ExH and his new wife are going to adopt. Don't know how to process this.

(65 Posts)
MisForMumNotMaid Fri 04-Oct-13 15:24:57

Just received an email from XH he and his wife are in the adoption process social services and the authorities will want to talk to me and his two biological DC.

They were 1 and 3 when he upped and left. He was having an affair and left us well below the poverty line. He, so he now tells me, was in a very dark place. At the time he said that he'd never wanted to be stuck with a family (he hadn't worked for years and having DC was his way of staying home and being house husband). Our elder son is very challenging. He's Autistic. Not diagnosed at the time but was in the process of assessment. His inappropriate emotional reaction combined with xH's depression and short fuse resulted in DS1 being quite heavily bruised. It got so bad that a foutnight before he left I begged my parents to take DS1 for a few days to give them a break from each other.

I don't know why I didn't kick him out. I don't know why I tried to find peaceful resolution all the time but emotionally and physically I was exhausted (DS2 was 1 and hadn't slept for more than 2 hrs continuously since birth). Anyway, the sitauation suddenly resolved because it turned out his increased detachment from the family wasn't just depression it was an affair and they both left their marriages to be together.

It took time for him to accept you can't just check out of financial and emotional responsibility for DC. His parents and wider family have been good.

Role on 6 years he sees the DC every fourtnight for a day and pays 20% earnings, based on what he earned when we divorced. This works. The DC's have a positive relationship with him and we are civil to each other. He's never been badmouthed in my earshot so the DC have largely been protected from the true situation. DS1 who remembers so many details of events appears to have no recollection of this dark time.

I don't want to upset the status quo. Things are good. I'm remarried the boys have a little sister. DS1 is statemented and in special school (DH still calls it very mild Autism though). The boys have a positive relationship with their biological dad and a dad at home that has supported them for the last four years.

So what happens now? What do I actually say to who ever contacts me?

I guess I am still a bit bitter about his behaviour at the time of leaving but time has passed and he does now put the effort in once a fourtnight with the DC.

I don't excuse the bruising but dealing with an Autistic child who laughs as he's kicking and hitting you (hard) whilst you try and dress him, day after day, is extreme pressure.

I've always found email an effective way to communicate with XH. I have an email from him admitting his physical behaviour so it isn't just a twisted bitter memory, unfortunately.

I'm also scared that if I tell the truth and he finds out he'll somehow decide to have a battle for more access to the DC to get me back. Not to the benefit of the DC and him wanting them or him actually using any access that he was awarded.

I feel better for just writing it down.

Any pointers or views to help me process these feelings greatly appreciated.

nkf Fri 04-Oct-13 15:29:10

What a terrible situation. Can you not refuse to be involved? They can't force you to be interviewed, can they?

mamaslatts Fri 04-Oct-13 15:30:18

I think all you can do is give the SW the info you have given here, which you seem to have been balanced about - you've detailed his bad behaviour but also how things have been more positive. Your ex h and his wife will probably be adopting a quite vulnerable child, possibly with some challenging behaviour due to the difficulties they have been through. Everyone involved deserves to have the whole picture.
I would be surprised if at this time he would start to bugger around with access purely because I doubt his wife is in the place where she wants to start playing these kinds of games.

NatashaBee Fri 04-Oct-13 15:34:49

I think you have put it very well here, without badmouthing anyone. Whilst your ex has fulfilled his 'duty' of keeping up contact every couple of weeks and paying child support, it will take a whole lot more effort on his part to parent a child full time, who may have come from a troubled background and have special needs. Do you really think he's up to that? I think at the very least, SS should hear what you've said above so they can probe further into whether he really thinks he's up to adopting.

eatyourveg Fri 04-Oct-13 15:43:33

Just tell them exactly what you said here.

MisForMumNotMaid Fri 04-Oct-13 15:48:05

Oh, responses. Thank you.

I would love to just avoid but wouldn't that just throw up questions in the process?

Regarding how he'd deal with challenging behaviour, I just don't know.

With DS1, DS2 is very good at managing him. He often takes the lead when I'm not around, like when they used to be at school together. He knows how to help avoid tricky situations with his brother and steers his dad. I just don't know how much management of DS1 is DS2 and how much is his dad - this is the kind of area where I don't know if its bitterness and assumption on my part.

