The Adoption Team
Within the established DFW Adoption team we have a Director, an Adoption Team Manager, three Adoption Social Workers and a Play Therapist. We also have a business support team of four. Together we have a wealth of experience of working with children, adoptive families and birth parents, to ensure the highest possible level of service during the adoption process and long into the future.
Collectively, we’re here to help you with every step of your adoption journey, whether you’re looking for some practical advice, counselling support or simply a voice of reassurance. To learn a little more about all of our team members, please read through their short biographies below:
Beth Miller — Independent Social Worker
I am a social worker and have worked for DFW Adoption for the last eleven years. Like my colleagues I undertake all aspect of adoption work but have a particular interest in, life story work, access to adoption records and the impact of social media on adoption. I have undertaken research into Post Adoption Depression. I am also a member of the adoption panel.
Gemma Whiteley — Social Worker
Hello. My name is Gemma and I joined the team in April 2014, having qualified as a social worker in 2012 with a Masters from Durham University. My prior experience has been within statutory children’s safeguarding, first working as a student social worker at Darlington and post-qualification, working at Middlesbrough as a front line safeguarding social worker. Whilst not without its challenges and hardships, I would argue that adoption is by far one of the most rewarding and humbling aspects of all social work practice and I feel extremely honoured to be working within it
Helen Brown — Business Administration Manager/Panel Administrator
Hello. My name is Helen Brown and I have been with the agency since December 2006. I first started as Project Administrator for the Service Level Agreement which was in place with Darlington Borough Council at the time. Following on from this, I took on the role of Family Finder, working closely with families and social workers to assist in the family finding process. Whilst working for the agency, I studied part-time for a number of years and finally graduated in 2013 with an Honours Degree in Leadership and Management. In 2016, the opportunity arose for me to apply for the position of Business Administration Manager. I applied for the post and I was successful in gaining the position. This past year has been a steep learning curve for me. Whilst my official title is Business Administration Manager, I have also taken over the role of Panel Administrator. This is a varied role where I find myself wearing several hats at the same time. Whilst this can be a challenge, it is also varied and interesting. Working for DFW Adoption is more than just a job and I feel very fortunate to work within such a friendly, committed and supportive team with great camaraderie.
Irene Redshaw — Social Work Team Manager
I joined DFW Adoption in October 2011, as a senior practitioner and from February 2014 as team manager. Prior to this I worked in a local authority adoption service undertaking adopter’s assessments and family finding for the children requiring adoptive families. I also provided post adoption support and managed the post box service. I had transferred to the local authority adoption team in 2006 from the child protection team where I had worked for 2 years.
I believe being an adoptive parent is as rewarding as it is challenging and that those that undertake the role deserve our respect and support. At DFW Adoption our whole team is dedicated to supporting families to enable their children to achieve a happy and fulfilled life.
Jan Stokes — Business Administrator
I have worked at DFW Adoption for 12 years as a member of the Business Administration Team. DFW Adoption has a service level agreement with Darlington Borough Council to run their post box service and my job is to ensure that it runs efficiently between adoptive families and birth families. I am also the administrator for post adoption cases; when people contact us to ask to see their own adoption file.
Gethin Richards — Social Worker
Hi. My name is Gethin. I am a social worker for DFW. I have been a qualified social worker since 1998 and have worked in residential and community settings. I have had links to DFW going back 10 years to when I was an independent panel member and I have worked here as a social worker since 2010. I love being part of the team here, who all have such a wide range of knowledge and experience and I have brought my own experience as an adoptive parent with me. I am passionate about promoting adoption to the LGBT community in the north east and in the summer you will often find me running a DFW stall at a Gay Pride event within the wonderfully diverse community in which we all live and work.
Claire Dale — Social Worker/Play Therapist
Hi, my name is Claire Dale and I am a play therapist and an adoption social worker with DFW. I have been co-facilitating the Adoption Skills Programme, since it first began in 2011, but actually became a part-time member of the DFW team in October 2015, which was a very exciting and positive development and opportunity. I particularly enjoy providing post adoption support and have found that working alongside parents in the group has been a profoundly positive experience, hearing adoptive parents share the joys and challenges of nurturing and caring for their adoptive child(ren).
I have been a social worker for twenty years working with children and families in a multiplicity of settings and projects, including schools, high schools and projects within Barnardo’s North West. I have been a qualified play therapist since 2003, when I successfully completed my Post Graduate Diploma in Non-Directive Play Therapy. Since this time I have occupied many different therapeutic and counselling roles. Over the last three years, prior to joining the DFW team, I worked as an independent social worker, focusing my social work and therapeutic services on supporting children and families within the fostering and adoption field. I have become increasingly passionate about therapeutically supporting children who have experienced complex attachment issues and trauma.
I am very excited about working with DFW to provide creative and innovative therapeutic services that will further enhance the wide array of services that DFW is currently providing, and to working with, and learning from, the highly skilled and experienced team here at DFW.
Jenny Parkin — Director
I have worked in adoption for over 30 years, twenty of them as a manager of a Local authority adoption service. I joined DFW adoption in October 2015 as the new part-time director. I have worked with children and families as a social worker since I qualified in 1977 and I have experience of generic social work before specialising in adoption. However once I started working in this field I was hooked!
There is something very special about working in adoption and it is a privilege to have met so many wonderful and special adoptive parents who transform their children’s lives. For a social worker, it is extremely rewarding to see children grow and develop when they move into an adoptive family- experiencing therapeutic parenting in their new family life and when they realise they will never have to move again and that they are truly accepted and belong in their new family. Despite all the difficulties for children and their adoptive parents that the legacy from their pasts creates, the rewards are massive. DFW adoption exists to help and support people to become those parents and to sustain them in their parenting tasks throughout and to help the children and other adults in the adoption jigsaw with the issues that arise. That is why I took up the challenge of this new job.
I have found, since joining the team in October, a fantastic group of committed and dedicated workers focused on bringing excellence to adoption services and they have been so welcoming!
I hope we can together build on the success of the past and the leadership of the previous Director, to take the organisation forward in these changing times and maintain DFW’s role in adoption in the N.E. What a lovely job and a great place to work!
Charles Atkinson — Social Media/Marketing Volunteer
Hi! I have been volunteering at DFW since December 2016, offering my services as a digital marketing assistant and helping to spread word of the great work DFW do to increase their exposure online. I have really enjoyed the work I’ve done here and the team have been great in making me feel welcome and helping me understand the processes involved in running an adoption agency. I look forward to working together with everyone here at DFW
Archana Chandra — Volunteer Social Worker
More about Archana coming soon!