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Members' Commendations: Adoption & Fostering Support Week for LGBTQ+ parents 2023

27 November -1 December, 2023

In Summer 2023 we asked our LGBTQ+ adopter and foster carer members which social workers deserved to receive a members' commendation - to show that they'd gone above and beyond in their work. Check out the list below to see if any work at an agency you're considering to go on your journey with!

Greater London

Four social workers from the Greater London region receive a members' commendation from our LGBTQ+ adopters and foster carers in 2023. 

From Adopt London South, Elaine Knight and Anna Koukis were both awarded a nod from our members.

In Adopt London West, Ramona Proti and Deepti Walia receive a members' commendation each for their work. 

Read some words from Debbie Gabriel, Adopt London West Head of Service.

At Adopt London West we really value the connections we have with Adopters from the LGBTQ+ community, we always feel honoured when prospective adopters make an enquiry to begin their adoption journey with us, we are proud that we receive positive feedback about the welcome and support that adopters receive from all the team at ALW. We recognise there is more to do to ensure that LGBTQ+ adopters receive more than just a warm welcome and good support through their assessment journey, we need to continue to reflect and learn to ensure that LGBTQ+ adopters inform and directly influence our practice moving forward. We promote membership of NFS right from the earliest stages of the adoption enquiry process, we know how valuable it is for our adopters to receive support and guidance from other LGBTQ+ adoptive parents, peer support is always, credible, relevant and real, we truly value our partnership with NFS and believe that every family starting out on their adoption journey benefits from the support of the LGBTQ+ adoption community, I know that both of the social workers nominated for commendations consider it a privilege to be part of the journey that NFS members take to become a family

Read a statement from Audrey, the Head of Service at Adopt London South.

It is fantastic to hear that four social workers from Adopt London have been nominated for awards by New Family Social members and incredible that two of those workers are from Adopt London South. Elaine and Anna's nominations help us to know that we are getting things right for our families and that it what we strive to do each day. Elaine's hallmark is that she does go the extra mile for the families that she works with to provide the best service that she can. This nomination is testament to her commitment to working in partnership to achieve great outcomes. Anna is a fantastic social worker and has come to adoption more recently but her passion for learning, growth and raising and maintaining high standards is infectious. She has a phenomenal skill set that benefits her families consistently and it is incredible to see this recognised outside of our own organisation. We value our opportunities to work with our LGBTQ+ adopters and with New Family Social and are committed to our shared learning journey so that our families can have a positive experience when working with Adopt London South.Agency

Anna was described one of our members as: '[Consistently showing] empathy and understanding to the reality and challenges of adoption. Where our boys’ local authority failed to support us, Anna continues to fight for the best interest of our family and is always responsive, clear and human regarding the situation.

She’s incredibly kind, genuine and compassionate, always listening and never judging us for how we may feel.

We couldn’t celebrate our good fortune enough for finding such a remarkable social worker.'

Read some words from Anna

Anna says: 'I am really touched to be nominated by one of the phenomenal families that I work with. I enjoy my role and supporting parents and prospective adopters enormously. It is such privilege to be part of a family coming together and growing.'

One member said of Elaine: 'She was our fourth social worker on our journey.

No matter what we asked or when we contacted her she always replied – even on days off – and chased things up to ensure no further delays happened.

We had some issues with our little one’s social worker and she constantly followed up and chased for important information we needed.

Elaine always made us feel top priority even though she had a lot of cases she was dealing with.'

Read some words from Elaine

I feel very honoured to be nominated by New Family Social members for an award. I am passionate about my role and it is important to me that I am able to offer a high level of support to prospective adopters, the child placed with them and the family members. I feel that the transition into an adoption placement for everyone affected is one of the most important parts of my role. I will go the extra mile to offer support and guidance during this emotional period of major change in everyone’s lives. I feel that by offering a supportive environment this allows the prospective adopters to share any concerns or worries they may have and this helps to secure better outcomes for the children. This is my ultimate motivation.

Ramona was described by one of our members as: ‘An amazing support to the both of us from initial assessment right through our whole journey to our final adoption certificate. She’s always been an incredible listener and so approachable. Making us feel completely at ease.

'Ramona hasn’t been afraid to ask the difficult questions and was an incredible advocate for both of us and our boys.

'We really had faith in Ramona and quickly developed trust for one another.'

Read some words from Debbie Gabriel from Adopt London West on Ramona's commendation:

I am delighted that Ramona’s excellent social work practice has been recognised with a commendation from NFS members, Ramona is a skilled, sensitive social worker who always provides a high level of support and attention to families she is working with. Ramona is reflective and builds strong and positive relationships, she is thoughtful about the strengths of a family & supports them to build their confidence during their assessment to be ready to be therapeutically informed parents when a child joins their family

One member said of Deepti: 'As an LGBTQ+ first time adopter in a same sex couple imagine your dream social worker. As an Asian lesbian, it felt too hard to imagine, daunting in fact. And then, my partner and I met Deepti Walia, from Adopt London West.

