Peer support is the beating heart of Adoption UK. Providing opportunities for parents and families to meet and support each other has been embedded in the charity’s DNA since it was founded, and remains at its core today. Over the past year, as all of our lives have been changed so dramatically by the Covid-19 pandemic, Adoption UK has continued to bring families together through support groups, training sessions, fundraisers and online events.

It was through peer support networks such as these that I first encountered the charity. Six weeks into becoming a parent, I was finding life much more stressful than I’d anticipated. After several heated conversations with family, who just didn’t get what I was finding difficult, and whose ‘advice’ increased my frustration, I summoned up my courage to call Adoption UK Scotland.

That weekend my daughter and I went along to our first family event in Edinburgh. What a relief that was! I could feel the stress slipping away as I chatted to Simon and Fiona from the charity. They totally validated my feelings and logically explained what was happening in my newly-created family. Meanwhile, my daughter was merrily off playing with other children in the park - being included, encouraged, and developing relationships that still exist eight years on. Everything was so relaxed and comfortable. I felt totally at ease, and I can honestly say that finding Adoption UK was one of the best things that’s ever happened to us.

Gradually, as I grew more comfortable in life with my daughter, I wanted to give back, so I rang Simon about volunteering. He invited me to a training event in which I learned more about volunteering and the support available to volunteers. An unexpected bonus was accessing free training and resources which not only helped me in my new role but were of huge benefit to my own family life too.

Adoption UK Scotland could not have been more helpful in ensuring I could fit volunteering around my family life and free time. I became a support group coordinator and would organise meetups for parents and children. As a single parent this was perfect for me because it meant I could take my daughter along. In fact, often it was like organising a play date for her – bowling, picnics, play parks, swimming. She had a great time with other children, building her very own support network, and I chatted with other parents. It was in chats like this that I had little ‘lightbulb’ moments myself as a parent. Even as the coordinator I’d still learn something new.

Volunteering is a great way to support and meet other adoptive families in your area. It can be a lot of fun and is a good way to make new friends, learn new skills and gain valuable work experience. Eight years on, I think both my daughter and I have a sense of inclusion and validation thanks to our involvement with Adoption UK. In the early part of our family life, I think we both felt a bit isolated and lost - but now we have found our tribe.

If you would like to know more about volunteering with Adoption UK Scotland, please drop Simon Cawthorne a line at [email protected]