ExH and his new wife are going to adopt. Don't know how to process this.(65 Posts)
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.
I love mumsnet. A few hours ago this felt enormous and I didn't know how to move forward.
Now when DH gets home I don't need to just blurt it out and the DC overhear. I can wait till wine o clock mention it, and the way I'd like to proceed.
I need to sign off for a few hours to do tea and pick up DS2 from his cousins house.
But many thanks all.
And one other thing (sorry ;) )
You worry about using up their resources. Just... don't. I believe they'd much rather do things properly now than have to deal with the fall-out of wrong decisions.
We worried about having an initial interview (about our intentions to be assessed as adopters) with a local authority when we were fairly sure already that we were going to go with another LA. It meant a 2 hours meeting, for two quite senior people, at our house so add quite some travel time to that, in effect probably totalling out at over 6h working time (3h each). We nearly cancelled to save them their time. But a friend pointed out, hang on, you're worrying about using up 6h of their time when in the end it is a decision that will affect the rest of your lives. So we didn't cancel (and are glad we didn't as we will now likely be going with them). Similarly, the decisions these SW will be making will be life-changing and have life-long effects for your XH, his wife, and any children they might be matched with at some point... they will WANT to get as much information as they can.
Can I suggest you don't say anything to your sons, or to their school for the moment.
They are at the very beginning of assessment - it will be years before they get to actual placement (if they ever do), so raising it as a possibility especially with ds1 at this stage isn't necessary.
It's worth making the point that people do change a lot. If your ex is good with ds1 now, the fact that he couldn't cope six years ago is much less relevant than if he couldn't cope now, if that makes sense.
I have been a much better mother to ds2 (who has some behavioural issues) than I was to ds1 (who has a diagnosis of AS). ds1 would say that I hit him, that I tried to break his arm, that I got very, very angry with him at times. Subjectively he is correct - he was very frustrating to deal with and the arm incident was when I had to grab him. I have bruised him when trying to get him to dress/stay on the path/move out of a doorway/whatever.
I think facts are more important than your (or even ds1's) opinions.
So I think a written report very like your op but without the paragraph about being scared of how he will react would be a very fair way to describe things.
Can I ask a question - if you found out his new partner was pregnant, would you have any concerns for the baby? Would those concerns be strong enough for you to consider contacting social services? Or would you think they would (as a couple) be fine as parents? Because it would be tough to stand in their way of adopting if you think they would be ok as parents to a child born to them. The social workers doing the assessment will stress the particular challenges involved in adopting, and will take his relationship with your boys into consideration.
They don't really want you opinion as such, just a factual record of when and how your relationship broke down, and how he is as a father to his children.
I take your comments about then and now. Not coping then and having developed skills and maturity now are very relevant, so factual presentation and a timeline are important.
Autism does stretch degrees of sanity. I totally get what you're saying about dragging out the road. DS1 still believes he would tell the car off if it hits him when he steps out in front of it. He can recite the highway code but can't understand he doesn't rule the road and drivers need time to react etc.
I don't accept the over restraint of our then three year old very will full son, but its not on a par by a long way with an unprovoked violent assault on a child. This is why I tried to express context of bruising in the op and not pretend he's the big bad wolf.
The way its been presented to me by XH is that social workers will want to talk to me and the DS's fairly soon. Placement around next summer is whats been implied, again by XH. Its my understanding that talking to the DC's is part of the assessment process as to whether they're suitable so, unfortunately as the situation currently presents, we can't avoid not telling them until placement is happening.
I'm happy to be corrected if people can advise of a way round keeping the DC out of the process.
When they found out some years ago that they were expecting a child and members of my family suspected, it was their intention to contact social services about concerns for the childs welfare. I didn't finish rationalising it when she sadly lost the baby. (Something I expressed my sympathies and support for when the subject was raised last year as I lost several pregnancies in very quick succession before my DD was born). But its a good question and my concerns for a naturally conceived child would be sufficient for me to interfere.
However, I'm not choosing to interfere here. I've been told I will be contacted. I've been told social services will need to visit the children. I think its right to be truthful but to try to limit any emotion and keep to facts.
