Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.
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Forced Adoption(191 Posts)
Hi, I'm new to this and wanted to talk about this upsetting situation. Where to start...I will try to make this long story as brief as possible...
My sister's little boy was taken into care a while back due to her drinking and drug use although she always made sure the little one was well looked after. What we thought was a temporary thing has turned into a long drawn out nightmare. The social services are now trying to place him for adoption against her will. My sister dearly wants to be given a chance but the social services are not interested and she hasn't been given any support, just talked down to and belittled. None of the family are in a position to help and I would love to take the child on but my husband is not on board with it so I haven't been able to pursue. I was able to visit him recently and can see he is a very sad and confused child. He loves his mum to bits and they have a lovely bond and it was heart-breaking to hear his foster carer telling him "when you go to your new mummy and daddy". I think it's heartless to tell a young child who is clearly missing his mother that they will be going to a new family. I cannot forget the sadness in his eyes as we said goodbye. Yes my sister has done silly things but she is still young and keeping her away from her child is destroying her. I hate the way SS have handled the whole thing and told lies and had no compassion. They have far too much power and are playing with people's lives. I don't know how they can sleep at night. I understand they have to protect children but how many times have they got it wrong? I am sure with the right support my sister can turn things around but I fear time is running out. Has anyone had a similar experience or any advice?
Not wishing to be unhelpful, but removing a child is absolutely the last resort for social services and they will have explored everything they can before this point - including helping your sister to turn things around.
Syd35 it is good for your sister that she has you as a support. I don't know anything about the situation but I would imagine your sister has a social worker, can she talk to them?
I am sure it feels very, very difficult for her and also for you, to be in the middle of this, and for all concerned.
I would imagine it is very difficult for social services, they must also feel caught in the middle, when things go wrong in any direction they get in trouble at work, in the media etc and of course they also must live with all the decisions they make. I can't imagine how difficult it is to make those kind of decisions.
I am sorry I can't offer any advice but just wanted to say that you are obviously very caring wanting to help and I hope you will find some way to help your sister and nephew for whatever is for the best.
I'm sorry your family is going through this and I'm not sure that there is anything constructive I can add. If she can afford it comsulting a family solicitor would obviously be the sensible thing to do.
You say "I am sure with the right support my sister can turn things around but I fear time is running out" - to be honest yes it is - if your Dnephew has been in care "a while" then social services will be concerned that he needs a permanent home and the longer he stays in care the more difficult he will be to place. The sad fact is that whilst social services do sometimes get it wrong when removing a child IMVHO they far more often get it wrong when leaving a child in their home.
I don't know what support (if any) your sister has had to deal with her alcohol and drugs problem but if she has had any at all and has failed to deal with it then I suspect that she won't be offered more. Help like this is in short supply and it is often a one shot deal as a result.
You are obviously very upset by the situation and I do feel for you and your sister but I think your comment "Yes my sister has done silly things but she is still young and keeping her away from her child is destroying her" misses the point. The "silly" things she did obviously had a noticeable effect for anyone to even get social services involved (they don't have the manpower to get involved willy nilly in every small issue in every childs life) and sadly for your sister SS are not concerned with her and how its affecting her but the risk to the child. Of course he is missing her and is sad - it doesn't necessarily follow that he is better off staying with her.
she caused the problem that caused social services to get involved, there's no point trying to blame them for a situation your sister created.
If there is any chance she can clean up her act up then you obviously need to fight for that as hard as you can and try getting some free advice if possble from a lawyer.
I'm not a huge fan of John Hemming MP's approach but he may be able to point your sister in the direction of a lawyer who can help her.
I don't think that SS remove children willy nilly. I'm sure your sister has good intentions with regard to bringing up her son but unless and until she is able to actively implement them, her intentions do not help the child at all. The SS have the child's best interests at heart. They have probably spent a long time assessing your sister's abilities as a parent and unfortunately have decided that she is not up to it, and that the child would be better off in a more stable environment. I can see that you have your sister's best interests at heart, and truly this is an awful situation for you all to be in, but she is the adult in this scenario and her son needs loving and protecting.
Obviously the best solution in this awful situation may have been a family adoption or fostering, but you say that the family is unable to take the little boy. The conclusion therefore is that another adoptive family is the going to be the best option for delivering stability and the right sort of care.
These days, adoptions can be open, which means that unless serious harm would befall the child from seeing their birth family, they arrange for access visits.
Has your sister made any attempts to give up drinking/drug taking since her son went into care?
What has your sister done to comply with what is required of her?
Given up drinking/drugs?
Always been on time for contact time ?
gone to a parenting course?
Thanks everyone for your comments. Italian Greyhound thanks especially for your kind words.
It's good to get an opinion from people who are not involved. I am probably too close to the situation to be a bit more impartial.
I am not blaming SS but I really don't think they have handled the situation in the best way. It's hard for other people to understand without knowing the full story I guess.
