The National Adoption Week Awards recognise and celebrate good practice and exceptional achievement among those working or involved in adoption in England.

On Tuesday 17 October we hosted the annual National Adoption Week Awards at the Foundling Museum, London to celebrate good practice and exceptional achievement among those working or involved in adoption in the UK. The winners were as follows:

Adoption Social Worker of the Year

Rachael Cutler

This is what one adoptive parent said about the winner: “We first met her in stage one of the adoption process when she delivered training. Right from the start we were drawn to her open-hearted and very real personality. She was clearly a social worker who loved her job and wanted to help potential parents achieve their dream of adopting a child. She has not only gone that extra mile for us, she has walked up hills, run through storms and climbed mountains – to allow us to write this with our beautiful daughter beside us.”

Adoption Support Practitioner of the Year

Lorraine Wallis

Lorraine has worked in adoption since 1999 when she began researching the needs of adopted children and young people. She went on to create participation groups which allowed children a voice in helping professionals to understand their needs. She was instrumental in the development of The Coram Adoptables – which has grown into a national peer support group, and with which she is still involved.

Those who work with her are struck by her focus and her drive to keep children’s needs at the centre of service delivery.

She is highly valued by families for her ability to listen, offer new perspectives and support relationships.  She continues to innovate and has recently begun “men and kids” evenings to balance the fact that support services are often taken up by mums. She brings energy, fun and enthusiasm to her role. She does far more in 4 days a week than would be expected in 5! She always puts children and families first.

Adoption Blog of the Year

This is what our nominators said about the winning blog:

He has been blogging about adoption consistently for over three years. His writing is candid and informative. He has written guest posts for charities including Adoption Focus and New Family Social and contributed articles to publications including Gay Times. He focuses on the positives of adoption without shying away from the challenges. Readers are left in no doubt that adoption is hard work but also extremely rewarding. His blog is professionally written and presented. And his honest, entertaining and educational posts are always well-received.

Excellence in Adoption Practice

Kent County Council and Coram for their Post Adoption Support

In a partnership that began in 2014, our winning service delivers multi-disciplinary post-adoption support. This includes – to name just some of the services on offer – learning workshops, parenting programmes – including for adopters of autistic children, therapeutic parenting support groups, a group for approved adopters and for those awaiting approval, a reflective group for adoption staff, attachment training for schools and a peer-support group for adopted young people.

Adopter Champion of the Year

Fiona Dunn

This is what the person who nominated them said:

“I was her social worker when she and her husband had their children placed with them. They both exceeded my high expectations in terms of their ability to understand and meet the needs of three vulnerable children. She has subsequently spoken at training events, been interviewed by media, often putting herself out by travelling many miles to do so. Her openness has given a very clear picture of the reality of adoption. Any potential adopter hearing her is well prepared and reassured that despite the many challenges, it is worth it.”

The Gareth Marr Award for Lifetime Achievement

Caroline Davis

Caroline has worked in children’s services for 40 years. She has spent the last 25 years as the CEO of one of the UK’s most successful Voluntary Adoption Agencies. She works tirelessly with other professional bodies and agencies including the CVAA and has played a pivotal role in the development of the new Regional Adoption Agencies. In 2014 she was awarded an OBE for her service to children and families in the south-west.
A colleague describes her like this:

‘She is passionate in her work and more importantly about people. She has a very special gift in helping people to believe in themselves and to develop their strengths. She has a huge heart, endless patience, and boundless compassion. I have met no other Manager in my 40-year career who is so supportive of her staff and those around her. She is a creative thinker, a problem solver and has endless energy. She relates with equal care and attention to detail, with people of all ages, culture and ethnicity’.