the hardest time with.”
The Inmans were foster parents for seven years before adopting, and Robin Inman said the experience “trained” her and her husband.
“I guess we kind of understand it, that their reaction is out of fear. We understand why they do a lot of the stuff they do.”
Adopting Gracin also felt like a calling.
“I feel like he was meant to be in this family. It went so well, and has gone so well with him, even with all his needs, he is a lovely fit.”
At the time that Inman was viewing Gracin's profile on AdoptUSKids, Margulies was recruiting families. Besides being attentive, Inman said Margulies took steps to ensure the eight families that were considering adopting Gracin not only knew what they were getting into, but were equipped to deal with what may come.
“I love the way she handled the home studies,” Inman said. “She had a lot of people in for Gracin.”
Inman received paperwork detailing some of the issues any parents of Gracin could expect to face, along with a list of hypothetical situations.
When confronted with the realities of parenting a child with mental, physical, and behavioral issues, several opted out.
By doing so, it ensured Gracin better chances of having a successful placement.
“I liked that,” Inman said. “I think she did a great job.”
Giving 110 Percent for All Her Children
When looking for a family that will be a good fit, Margulies said one has to consider the motivation of individuals: is a person adopting because they cannot have biological children, or are they adopting because they are willing to put in the time and energy to raise a child with special needs.
“You are really looking for if the expectations of a prospective family are realistic for the child,” she said.
When it came to the Inmans, Margulies knew it was a perfect match when she found the family's profile on AdoptUSKids.
“I must have told Robin a hundred times, 'I wish we could clone your family.'” Margulies said. “We want families who will love our kids good, bad, and ugly. And they do, and they accept him for who he is.”
Margulies remembers laughing when she was notified she had been nominated. She said she was shocked, and honored.
“It's so nice to hear that they felt that way, I hope all my clients do,” she said. “I give 110 percent for all my children, and log as many hours as I can to get homes for these children.”
She tries to stay in touch with families and children.
“They all keep a place in my heart,” she said.
Inspired by this story?
- Child Welfare Professionals: Take action by using our child-specific recruitment resources to strengthen your efforts to recruit families on behalf of individual children.
- Families: Take action by learning more about being matched with a child and the processes of how to foster and how to adopt.
- Media: Consider sharing this story and other real stories about adoption and foster care by taking advantage of our resources for the media.
Download the April 2012 Caseworker of the Month press release (PDF 54 KB).