I haven't been particularly close with my sister in recent years but I can't help caring about the awful mess she's got herself into and I really pray for a positive outcome for everyone.
Thanks Duchesse for mentioning about open adoption, I will try to find out more as it would be some comfort to at least know how his life is going if it does end up in adoption.
Thanks again for taking the time to post your comments.
"I can't help caring about the awful mess she's got herself into" - of course you do but be careful that in your desire to make things better for her that you make things worse for your son.
It is very difficult for most caring (extended) families to accept that a child might be better off raised by someone else. Love sadly is not always enough.
Even non-open adoptions these days have an element of contact eg yearly letters though you are rather dependent on the adoptive family's good will to keep them going.
oops "her" son obviously not yours
Once your sister has a solicitor she can through them appy under section 38 of the childrens act for an independant assessment, however this will only be considered if she has made changes with regards to her life style, and whether independant assessment centres who often read through the court bundles agree that your sister has made sufficient changes to warrant a further assessment.
This is so sad, is there really no one in the (extended) family who could take on this poor little boy?
Syd35 - they now try and maintain some kind of contact with a child's birth parent if they are not considered to be a risk. Even if she is not granted formal contact, then your sister would normally have letterbox contact where she and her son can exchange letters and cards.
Obviously the best way of ensuring that she gets either direct or indirect contact is to get off the drink and drugs if she can.
I'm so sorry - this must be terribly hard for you.
I would suggest looking at the Fassit website as a start. She can get free legal advice from Ian Josephs - see the Forced Adoption website.
Both websites also have forums where you can share information with parents in similar situations. The parents on this board are mostly approved for adoption and are understandably uncomfortable with the idea that adopted children might be more suitably placed with their birth parents.
Good luck and work quickly, if the SS believe that she is getting help in making a case then they'll try to push the adoption through as quickly as possible.
benignsign - Thank you for the links, they look like really comprehensive resources and I will have a good read tonight. A quick glance has made me realise how many other people are going through similar situations.
"The parents on this board are mostly approved for adoption and are understandably uncomfortable with the idea that adopted children might be more suitably placed with their birth parents."
No, that isn't true - there are very few adoptive parents who don't believe that their childrens lives would be infinitely simpler if they could have stayed with their birth parents.
Adoptive parents tend to be more cautious about the idea that any adoption where the birth parents contest it is a miscarriage of justice because they have more experience than most of dealing with the real problems of children caused by the birth parents - not by social services or foster parents or by the adoptive parents but by the birth parents. Many many of whom contested the adoption.
I'd be happy for you to point out which adoptive parent on this thread is saying that there should not be a chance for birth families to stay together where possible. I don't think from the information given (or probably even the information the OP knows as I doubt that her sister has given her the full story as human nature is to present yourself in the best light possible) anyone is able to advise the OP on what might be best for the child in this circumstance.
In my experience adoptive parents are very supportive to all parties of the adoption triangle on mumsnet and I'd be surprised if you found otherwise (though of course its possible as I haven't read every single adoption thread over the life of MN!). Some AP's are remarkably tolerant of BP's and maintain contact with them despite some appalling behaviour and significant damage to the children that they are raising.
Syd, can I just add a word of warning here, for you personally. If you aren't in a position to take in the child, please try not to get too emotionally involved in this. It may be counter-productive to give your sister too much hope. At this moment in time, she should be putting all her efforts into sorting herself out - that is the first step and one which you may be able to help her with. If she cannot sort out her addiction issues it really isn't in her (or her child's) best insterests to stop any possible placement for the child.
You say that social services have told lies. Do you know this for a fact, or has your sister told you? I have (unfortunately) experience of living with an addict, and if your sister is still using you need to be very careful how much of what she tells you that you believe.
The interests of the child must come first here. Be careful to check that you know what is really going on before you get too involved. And make sure your sister doesn't make you feel guilty for not taking her son. I am sure your reasons are valid.
I also second what Kewcumber says about adoptive parents on here. I doubt there is one of us who wouldn't rather our children had the chance to be brought up by loving and able birth parents. Unfortunately it isn't always possible, and sometimes adoptive parents really have to cope with the fall-out of birth parents who, no matter how much they love their children, really aren't able to care for them.
I absolutely agree with Kewcumber. I have an adopted daughter who is an absolute joy and a blessing. BECAUSE I love her to absolute bits I recognise the very real trauma she has gone through in her short life, not least her separation from her birth mother. BECAUSE I love her I wish she could have stayed with her birth mother.
Her BM is not an evil woman, but a lost and struggling one. I feel sorry for her, and will certainly keep up contact because I feel it's something I can do for her, as well as for my dd.
But I also recognise that, although she did not mean to harm her children, that is exactly what she has done. Terrible, lasting harm. Damaged adults may deserve extra chances and prolonged support to sort themselves out - but not at this ghastly cost to their children. At some stage social services have to decide whether the BP have shown signs that they can change. If they haven't, they must act quickly to save the children from further harm and to find them permanent families before they become unadoptable.