‘[She] immediately built trust and safety early on in our relationship, had empathy, actively listened and used inclusive language.

‘…Deepti worked tremendously hard to build a partnership with the team placing our daughter. She worked tirelessly and pushed timelines which avoided a three-month delay by completing the panel paperwork to extremely tight deadlines.'

Read some words from Debbie Gabriel from Adopt London West on Deepti's commendation

I am very pleased and proud that Deepti has received a commendation for her work from NFS members, Deepti is an excellent social worker who has a unique ability to engage and get alongside families to offer reflective and sensitive support to them through their adoption journey. Deepti is respectful and attuned to issues of diversity and difference and promotes every applicants individual story, she holds applicants through the process and is always mindful of intersectionality and how the applicants experiences influence them as individuals and as future parents

North of England

Our members commended Anna Bukowski, a fostering social worker at Barnardo's in the North of England.

Read some words from Lisa Lewis, Manager at Barnardo's Fostering North England.

I am thrilled that Anna's person-centred approach to working with carers has been recognised. At Barnardo's, we always aim to support foster carers in a meaningful way and understand what is important to them. This is also the same approach we encourage our carers to adopt in supporting young people. We are proud to be working with foster carers from the LGBTQ+ communities, and we believe that any loving person can make a wonderful foster carer to a child in need of a stable, supportive home.

Our LGBTQ+ members said: 'Anna supported me through illness, putting no pressure on regarding placements.

'As a short breaks foster carer, Anna understands that at 70 I only wish to continue supporting the families I’ve been working with these past few years.

'Anna supports me in my contact and work with children/young people who have moved on from their agency or completed their adoption.

'Anna’s very affirming and I feel well supported.'

Read a short statement from Anna on receiving her commendation

'I am delighted to hear of the feedback about our service which a foster carer has kindly shared. Hearing positive feedback like this is a great reminder as to why I am in this role. This carer is a pleasure to work with, and her longstanding support for children and young people is very much appreciated.'

South East England

Our members nominated three social workers in the South East of England for commendations. Helena Edmonds and Daire McGrath both support LGBTQ+ adoptive parents and applicants at Adoption South East RAA. Roshel Sahota works with LGBTQ+ foster carers as part of the team at Oxfordshire County Council.

Read a statement from Adoption South East RAA

We’re delighted that Helena has received this commendation and that as an ASE social worker she has made such a difference to how a family feel seen, heard and validated. It is how we aspire to work to support all of our wonderfully diverse families across our region and being members of New Family Social really supports us in turn in achieving our aspiration.

It is no surprise to us in Adoption South East that Daire has been described as a “beacon of light” for her adoption support work. We are really thrilled that her skills and commitment as an ASE Adoption Social Worker, who always goes that extra mile to make sure that all families can access support when they need it, are being celebrated by New Family Social. Thank you New Family Social!

Read some words from Jackie Giles, Oxfordshire County Council's Fostering Service Manager

'Oxfordshire County Council Fostering Service welcome carers from a wide range of backgrounds who can meet our children’s needs and provide the love, care and attention they need. We value all our carers do for our children and really welcome LGBTQ+ carers into our fostering community'.

Helena was incredibly understanding and set up meetings with everyone supporting our son to ensure good communication and ability to meet his needs with a clear path.

‘[She] retracted and amended our son’s not-so-great life story book.

Helena was very empathetic and horrified on our [behalf] that it had lots of “mum and dad” copy and paste typos which made us feel validated.’

Daire is a beacon of light in the sometimes dark and confusing world world of post-adoption support.

'She’s guided us, as effortlessly as possible, through multiple rounds to secure funding for our daughter’s therapy.

‘She’s as helpful now as she was four years ago when she first introduced us to our children.

'A true professional with her heart when and truly rooted in the best interests of all children.'

What our LGBTQ+ members said: 'My child’s SW has continually gone above and beyond this past year to not only support my child but myself as well – which technically isn’t really her job. Roshel checks in with me all the time and keeps me updated. She’s supported me in getting my child diagnosed by CAMHS which has involved some lengthy paperwork.

Roshel’s really kind, thoughtful and caring, speaking up for my child in meetings. She always gets him a present each year and in all honesty, I’ve not met a nicer person in social services.’

We received additional member commendation nominations for a number of social workers not listed above - as soon as we hear back from their agencies to confirm their details we'll add them to the list

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