A ‘Day in the Life’ of Coram Adoption East Midlands' Research and Development worker
Published: Thursday 20th August 2015
As featured in the Guardian Social Care Network, Coram’s Research and Development worker Lorraine Wallis talks us through a ‘Day in her life’
Lorraine recognises needs within adopted children and young people that are often invisible to the public, providing them with a trustworthy, stable figure who they can turn to and build confidence with:
“It’s 8am and I’m in the office on the phone to Alice*, an adopted young person, before she starts school. Her adoptive granddad has fallen ill, and talk of bereavement has triggered feelings of loss about her birth family, reigniting ‘why’ questions that she needs to share with someone.”
For 15 years, Lorraine has been working as part of Coram’s Adoption Research and Development team, devoting continued emotional support to adopted children and young people who may have experienced loss and trauma in their past: “I’m there through the highs and lows of adoptive family life, whether it’s receiving texts about a relationship break-up or attending the wedding of an adopted young person I supported 12 years ago.”
At lunchtime, Lorraine’s sat with an adoptive family in Nottingham. Last week, in a group session, Zoe* had disclosed to Lorraine that she had found her birth cousin on Facebook, but needed help and advice in how to approach her adoptive parents to organise a possible meet-up.
“My role often involves me acting as a bridge between the young person and their new family, but my main aim is always to help children feel as though they are able to talk through these things in the first instance, to avoid them acting unsafely on their curiosity alone.”
As the issue of contact in adoption is important and may require a high level of support for both parents and young people, Lorraine worked with looked-after children to produce a DVD that aims to help adults involved in adoption understand contact from a young person’s perspective: “Sharing their stories on camera was not always easy, but it’s important to better understand adoptive young people’s interest in reconnecting with the past and why some want to do so.”
In the afternoon, Lorraine is back in the office making last minute changes to the activity timetable for this year’s summer camp for adopted 11-13 year olds. From consultations with adopted children and young people more than a decade ago, Lorraine discovered that they need opportunities to build confidence and self-esteem that may have been damaged by negative birth family episodes, whilst enabling them to meet with other like-minded young people from similar backgrounds who they can share their experiences with.
In response to the adopted children and young people’s needs, through Coram Adoption East-Midlands, Lorraine helped the organisation develop ongoing child-focused support through group work, participation projects and three activity-based camps throughout the year for different age groups:
“One of the best moments at summer camp was when eight-year-old Aaron* was cheering with everyone as his new friend braved the zip wire. He told me it was the first time he hasn’t felt different to everyone else.”
*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality