Undecided freshman, foster family member embraces social work major

Following her family's decision to foster and adopt, Kylee Schwartz said she decided to pursue a career in social work. Photo courtesy of Kylee Schwartz

By Lauren Combs | Reporter

Because of her family’s experience fostering and adopting children through Buckner International, Allen freshman Kylee Schwartz said she decided to pursue social work — despite concerns of an emotional job description.

“The foster care program, in general, holds a strong place in my heart,” Schwartz said. “Having opened up my home to kids, having so many foster placements come through my house — it’s been a big learning curve and an integral part of my life growing up, and I want to continue to do that vocationally as well.”

Schwartz said it was a big adjustment to transition from being an only child to having a foster family at such a young age, but she said it contributed to her inclusive character.

Schwartz’s family adopted two of their foster placements, including her brother Nike, whose four-year-long adoption process gained national attention on large news networks like NBC and Fox.

According to Adoption Network, it typically takes between a few months and a year to adopt a child in foster care.

“I think we packed approximately 300 people into a courtroom that’s supposed to fit 150, and it was such a great celebration,” Schwartz said. “It was such a surreal moment to build up the anticipation of these four years — it finally paying off. Then we’re able to share our story with so many other people … and share how awesome it was to finally adopt my brother and how God-centered that moment was.”

Allen freshman Rylee Arnold was in the courtroom with Schwartz to celebrate the adoption of her brother.

“[Schwartz has] seen the kind of trauma that these kids have gone through, and she’s been on the receiving end of that,” Arnold said. “I think her having that kind of experience will allow her to have an enhanced ability and knowledge of what foster families go through during the adoption process.”

However, Schwartz said that she wasn’t always convinced she wanted to do social work and that she came to Baylor undecided.

“I have seen some hard cases that have happened in foster care,” Schwartz said. “There have been instances of some forms of abuse and neglect, which is always hard to see and hard to handle emotionally. I’m a very emotional person, so I knew coming into this major that I would probably experience some things that would not be super pleasing and a little scary at times.”

Despite her hesitations, Schwartz said she had a nagging feeling that God was calling her to follow this career.

“Through fostering, it can just bring a lot of kids joy because they come from an unstable situation, and they’re able to just receive more love than from the situation that they come from previously,” Schwartz said. “There was a placement we had — he was approximately two months old, and he came to us straight from the hospital with a body cast. I believe he had around 36 broken bones … As we cared for him, he ended up getting the body cast off, and we got to see him move around and smile a lot more.”

Schwartz said her personal goal in social work is to raise awareness about the foster care system.

“It’s a lengthy goal to say that we want to fix the system, but I believe that the first step in fixing something is awareness,” Schwartz said. “To help the foster care system is just to make people more aware of it. It may be a broken system right now, but those who help in it can see the momentous changes that come in a child’s life who is in foster care.”