He's only lost his temper with DS1 a hand full of times, that DS1 has told me about, over the last 6 years. No occasions have resulted in physical harm.

EllaMenOhPea Fri 04-Oct-13 15:55:04

You don't have to decide whether he's up to it, the SW will. So just tell the story as you've told it here, and she or he will be able to use the information as they see fit, together with all if the other background info they have,

BettyBotter Fri 04-Oct-13 15:58:43

You will be an extremely important person that social worker will want to talk to as you share dcs with him. They may take what you say with a pinch of salt if you come across as a the bitter ex but they will be very concerned to hear about xh's aggression and inability to deal with the stress of a dc with special needs.

You must tell the truth - both the good and the bad.

apatchylass Fri 04-Oct-13 16:01:12

That's a very tough situation for you to get involved in, but morally, I think you have to be honest with SW about his dereliction of duty with his birth children, and also that he didn't handle the stress of a demanding child. A lot of adoptive children come with deep rooted problems. They aren't necessarily going to be easier to care for than his own son who he has already failed.

It's not just about potentia physical harm. It's about emotional stability and his ability to be there for a child over the course of his or her entire childhood. He sounds like a poor candidate for that responsibility based on his track record with you and his DC.

Thatsnotmychicken Fri 04-Oct-13 16:04:59

I agree tell exactly like you have here. SS know that ex partners can have difficult relationships and will take any subjective feelings into account. They and your exh need to work out how he can manage his feelings effectively if he is going to adopt as adopted children will challenge parents. When we adopted we weren't even told if they had been able to make contact with our ex partners let alone what they said although this may be different if they need to discuss any issues that are brought up. Also I personally wouldn't feel right not saying anything. Imagine if anything did happen, I'd feel terrible.

Meita Fri 04-Oct-13 16:11:12

I think prospective adopters who have ex-es are always at least a bit worried about what their ex will say about them. The SW will really want to talk to you and the kids. But they will also be aware that whatever you say is a) just your side of the story, b) possibly clouded by bitterness resulting from your break-up, leading you to remember negative bits but not so much the positive, and c) possibly an attempt at revenge on your part, if you felt wronged and are still carrying those feelings with you. So the SW if they are doing their job well, will never take what you say as the whole truth at face value. They will however take whatever you tell them as starting points for talking to your Ex about his suitability to adopt in general, and about what kinds of children he/they feel able to care for.
Accordingly I think you should just tell them what you think, what you remember, and then let them do their job - assessing your ex on the basis of their professional judgement.
What you tell them won't make or break your Ex' adoption plans. His reaction to the SWs' probing questions might.
It's luckily not your decision if your Ex should be approved to adopt or not. So just tell them what they want to know and they will form their own opinion. Even if they ask you, do you think he should be approved to adopt, and you say no, that doesn't mean he won't be able to; so if that is what you think, by all means do say it to them.

MisForMumNotMaid Fri 04-Oct-13 16:11:54

You're absolutely right its not my decission.

I'd just love to not have to drag it all up. Its taken so long to reach this level of stability.

I do agree about truth. I just feel that truth can be spun in so many ways and i'm realising in writing it down I'm not fully objective. A good social worker will have seen it all before, and sort the wood for the trees.

I just don't want my rambling to create extra work for an overstretched service. Or if I'm honest to feel responsible for causing difficulties in their adoption process.

I know I'm rambling here but its helping me to process it and hopefully in real life I'll be able to feel happy with how I behave.

Meita Fri 04-Oct-13 16:12:42

Gah, lots of x-posts mean my post is quite redundant, sorry.

starfishmummy Fri 04-Oct-13 16:16:45

Would they accept something in writing, along the lines of what you have posted here, if you don't want to meet with SS face to face.

It might also be worth talking to them regarding your son - I am sure they would be sensitive when talking to a child, particularly one with additional needs, but it might just be worth letting them know the extent of the autism, particularly if your ex is underplaying it.

Moomoomie Fri 04-Oct-13 16:19:31

You have put it so well in your thread, that I agree you should say the same to the SW. I expect they will just want you to write as opposed to meet with the SW.
It is very important that the SW has all the facts so they can take the correct information to panel.
Yes, it will be slightly more work, but that is what an assessment is all about.
It would be worse if an adoption placement broke down because the facts etc were not known.