Hopefully i can just write a brief comment, a paraphrase of the op, about the end of the relationship and about his now positive relationship with the DC.
Oh goodness, i've just reread the thread and the paragraph about a naturally conceived child should read I wouldn't interfere, or contact anyone with concerns.
Anything I do in writing will definitely be proof read!
Good luck MisForMumNotMaid I think people have given some great advice. All I would say is tell the truth and let the social workers and social services do their job. They need your input and they will value it. You will most certainly not be wasting anyone's time or resources.
Remember that social services also have a duty of care to your children. You can explain to them your desire to keep things harmonious between yourself and xdh, and they should handle that sensitively.
Remember that the sw will already have asked your ex about his existing children and his relationship with him, why his marriage broke up, his parenting style, how he supported his children throughout break-up and beyond, how he handled your son's autism etc. So if they cite these things as reasons for not proceeding you will not have been the person to bring them up (and they won't say, "Mis told us x").
My sw didn't tell us one word of what any of our referees said about us. Hope that helps to reassure you.
If you meet with the SW they will ask you if there is anything you've discussed that you don't want shared with your ex. My DP's ex has done this and the SW has said that it's just their opinion and not something that would stop us adopting.
I am a social worker who assesses adoptive parents. I think you sound very reasonable and sensible. If I were you I would ask for the Sw derails and contact them. Imo you need to be involved in how the interviews are managed with your dc, esp given one has sn which your exh may or may not be minimising.
You should also disclose what you have told us including a copy of the email from your exh. This is all relevant info and should be assessed as part of determining his suitability.
Hope is ok please ask if you have any more questions.
Surely you can opt out? For both you and your kids. I think it is not good for you to rake up old ground and really you have quite little to offer in terms of current behaviours
I can understand your reluctance to get involved but there are a couple of other points to consider.
1. Why does he want to adopt? If he struggled with his own son then why does he feel he'll do better for an adopted child?
2. Many adopted children come from difficult backgrounds and have some challenging behaviors. Do you really believe that he has matured enough to deal with this?
You talk about the stress that an autistic child can place on a parent, but a young and vulnerable child who has moved away from the bio family can be even more stressful. I have done teaching and youth work for 30 years, and there are many adoptions that work amazingly well, it there are also plenty where it takes a significant amount of time, effort and support before some kind of balanced family life is established.
Please think carefully as his past is relevant, even if it just shows how much he has matured, but as you can make comments anonymously, I think that the full truth is needed here.
Thank you for the additional input.
My head didn't stop spinning last night and sleep was rather limited. DH was surprised I was so calm considering how scarred I used to be of XH. Unfortunately a lot of the old emotion is back, in my tired state today, and going through the old emails is not helping.
The boys are out with their biological dad (XH) today so its my chance to get myself together and then get on with exciting things like planning birthday parties.
I will email XH later and ask for the forwarded social worker details. He has agreed to let me know when they will be seeing the DC.
Good luck. As I said before I do think you should have a chance to speak to the social worker before your dc are interviewed as ultimately it will be you mamaging the fall out, if there is any, and you should be involved in deciding how the subject is broached with them. If I were the social worker in this case I would want to speak to you before the dc.
Hope it goes OK and once it is over with you will feel a real sense of peace. Although this must be very hard for you it is all part of the process to access your DH and his partner for adoption and your input will be very useful.
You won't be able to do it in writing, they will want to meet with you and your DH.
You are not interfering, Your ex and his DW knew that you and your children would be involved in the adoption process. This was their choice not yours
Please don't tell your children right now.the timescale of a placement next summer sound very unlikely to me. If SS decide to go ahead and assess your ex and his DW, they will want to speak to your children as part of this. But that's probably much further down the line. Things are just at a very early stage right now ,it's not definite that this will go ahead, wherever your ex says .
Your ex will have to persuade SS that he is a good parent to his existing children. They will make their own decision based on the facts, which they will get from many sources, not just you. You are just one part of the jigsaw of information which they will collect, so Please don't feel responsible for anything except telling them the truth as you see it.
