Photography Exhibits

Photo from "Fighting to Care: California's Social Workers SEIU 535"
Exhibit at U.C. Berkeley Institute of Industrial Relations 1/15-7/15 2002, photo 7 of 12

Adoptions Worker Amy Dooha-Chambers (right) with Paula McMurray and the children that Dooha-Chambers helped her adopt. (1997)

Alameda County adoption worker Amy Dooha-Chambers loves doing adoptions, and one of the reasons is the opportunity to place children with mothers like Paula McMurray.

When Paula McMurray's daughter graduated from high school, McMurray wanted to do something meaningful. She had just received a severance package from AT&T after being laid off as a result of the company's downsizing. She knew several grandparents in her community who were having trouble caring for the children of their drug-addicted daughters, so she decided to help. She began attending a program to train foster mothers to care for drug-addicted and HIV-positive babies. Since then she has adopted four children, all of whom were drug exposed. She described the experience as both the most difficult and the most rewarding in her life.

"When you first get them you have this fragile baby in front of you, but they are not responding to the natural hugs and stuff, so you think, 'What did I do wrong? Why doesn't this baby want me to hug him?' And you start feeling so bad and frustrated, because who doesn't respond to a hug? But they can't, so you have to keep doing it and doing it without getting the gratification. Then finally one day you see the baby smile, or maybe he sleeps all night, or maybe the tremors are not over the whole body but just over the face-that is the best part-you get to watch this wonderful metamorphosis take place. Before you had no idea what was going to happen. All you had was hope and the belief that it was going to be okay, and now you get to see this wonderful being come to life."

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