In celebration of Volunteering Week 2021, we caught up with two of our amazing volunteers – Aimee and Molly – to give us the lowdown on how they work with us and what it means to them to volunteer.

Can you tell us a little about your own adoption journey?

  • Molly: My husband and I started the process in December 2019 to welcome a second child into our family. We went into the process with a biological three-year-old daughter and were adamant that adoption was right for us and for her. Seven months later we brought our little boy home! We did the end of stage two, both panels, family finding and introductions in lockdown, which was challenging, but I wouldn't change a thing. Our journey has been incredible from start to finish.
  • Aimee: We were lucky enough to be approved for 2 children, bringing our son home through traditional adoption and then our daughter through Foster to adopt (Early Permanence Placement). This was over 3 years ago and I’m so thankful to Adoption UK for helping me become a better parent. 

What’s your volunteering role at AUK?

  • Molly: My voluntary role is a Peer Mentor which means I mentor adopters going through the adoption process, family finding, early placement and beyond. I will be regularly meeting with my mentees to support them through the highs and lows of their journeys which is really exciting. 
  • Aimee: I am an Adopter Voice Champion. I share my lived experience of adoption with our Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) to influence and review changes. I work with a host of adopters in my local area to discuss what matters to our children and us as families and then feed that back to our RAA.

 What made you want to volunteer for Adoption UK and this role in particular?

  • Molly: Adoption UK was a pivotal form of support for my family throughout the adoption process, especially when the pandemic hit, so I had looked for ways that I could support the charity in my own time. I saw the role of Peer Mentor and thought how beneficial it would have been for my husband and I to have a mentor who has been through the entire process. Having someone who can empathise with you is something I find really important, so I wanted to be able to be that person. 
  • Aimee: Anything I can do to support such an incredible charity, close to my heart was an opportunity I would jump at! This role specifically, suits my passion for advocacy! I love to help others find their voice and to fight for positive change. 

What are you excited about achieving in your role?

  • Molly: I'm really excited to watch adopters go through their journeys. I know the role is going to be incredibly rewarding when I get to celebrate the milestones with my mentees, such as being approved, being matched or bringing their children home. For those mentees later on in their journey, even milestones as getting their first cuddle or having a great day of therapeutic parenting!
  • Aimee: Being an agent of change. Working alongside adopters, Adoption UK and a regional adoption agency to make meaningful change for our children. 

What would you say to anyone looking into volunteering opportunities?

  • Molly: Don't be afraid to have a chat with the hiring manager first! I was unsure if I would suit the Peer Mentor role and spent many weeks wondering if I should apply. I decided to speak to the scheme coordinator, and he was able to speak to me really informally about the role and answer all of my questions so I felt confident in applying. I would also recommend speaking to other volunteers if you can too. Although I wasn't able to speak specifically to Peer Mentors, I was able to speak to my local community group coordinators who reassured me that they receive a lot of support from Adoption UK in their roles.
  • Aimee: If you have a little time (it doesn’t take much) you can make a huge difference. Everyone has such incredible, individual talents that can be put to amazing use. We have a voice on behalf of ourselves & our children, we can use it to make real change or to praise services which are already high quality & we should do so.

Why is Adoption UK important to you?

  • Molly: Having a charity that is specifically dedicated to supporting our children and families is crucial to me. Adoption UK has provided so many adoptive families with support and has responded so well to ensuring they are there for everyone during the pandemic. I've personally found their webinars incredible for my ongoing learning and love their sense of community building. I actively attend my local community group which forms a large part of my adoption-specific support network, but also knowing that there is a helpline available should I ever need it is fantastic.
  • Aimee: Adoption is part of our lives and learning more about important adoption topics will always be important. Having a central place to do this, having a place to advocate for us and to be there for the long term is priceless.

What are your hopes for the future of adoption?

  • Molly: I really hope that there is an increase in families wanting to adopt. Specifically, I hope adoption becomes a choice for all families and is something that healthcare services recommend as options for starting a family, not just IVF or surrogacy. As a young adopter and an adopter with a birth child, it would be incredible to see younger parents and those with existing children choosing adoption. Breaking that stereotype of 'the adopter' and all of the negative myths associated with adoption is something I'll always strive to do and I think Adoption UK plays a valuable role in helping to do that too.
  • Aimee: That trauma informed practice becomes the standard for social teams, for education teams and even wider. 

Adoption UK is incredibly lucky to have so many volunteers, like Aimee and Molly, who work tirelessly to influence, support and connect the adoption community throughout the UK.  To find out more about our volunteering opportunities, head to our volunteer pages here!