Tommy Fri 04-Oct-13 16:22:58

the SW will be ready for anything. I was interviewed when my brother and SIL were adopting and I practically had a counselling session with the SW about our family life as children!
They don't make any comment or judgement - just listen and write it all down.

TheFabulousIdiot Fri 04-Oct-13 16:24:37

Do you speak to your EXDH now? Could you tell Him everything you have said here?

MisForMumNotMaid Fri 04-Oct-13 16:32:25

No posts are redundant. I'm very grateful for all thoughts.

Something in writing is a great idea. I'm such a wimp.

DS1 has a great support team via his school and I will find a quiet moment with them to discuss how it could be handled with him, they will no doubt have seen introduction of a new family member many times before. The thing is it isn't really my news to share. Its mine to manage once its out.

But maybe careful management of XH and the school offering to support, which I'm sure they will, will help cut me out the loop a little and ensure that DS1 gets objective support without any unnecessary bitterness creeping in from me digging up the past.

He handled the birth of his little sister very well. He couldn't understand why when he'd counted out places at the table and got an extra chair in, with his grandparents supervision, she didn't sit at the table and use the knife and fork he'd put out. He still thinks that it was odd she didn't when we giggle about it now.

Hopefully he'll be very matter of fact about it. It is a lovely thing for people to open their home to a vulnerable child. There are many positive things I can think to say once he knows.

MisForMumNotMaid Fri 04-Oct-13 16:38:58

I do talk to XH every week. We talk about the DC. We talk about their planned activities, the clothes they'll need, any behavioural issues, any issues that have arisen at school, any health issues.

Talking about what went on within our long ended marriage isn't something I feel I could table without risking the equilibrium we've found. But maybe he's made the decision that these things now need to be processed and discussed.

juneau Fri 04-Oct-13 16:39:20

I would just be honest - that's all you can do. He'll know that you're going to be interviewed and I'm sure he will expect you to be honest.

Also, just because he's not always behaved perfectly in the past it doesn't mean he and his wife won't be able to adopt. How many of us, who are perfectly decent parents, have had moments when we've actually been rather crap? All of us, I'm guessing.

juneau Fri 04-Oct-13 16:42:07

Also, mentioning that he doesn't do too well with a child who has issues such as those your DS has, may help SS to place an appropriate child with them. Quite frankly though, I'm a bit hmm at them adopting a
DC from local authority care if he's not too good at dealing with challenging issues, as it's my impression that DC don't tend to get placed with SS unless they've had a pretty awful home life previously - and that's bound to have repercussions.

MisForMumNotMaid Fri 04-Oct-13 16:54:46

I'm along way from perfect. I'll just depress myself if I list my faults though(and thats just those I acknowledge and know about) .

You're quite right.

None of us are perfect. People do mature and can learn by experience.

So sofar...

I need to be honest

I need to see if I can be honest in writing.

I need to stick to the simple facts.

I need to enquire with DS1's school if they can assist with support.

Likewise DS2's school.

I need to stop behaving like I'm all powerful and its actually in my control or responsibility to be involved in any decission.

What have I missed?

Meita Fri 04-Oct-13 16:57:11

in response to juneau, OPs XH might be at a very different place now. So as that his experience with a special needs child, albeit only on weekends, might stand him in good stead now. He'd go into it with eyes wide open and knowing what to expect, and with strategies in place for if he should find himself struggling.
That's exactly why it's good that SS and not us here are assessing this man. They will most likely go through these points again and again and really try to get to the bottom of it, and then they might decide that this man can't be trusted to hold up well under challenging circumstances, or they might decide that this man has made some bad choices in his past but has come a long way since then, and these experiences have in effect made him stronger and more capable to deal with extra challenges. Who knows. I'm glad it's not me who has to decide who gets to be approved to adopt and who doesn't.

Meita Fri 04-Oct-13 17:01:10

One thing. I believe whatever you tell a SW about your XH will be strictly confidential. XH and new wife will be able to read the full report their SW writes about them, EXCEPT references such as yours.

HavantGuard Fri 04-Oct-13 17:08:52

'I've always found email an effective way to communicate with XH. I have an email from him admitting his physical behaviour so it isn't just a twisted bitter memory, unfortunately.'

Show that to the SW.

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