“Am I the sort of person they’re looking for?”
“Will we survive the approval process?”
“What will my future child or children be like?”
“Will I love them, and will they love me?”
Anyone considering adoption will no doubt have a long list of questions to which they seek answers. While parents anticipating the arrival of biological children will no doubt have a long list of questions too, the routes to the communities of support which will provide the answers tend to be obvious – through friends and family, NCT groups and local community children centres – and these communities grow and develop along with the children. For adoptive parents, or prospective adopters, the routes to community are much harder to find, with many of those preparing to adopt not knowing others who have been on the adoption journey before them. And unlike pregnant mothers, fellow prospective adopters are not so easy to spot!
We are Family Adoption (WAF) exists to create communities for adoptive families, and to provide the support that adopters, like all parents, require through the highs and lows of parenting. Run by adopters, for adopters, WAF provides a wide range of services underpinned by our commitment to peer-to-peer support. No-one understands what an adoptive parent is experiencing like another adoptive parent, so through our parent support groups, family meet-ups, online resources and an excellent programme of online talks, we bring adopters together so they can support each other to thrive.
The support we offer starts during the later stages of the adoption process, offering advice and guidance to prospective adopters as they prepare for their approval hearing and as they navigate the ups and downs of finding the a ‘match’. Our community carries adopters through the rollercoaster of parenting – supporting new adopters as they build and nurture their families, as their children start new schools, during the challenges of adolescence and early adulthood. By sharing their journeys in this way, members of our community form friendships which last a lifetime.
Our research has shown that adoptive families have faced increased challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, not least because they have been isolated for long periods of time from their support networks. Having always prided ourselves on our ability to offer local opportunities for adopters to meet in person with like-minded people, we have managed to adapt quickly to the new normal we find ourselves living in – digitising many of our services in a matter of weeks – to ensure that our members need not feel alone at a time when they need support more than ever. Through this rapid transformation of our services, we have been able to reach even more parents and our vision for the future has become more ambitious as a result.
They say every cloud has a silver lining, and while the pandemic and the resulting lockdown have given our members a stormy year, it has also helped our community to find its voice. We are no longer just talking to each other, but also to those who make the decisions that influence our lives. Drawing on experience shared by our members, we successfully advocated for local adoption agencies to provide enhanced support for adoptive parents during the pandemic and we are now working in partnership with them to deliver impactful services which have been much-welcomed by our community. With the future of the Adoption Support Fund (through which adopters and their children are able to obtain much-needed funding for essential post-adoption therapeutic services) hanging in the balance, we will continue to use our voice to make ensure that our members’ views and experiences inform decisions which affect us all.
Whether you are only in the early stages of considering adoption or you’re a long way down the road of adoptive parenting, we’re here to reassure you that there is a ready-made community waiting to support you, through the good times and the challenging, and we will welcome you with open arms. We believe it takes a village to raise a child, and we stand ready to be yours.