If anyone understands adoption, it is someone who has been through the process. Participants in the adoption process have different perspectives about adoption as a result of their roles. One Florida adoption professional occupies a unique position. He has seen adoption from two different points of view—as an adoptee and as a counselor who works in the adoption field.
Jon Kinsey, a Florida licensed mental health counselor, had an early introduction to adoption. He and his twin sister, Jan, who is older than Jon by 15 minutes, were born in 1957 and placed for adoption as infants. Jon knew from a young age that he and his sister were adopted. When he was a child, Jon’s mother explained to him that she and his daddy went to the hospital nursery one day and viewed the babies. Of all the babies there, his parents picked Jon and his sister to bring home. This explanation sounded good to Jon, so he was content with his situation.
Even though he was aware that he was adopted, Jon did not view the couple raising him and his sister as anything other than his parents. In his mind, this man and woman were no different than if they had been his biological parents. Jon feels that God had a plan for him and his sister to be with the family that he calls his mother and father. He actually feels blessed to have been adopted as his professional training has led him to research showing that adopted children get significantly more care and nurturing than a biological child.
But Jon’s status as an adoptee did not put him on the path to working in the adoption field initially. He did not start out to be either a home study professional or a mental health counselor. In fact, his undergraduate degree was in music. Jon later attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary from 1980-1984 and worked as a music minister and a youth minister from 1979-2005.
Jon’s career path took a big turn when he went to graduate school in his late 30s searching for what he wanted to be when he grew up. After obtaining a master’s degree in social work, Jon was placed in children’s services. Ultimately, he decided that counseling would be his ministry. Looking back, Jon feels that perhaps his being adopted gave him an unconscious desire to help similarly situated children.
A connection to adoption work appeared when Jon began performing home studies in 1998. With a master’s degree in social work, he was statutorily qualified to conduct home studies in Florida. After performing adoption and foster home studies for a few years, he finally put two and two together and realized, “I was adopted and am running my own company to help people to adopt.”
The first home studies Jon performed were completed when he ran a therapeutic foster care agency. His duties included recruiting and training foster parents. After moving back to North Florida from Central Florida, Jon began assisting a local social worker who was performing private adoption home studies. When that social worker discontinued this type of work, Jon started Adopt Florida Home Studies which he continues to operate in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. Since 1998, Jon has completed more than 600 foster and adoption home studies.
In addition to running a business which performs home studies, Jon engages in private counseling. Interestingly, the office for his private counseling is located in the building which formerly housed the hospital where Jon and his sister were born. Ironically, the hospital is now located on the site where his adoptive parents’ long-time family business began.
Jon makes no secret of the fact that he is an adoptee when he is performing a home study for prospective adoptive parents. He usually reveals this information to them as a hook at the end, typically to their surprise and interest. Normally, Jon springs his adoptee status on people when they are discussing when to tell a child he is adopted. Jon says that prospective adoptive parents can hear it from the voice of experience when he asserts that a child should always know that he is adopted. People are additionally entertained to hear that Jon’s business partner is adopted and that Jon began the adoption home study business with a friend who was adopted. Jon thinks this might be a “birds of a feather” thing.
Being an adoptee has affected how Jon performs his home studies. He is personally aware of how important it is to have good adoptive parents. Therefore, Jon says that he is much more judicious than other social workers may be. He sees a great naivety with some social workers about who can qualify to adopt. The simplicity of the Florida statutes on private adoption qualifications appall and frighten him. Jon recognizes how his life would have been different had he been placed with the wrong family. Back in 1957 when he and his sister were placed for adoption, there were no home studies and background checks as there are today.
The greatest pleasure Jon has with his adoption work is to see the joy in a new adoptive parent’s face. He is amazed at how adoptive parents are so willing to change everything about their world for their child. Knowing that these children will never be in a counseling office as an adult for neglect, abuse, or things he sees in private practices when his clients grew up in toxic homes is satisfying as well.
As an adoptee, Jon was blessed to have been raised in a loving and stable home with his biological twin sister. Jon’s work as an L.M.H.C. providing counseling to and home studies for prospective adoptive parents aims to ensure success stories for other similarly situated children. His view of adoption as an adoptee uniquely impacts his view of adoption as an adoption professional.
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