Natalie Lohneis, Head of Adoption and Fostering services at Diagrama was recently invited to speak with Simon Benn who runs a podcast series called Thriving Adoptees. The purpose of the podcast series is to inspire and empower those who have a connection with adoption sharing inspiration and insights for adoptive parents and adoptees. Adopters and adoptees share their stories and what they’ve learned to help other listeners navigate the sometimes tricky journey.
Simon said “So why did I create this podcast? I was adopted at 5 weeks old and told about it so young I don't ever remember not knowing. I didn't suffer any adoption trauma until I hit 40 when I found out my childhood teddy bear was a gift from my birth mother. This caused an eruption of anger, feeling rejected and unloved. That kickstarted a learning journey that led me to heal and then want to help others. The podcast is a key part of that. Let's empower adoptees to thrive.”
The Thriving Adoptee podcast series has over 30 episodes so far and is continuing to grow, with stories of experiences and learning from various professionals and adoptees themselves. Simon speaks with Spencer whose uplifting story starts with 11 failed placements including one stillborn child, his wife's two bouts of cancer and countless miserable sleepless nights. But the couple were always coming from love so they just keep going. More than anything else, they wanted to share their hearts and home with children - loving them like children are meant to be loved. Simon also speaks with Satwinder who shares what he's learned by being immersed in the world of fostering and adoption for 26 years. Satwinder is CEO of IAC – The Centre for Adoption. IAC’s mission is to place children from all parts of the world, both in the UK and overseas, in loving families and to work in a fair, transparent and professional manner with all individuals who need their services.
Natalie was invited to take part in the podcast series due to having over 18 years of experience within the social care system. As a registered social worker with experience in working with children and families, ranging from family support and safeguarding services to adoption and fostering Natalie has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. Natalie has extensive rounded experience through Local Authority work, and with charities and private organisations. The last 11 years of Natalie's career have been focused on family placement services, at a managerial/ consultancy level and in improvement work.
Natalie says: "I find honesty, creativity and dedication to be the most valuable qualities for success in leading any service. My greatest passion is securing the best outcomes for the children and young people that we work with. This means well informed, well trained, insightful staff, foster carers and adopters who receive high-quality support and are able to share their learning with others."
Natalie speaks about what she thinks ‘Thriving Adoptees’ means.
Natalie said “I think of seeing somebody who is well settled and has positive relationships with the family and friendships both child and adults. That they feel part of that family and they develop a sense of security so that they test the boundaries so that they develop a positive sense of identity, it is really important. I’d love to see their wellbeing is at a good level, although we all know that people do have dips, but just have a really fulfilling life.”
Looking back over the past year Natalie also speaks about how support services have developed especially with Zoom. She said “It opens a whole range of possibilities in terms of support groups if geographically distance doesn’t enable person to person contact.” As well as talking about the assessment process and training involved pre and post-adoption.
In addition to her professional background Natalie, mother to two teenagers, has personal experience of welcoming in a sibling from foster care who was adopted by her family when she was a young adult.
Listen in to Natalie for insights on helping adoptees be settled, enjoy positive, enduring relationships and develop a positive sense of identity. Natalie shares her thoughts on resilience, coping and having fun!