Celebrating Social Workers with McKenzie Bussman

With March being Social Worker Month, we want to give thanks for our amazing Lifeline social workers. McKenzie Bussman is one of our social workers, and we want to highlight her contributions to God’s ministry through Lifeline. 

When McKenzie moved to Birmingham, Alabama, to attend college at Samford University, she knew she wanted to help people through a future career. Still, she was unsure how that would look. While attending Samford, McKenzie began interning with Lifeline Children’s Services. As a result of her time at Lifeline, she began heavily considering social work as a career path. McKenzie also had first-hand knowledge of adoption through the adoption of her little sister from China. Then, she explains that her experience living in China for a brief period in college “solidified the decision to work in this field and advocate for children needing Christ-centered forever families.” 

McKenzie pursued a social work degree and received her Master of Social Work from the University of Alabama. She is now a full-time social worker at Lifeline. We asked McKenzie some questions about her ministry as a social worker to give insight into how they impact our families. 

Why did you want to work for Lifeline? 

It was so important to me to practice social work with a biblical foundation. At times, this job can be a lot to process, and I can’t imagine completing any part of my day without the hope of the gospel. This is where my encouragement rests and what gets me up each and every day. 

What do you do at Lifeline?   

I am the program manager of our Philippines program here at Lifeline. This is our newest international program! It has been so wonderful to meet with the central authority and advocate for the precious children in the Philippines. This is such an incredible program for families who are interested in adopting older children, sibling groups, or children with more moderate to significant special needs. We are planning a hosting program with the Philippines in August, so be on the lookout for more info about that!   

What does a typical day look like for you as a social worker? 

Each day is so different, which makes the job so fun! It ranges from video calls with the Philippines Central Authority, walking through the next steps in a family’s process, or talking to families wanting to learn more about the adoption process. There can be a lot of paperwork to process at times, but this is one of my favorite parts! Sending off paperwork just means that a family is one step closer to bringing their child/children home.  

What is your favorite thing to do/see in your job as a social worker? 

One of my favorite parts of the job is celebrating milestones with families. It is always so encouraging to see a family walk through the beginning stages of the adoption process and then arrive home with their child! There are so many different (and sometimes hard) aspects of the adoption process, and it is so encouraging to see a child that has been prayed for finally be welcomed home!  

What is one of the most challenging things you face as a social worker? 

I think one of the most challenging aspects is seeing how many children are waiting for forever families. There can be up to 150 children waiting for families on the Philippines database each month. Seeing this number encourages me each and every day to advocate for the children waiting in the Philippines and across the world.  

What parts of your personality or passion fit well with being a social worker? 

I love connecting with others! In this role, you are walking with families through the entirety of their adoption process.  Getting to know the families is one of my favorite parts!  

Have you ever thought there were parts of your personality that God couldn’t use in this role? 

I am an introvert! I always thought that being a social worker would be more geared towards extroverts, but this is far from the truth. Yes, there will be certain aspects of the job that you like more than others, but this is what grows you as a social worker. There have been so many opportunities that I have had to consistently challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone- and this is one of my favorite things about my job. 

How do you approach social work as ministry? 

There are so many parts of the adoption process that we, as social workers, cannot control.  Whether that’s timelines or a family’s matching process (to name a few!), it would be incredibly difficult to walk through these stages without the hope found in Jesus Christ. One of my favorite parts about Lifeline is starting each morning in prayer as a staff.  We are able to come together before the start of our days, lift up specific situations, and pray over this ministry.    

How do you refresh your own heart/soul in a job that can be draining? 

 For me, it is being involved in church and having a wonderful group of friends who surround me and pick me up whenever I feel overwhelmed! Each morning, I wake up, walk, and just spend some quiet time with the Lord. This is one of my favorite parts of the day- I feel like it sets up my day so that I am truly relying on God throughout my day.  

When McKenzie is not working, she loves being outside. In addition to hiking, going to the lake, or going for a run, she has recently become a huge fan of pickleball. Her dog, Colbi, and her friends and family fill her heart with happiness when she gets to spend time with them. We are grateful for McKenzie and all our Lifeline social workers, who show families the love of Christ daily.