PARENTS

How Adopted Children Inspired Their Parents To Help Others Become Families

19/05/2015 18:20 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 09:59 BST
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When adoptive parents are matched with their children, they know their lives are about to change infinitely.

But for many building a relationship with their children also leads to a change in an area of their lives they didn’t envisage would be affected – their career.

“When I started thinking about adoption did I imagine it would lead to me changing my job? No way. Never,” says Hayley, 37, from Surrey, who adopted a three-year-old daughter in 2010 and now works as a Trusts Manager for the charity Adoption UK.

When Hayley saw the fundraising position advertised in 2014, she knew she had to go for it – despite it involving a three hour commute to Oxfordshire.

“I had worked for charities in the past, but never for one whose services I had used myself,” Hayley tells HuffPost UK Parents.

“Adoption is the ending to the dream of a family that you had wanted for so long, but it is also the start of something new - something brilliant, but also challenging, - so I know just how vital it is for adoptive parents to get the support they need.

“I was so excited by the idea of helping other parents find that support that even the prospect driving for six hours a day didn’t put me off.”

Hayley’s story isn’t unusual. About a quarter of Adoption UK’s staff are adoptive parents, as are eight of the 10 trustees. They also have more than 70 adoptive parent volunteers who run their network of local support groups and 31 trainers, all of who are adoptive parents.

“This clearly shows adoptive parents are drawn to jobs and volunteering at Adoption UK,” says Hugh Thornbery, the charity's chief executive.

“Adoptive parents’ own real life experiences are invaluable to us - and our members - as they help us to provide the very best information, guidance and support.

“Our community is connected by the need to understand the challenges of adoptive parenting and to celebrate the rewards together.”

Scott, 38, from Cambridgeshire, is a senior regional manager at Adoption UK. His job involves managing the regional managers who liaise with local authorities and run support groups.

"My team is made up of people from many different backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common that’s brought us to work for Adoption UK - and that's our children," he says.

Scott and his partner Tristan, 43, a railway customer service manager, have three adopted sons.

He had previously worked in retail and the service industry but gave up work in 2007 when his first two sons were placed for adoption and started working at Adoption UK in October 2014.

adoption

Scott and Tristan

He is proud of the work the charity has done to ensure peer-to-peer support is available to adoptive parents when they need it most, and for campaigning on issues that affect all adopters: like the pupil premium, setting up the Adoption Support Fund and raising awareness of child on parent violence.

“Supporting prospective adopters is something I feel passionately about, as I know how overwhelming the process can be and how naïve Tristan and I were at the beginning,” he says.

“I know there were things we were told about that we forgot in our excitement at the prospect of being able to have children. And when we first brought the boys home it was a nightmare, because we were so underprepared.

“That’s why it is so important for adopters to take up roles within the company, to make sure that the adopters’ needs are understood.”

Hayley agrees that looking after adopted children presents a unique set of challenges for parents, and that's why other adoptive parents are so well placed to help them.

“A lot of people who have children will say things like: ‘Oh all children have tantrums and all children have bad days…’

“Well yeah, that’s true, but not all children are doing it because they’re scared you’re going to reject them and tell them they’ve got to go and live somewhere else.

“That’s what my daughter carries around and that’s why adoptive parents need extra support as they can't just be 'parenting' they need to do therapeutic parenting.

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"Adopting has been massively more challenging than I ever imagined," Hayley adds.

"I was very used to it being just my husband and I, and suddenly we had a three–year-old - a confused, upset and angry three-year-old on our hands.

“But it has also been massively better than I ever hoped for.

“There’s nothing like the feeling when I collect her from school and she comes running towards me, saying 'mummy' and chucks her arms round me. That is the best thing in the world.

“And I'm just really proud to work for an organisation that is making it easier for adoptive parents to weather the lows and enjoy the highs.”

To find out more about Adoption UK visit adoptionuk.org.

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