I just spotted what you said about your ex letting you know when SS will see the kids
That's not how it works. Ss will write to you and ask for a meeting. They should indicate what kind of things they want to ask you about and explain its confidential .
They will meet with you and your Dh at your home (if that suits you ) . There will probably be two of them and they will take notes. You can ask them about how and when you and your children will be involved in the process
Much later down the line, when they have decided if they are going to proceed with the assessment, SS will talk to you about how and when to best discuss it with the kids, since you are the parent with residence.
They will meet with one or both of the children with you /your Dh/another family member present ( not your ex or his partner) . Your input into this bit is very important, especially as your DS has SN. You need to agree with them on how to best meet your sons needs in this regard. As others have said, they have a duty of care to your children too.
I don't think they can have any idea now when they might be placed.
He is having assessment now, which should take less than 6 months end to end. If they are approved to adopt then they have to wait for an appropriate match. That wait is as long as a piece of string. They could be matched the day they are approved, or 3 years later (or not at all).
You will need to meet SW in person. They are very unlikely to take a written reference from an ex wife with whom he had children. It's too important.
You need to say about the issues coping with DS1 before he left.
You need to say how he interacts now, to the best of your knowledge.
If asked, you need to say if you have concerns regarding them adopting. If you have concerns on how he might cope with a child with SEN, you need to say so. You can balance that with the fact he is coping with contact. It is up to the SWs to judge how valid your concerns are now, that's their job.
They will almost certainly want to talk to your children at some point. If you think it unadvisable for your DS1 then you should say so.
Be as fair minded as you can, that's all anyone can expect.
Also, of course they will need to assess how your ds's SN will impact on a newly adopted sibling and importantly, vice-versa how an adopted sibling (perhaps also with SN) may impact on your ds. They wont just be assessing what type of a parent would xh be to an adopted child but also what type of child would fit that family.
I suppose that for your ds's' sake you need to give a full and honest answer to their questions.
I also think it would be better all around to speak to them face to face, as you can't know exactly what they will want to ask you, and what they might want to ask for more information on. It will make the process better. But there's no reason why you can't prepare something in writing as a starting point, and that might help you feel more at ease in the meeting.
I forgot to add they will ask you if your ex was abusive to you, not just to the children . Just to warn you. They ask everyone this.
You know, you do not need at all to cover for EX.
Just tell them what you wrote in your OP.
You are not responsible for his future. Only yours and DCs.
I am a sw who does these assessments in my job. We send a written reference form out to ex partners and would interview them if necessary.
Imo you have been v balanced and that is what they are looking for.
Be honest, stick to the questions they ask and try not to stray into other discussions show how in your pinion things were difficult but also how they have changed.
When we adopted SW did not speak to DH's ex even though they share a child that we had access visits every weekend. I don't recall them even asking, although they might and we possibly truthfully said we didn't think it would be a good idea or something we would be comfortable with.
Disclaimer - I do not work in SS so this is based on assumptions.
I woukd have thought that any DCs placed with your Ex for adoption are likely to have some emotional and behavioural issues. Perhaps not as pronounced as your DS's autism, but challenging nonetheless.
I woukd have thought that your Ex is very unlikely to be approved for adoption if he left bruises on his son. It says something about how he copes with challenging behaviour.
So, if you see SS and tell them the truth, I assume he is unlikely to be approved.
I woukd have that conversation with him - that you will give your time and meet with them, but that you will not lie, and let him take it from there,
I am fairly sure it is compulsory now for assessing SWs to meet with ex husbands /wives, especially those who are co parents . The only exception would be if it was a short marriage many years ago or other extenuating circumstances .
This is because there was a sad case when a child placed for adoption was killed by the adoptive father. It turned out that he had been very violent in former relationships but SS had not contacted his ex partners.
So I'm not sure that just saying " I don't think it's a good idea" is an option these days. You would have to have a very good reason and , I suspect, be able to evidence this.
Also not sure how a child could be interviewed as part of the assessment without the consent of the PWR?
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