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Sarah Porter

McNichols is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Catholic Charities’ Pregnancy and Adoption Support program.

I have always been passionate about adoption. I have adoption in my family so it’s something that I have grown up with and has always interested me. I have seen first-hand how adoption can affect all members of the adoption triad (adoptee, birth parents and adoptive parents) in a very positive way.

Meet Sarah Porter McNichols. She is one of the social workers at Pregnancy and Adoption Support at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington — a service we’ve been offering to the community since 1947.  She is also one of the people who works tirelessly behind the scenes to support the families involved in adoption.

McNichols shares that working in adoption is very relational: “to establish trust with a birth mother or adoptive family,” she shares, “you have to build a relationship with them.”

The other side of adoption

“Most people think of the adopted child and adoptive parents when they hear adoption,” according to McNichols.

“Yes, those lives definitely change, but I have had the privilege of working with birth parents, especially birth mothers whose lives are equally or more impacted by the decision to make an adoption plan for their child.”

She continues, sharing what her role involves: “I counsel women and couples who are experiencing unplanned pregnancies and help them decide if they should make a parenting plan or an adoptive plan for their child. I also work with adoptive families that are working through the stages of being able to adopt and plan trainings and informational meetings for them.”

One birth mother that McNichols worked with was able to continue her college education and is now on her way to becoming a nurse. That mother is also still active in her birth child’s life by being able to receive pictures and letters from the adoptive parents as well as sharing gifts back and forth.

The challenge of balance

It’s hard, sometimes, to separate yourself from your work when you work in this field.

Said McNichols, “Since our work affects people’s lives there can be a lot of hard and stressful issues that may arise or conversations that may need to be had.  It can be difficult to find a balance and it’s a continuous effort to try to let things go at the office and not have it affect your personal life.”

How you can help

There are two easy ways you can help:

1. What you give: Catholic Charities always needs donations of new baby clothes, diapers, wipes, blankets, bottles, and car seats.

2. What you say: Second, speak positively about adoption in your community. Keep those impacted by this in your prayers in a special way.

Working in adoption is inspiring, according to McNichols. She says,

Personally, I feel very fulfilled and humbled of the work that we do. It can reaffirm your faith in God, as you see his hand in each placement. There is no way some of the miracles that we see at our agency could happen without faith and God’s involvement.

If you are in a crisis pregnancy or would like more information on adoption, please call our Pregnancy and Adoption Support program at 703-425-0100 or visit our website.

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