It's working for Jane Kim, Manager of Office of Immigration & Visa Services at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
To me and my team, constructive feedback comes from a place of caring - it pushes you to make better decisions and have better outcomes.
Meeting Jane Kim is like being reconnected with an old friend. Her warmth and smarts resonate with an authenticity that feels not only rare but also so very welcome. Her work – and there is lots that Jane is doing – speaks to and underscores her values. At University Of Pennsylvania Hospital she manages the Office of Immigration & Visa Services at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Jane is the mother of a neurodivergent son. This is where Jane is a vocal advocate, writer and one-woman support powerhouse for those who need her care and experience. To say she is a beacon of light is an understatement. Allow me to introduce the remarkable Jane Kim.
To enjoy every season, because they change quickly. Also, that you may think you’re in control of what’s about to happen, but the baby’s in control.
I work from home and my morning routine keeps me at my best. My son wakes up early, so we usually read for 20 minutes and then I plan my day. I try to finish all the important stuff before lunch, and leave email and administrative tasks for the afternoon. Last year, I decided to go above and beyond for someone ~2-3 times a week. I serve the international population, so there’s a lot on the line if things don’t go right with their visa and/or immigration applications. I remind myself that my life wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for my parents immigrating to the States in the 1970’s, and that the people I serve are trying to set down their own roots and achieve their dreams. With the exception of indigenous people, we’re all immigrants at heart – no matter how long ago your ancestors arrived in this country.
My team also inspires me. We value candidness and appreciate constructive feedback. To me and my team, constructive feedback comes from a place of caring – it pushes you to make better decisions and have better outcomes.
As a kid, I wanted to be a writer. I was very shy. I had a good imagination and enjoyed meeting different characters, experiences, and perspectives through books. I never felt that I fit in, and books were somewhat of an escape.
I started writing about parenting a neurodiverse child to organize my thoughts and make better informed decisions. At first, I didn’t know if I would be sharing my pieces, but the process of writing was healing. I regularly visited the blog Love That Max: A Blog About Kids With Disabilities Who Kick Butt, and it helped me in ways family and friends could not. I appreciated how Ellen Seidman’s posts normalized parenting a child with a disability while educating the neurotypical majority. It was refreshing and real. I hope my pieces are the same. With every piece, I strive to be authentic – and empower parents that may be struggling and offer a perspective they may not know. Someone at work that I admire told me that stories are meant to be shared. Deciding to share my son’s diagnosis was a big decision. Ultimately, I made the decision to share it, to promote better understanding for my son and our family.
I see two very special and unique communities that I feel privileged to be a part of. Outside my family and friends, as a teenager and young adult, I felt most at home with the international community. They shaped me so much that I decided to pursue a career in immigration. The second is the neurodiverse and disability community. Both communities are creative, diverse, and strive to be better understood. Being around these people at work and at home makes me want to do my best – even on those days where it’s hard.
My biggest challenge as a new mother working was navigating, accepting and living with my son’s autism spectrum diagnosis. Believing that you are doing enough as a parent, in any given moment. It’s a constant battle, and I’ve made strides – but I’m still working on achieving that balance. I have an incredible support system – and it’s still hard. My partner, my family, and the key people in my community (i.e. neighbors, teachers, instructors, therapists) understand who my son is as a person and not a diagnosis. I worked hard at that (and had many difficult conversations) and hope that some of my efforts will positively shape his future and that of other neurodivergent kids. My biggest challenge was not necessarily motherhood per se, but balancing who I am once I became a mother, on top of an unexpected diagnosis. If you don’t set aside time to focus on you, the juggling act will consume you. I unwind by writing, playing tennis, going on date nights, and hanging out with my family and my dog, Carlos.
Listen to your gut and don’t be afraid to forge your own path. Mothers face so much pressure – externally and internally. Be kind to yourself and release some of the negative chatter. Also, slow down! The time goes by fast – I like doing things that organically slow down time a bit – riding a bike, taking the train, having a picnic, dance parties in the kitchen, evening board games. Anything that fosters more connection.
My family and a handful of trusted babysitters. I must have done something good in a past life, because I’ve been blessed with wonderful babysitters, when I needed it the most. A couple were in grad school at the time (i.e. Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, etc.) and eager to practice what they learned. They saw it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and supported my son and me in more ways than they’ll know. If they needed anything today, I’d be there for them in a heartbeat. If they’re reading this, you know who you are!
Books are my go-to mentors! With books, you avoid scheduling conflicts, lol. My parents and sister are great mentors, for different reasons. I’ve also learned a ton from the people I work with (coworkers and clients alike) as they specialize in and are experts in so many different areas.
I’ve mentored college and grad students, and those on my team. I think (and hope) my mentees would say I’m approachable, authentic, and advocate for them – by empowering them to trust their instincts and grow outside their comfort zones. If you can do that, you can handle most anything that comes your way.