OP, I feel very sorry for you and your sister. I truly do. And I have no idea whether social services have acted appropriately in this case. But you need to understand that at this stage it's not really about your sister and her needs; it's about her little boy. Will he be cared for and protected and loved in the way he deserves if he stays with your sister? If so, go in there and fight for them both. But, if your concern is to keep some comfort and hope alive for your sister, you may need to accept that the situation has gone way beyond that point.
Best of luck to you all.
To clarify Yes I am aware of all the facts and always try to remember that there are 2 sides to every story. I have seen first hand that blatant lies have most definitely been told by SS and whilst I'm under no illusions that my sister's behaviour has started this, I do feel a sense of unfairness - it almost feels like a witch hunt now. If it wasn't for my husband's complete reluctance to get involved I would try my best to have my nephew live with us. This is a great sadness to me but I have to understand and respect my husband's point of view.
Also the SS had already applied previously to the adoption agency and they had declined on the basis that proper procedures weren't followed. They are now in the process of making a further attempt. I hope for a conclusion soon as it has been dragging on for too long.
Thanks to all for listening, your comments have certainly given me food for thought.
You haven't answered people's questions: is your sister still taking drugs and drinking heavily?
I haven't meant to side-step that question. The answer is that she has made progress in tackling her vices but it hasn't been consistent i.e. she has been tested reguarly and hasn't always managed to produce a clean sample. I now expect and await the negative backlash! It's easy to criticise but how many people really understand what it feels like to have an addiction?? I personally find it hard to comprehend as I am her complete opposite and don't even smoke. However, I remain positive that she can turn things around. I'm not making excuses for her but I do realise she feels in a hopeless situation.
no backlash here - and yes sadly I do understand addiction but I'm sure you understand also that whilst she is actively abusing substances that she is unlikely to be trusted to look after her DS and that there is a limited time SS will wait for her because whilst they are waiting her DS is in nomansland.
I also have experience of social workers behaving inappropriately so I'm by no means blind to the issues that can arise. However if your sister is unable to stay clean for the best reason in the world ie to keep her child then how can she be trusted to put her childs welfare first? Most drug/alcohol addicts put their addiction first (by necessity rather than choice) above everything and that will be SS concern (whether that amounts to a witchhunt or not, that is still the concern).
Could your DH be persuaded to foster your DN rather than adopt?
You might also find that (depending on age) the child mind not be very easy to place for adoption so in fact he might spend quite a while hanging around in foster care which isn't really ideal either.
Is your sister having regular contact with him?
I do sympathise with her syd - it must be absolutely terrible to be an addict and I know a bit about it because my 16 year old son is an addict and I feel so sorry for him.
But he has put his addiction above his family, his health, his safety, his little brother's safety (ds2 has been physically threatened by ds1's friends, as well as attacked by ds1), his education and his entire future. I am just thankful that he has no children, because I could not stand up and say he would put a child above his addiction - he just wouldn't/couldn't.
If ds1 did have a child, and the option was for him to be in charge of him/her, or placed for adoption I would go adoption every time. And I love my son, and I'm sure I would love a grandchild, but I couldn't put a small child through what we have been through . So again, I would say to you, be careful. Addicts are manipulative, and you sound a little vulnerable to me.
Don't let yourself and your immediate family be sacrificed on the alter of your sister's addiction. Look after yourself as well.
Thanks kewcumber. Unfortunately DH is of no support to me in this situation and won't be persuaded, believe me I have tried! I haven't really got anyone else to talk to about this as I feel it's a bit of a family secret. Even my mother-in-law doesn't know, when she asks after my sister and DN I have to change the subject as she would be very judgemental. So it's all very frustrating.
Thanks for sharing your story maryz. I'm sorry to hear you are going through problems with your DS, it's not nice seeing those you love ruin their lives. You sound like a very caring mum and I hope things improve for you all. You are right that we have to think of the others this affects. It's my DN I am most upset for, he is a real sweetie and I do lose sleep worrying about how it will all end up.
I wish I could just walk away and leave her to get on with it but I can't. If only I could wave a magic wand and make it all better.
If you find a magic wand send a bit of it this way. I could do with one too.
But ultimately only the addict can decide what is worth giving up their addiction for (iykwim). Someone said to me once that ds has to be more frightened of something else than he is of losing the drugs - he hasn't found it yet. And if for your sister the fear of losing her son isn't enough, then it is unlikely you can find something for her.
You can't save her - she has to save herself. You can support her to do that, but you can't do it for her. Oh, and another thing. It shouldn't be a family secret. You have done nothing wrong. You shouldn't feel ashamed of this. ds thinks we don't know what he does, and for a long time I kept it a secret from wider family (and even myself in a way). The best thing I have done is start to talk about it. It is still very hard, especially with the guilt I feel as a parent. But I have to be honest if I ever expect him to be.
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