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Volunteering at First4Adoption
Published: August 10, 2015
I have just come off the phone from today’s third potential adopter. As a volunteer for the national information service, First4Adoption, I take calls from a wide range of people considering the tremendous emotional journey that is adoption. Some of them are telling us things they have never shared with even their closest family and friends.
My name is Karen and I have been working with First4Adoption for a year. I am in my late forties, married with two adopted children, Louise who is eight and James who is six. I work for a few hours a week doing admin for a local Pre-School. Now that my children are both at school fulltime, I was looking for an extra challenge. I came across First4Adoption through Adoption UK’s website.
Volunteering felt a good way of being able to use the experience I have gained as an adopter and being able to learn some new skills too. I am now trained to help people by talking to them about the adoption process and then following up with an email or letter so they can think things through in their own time.
There is no such thing as a typical day working on the ‘phone line.
Sometimes callers are unsure whether they’re eligible to apply to adopt, worrying that they’re too old or that a minor misdemeanour in their past might count against them. Often people are daunted by what can appear to be a long and complicated application process. Some callers have had a bad experience with an agency and are unaware that they can approach another one. First4Adoption’s website has an Agency Finder which means I am able to give callers information on those agencies closest to where they live.
Many callers are interested in the latest developments in adoption, for instance the Pupil Premium or Adoption Support Fund. I am able to talk this through with them. If I find I am unable to help someone with a specific question then I can take advice from a more experienced colleague. Thankfully, I have always been able to give a caller the information they are looking for one way or another.
Occasionally people just want to share their frustrations or fears with someone. Offering a sympathetic and understanding ear is often enough to help them sort out what to do next.
Over the last year, I have personally learnt a great deal more about adoption and where to go for help. This has given me the confidence and knowledge to seek further help for my own family.
The most rewarding aspect of volunteering with First4Adoption is knowing that I have helped other people begin their adoption journey. I wish there had been a service like this when my husband and I began the adoption process.
First4Adoption is the national information service for people interested in adopting in England. The information line 0300 222 0022 is open between 10am & 6pm Monday to Friday. Would you be interested in volunteering with us?