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 don't think You are being self indulgent at all. It's very difficult to talk about these painful things, especially in the circumstances.
You were left to bring up a baby and a SN 4 yo on your own. One day a fortnight isn't a major contribution to co parenting. I'm not sure that someone who has been such a poor parent to the kids he has already is an ideal adoptive parent. But SS will have to make up their own minds on this.
No wonder your mother is bloody annoyed.
Thank you for the responses. I was feeling a little self indulgent and wallowing a bit last night. I've got busy today and its helped me to regain perspective. Writing it down here, even in an indulgent, way helps get it off my chest. I don't want to be that boring person who always has drama in their life so people smile at and avoid.
You are all right about the importance of having the meeting. It was important to express my version of life then. Its now in their domain to deal as they see fit. I do feel comfortable with all I discussed and my own conduct generally through this. I'm happy that the social worker led the discussions and raised the questions that led to her reading his email.
Maybe digging it all up will slowly make me stronger and processing it will enable me to put it behind me. Life is infinitely better now.
Thank you for reading/ listening to me waffling on.
What a totally stressful situation for you. I agree with others that you have totally done the right thing by talking to the SW and raising your concerns. The ball is now in their court.
Sorry it has brought up some old emotions and feelings, I hope you are able to put this behind you.
I'm sorry too, it sounds very stressful. And of course you are worried about the impact on your own children.
I think it sounds very odd to suggest that your ex should stop his children visiting so that his new child can settle in. This would be the case with other family members or neighbours , but not with the newly placed child's siblings. If it all DOES go ahead ( I mean once the couple are matched with a child) you need to query this with the social worker, preferably in writing.
Lots of people who already have children adopt a child and I've never heard of them being asked to keep the child's new siblings away from them until they settle in. It's nonsense.
The fact that the social worker even implied this indicates to me that she is rather inexperienced. That and her apparent dismissal of domestic abuse. I would be suprised if her senior and the panel take it so lightly.
So please try not to worry too much right now, it's far too soon to say that it's definitely going ahead.
I also want to say that you TOTALLY did the right thing in disclosing what has happened with your ex. What SS do with it is up to them. But at least if things go wrong later, you won't feel that you are responsible in any way .
I felt it was implied that its very likely he'll be approved. The interviewing past significant partners etc just throws up questions to discuss and manage them through how it could be handled differently.
She did talk about how the children in care can often have undiagnosed special needs potentially masked by the more apparent ones of attachment issues, so the pressures wouldn't necessarily vary from dealing with our son.
She did mention panel once or twice. I think she was just working through the angles that she'd report it.
Oh, I'm so sorry you've had to go through that. It must have really dragged you back through stuff you are trying to move on from.
Did the sw say she thought he would be approved?
Thank you for the good wishes. I've survived. Its not been fun. The social worker was very professional and on reflection I can see how she carefully judged how to steer conversation to ascertain the information she wanted. We talked a lot about the realities of parenthood and everyday practicalities. I passed her his emails to read. She said she'll have to see how he reacts to her raising it. I did feel like I spent some time almost defending his behaviour, something I'm slightly annoyed with myself about. But generally I think I was reasonably balanced.
It has stirred up some awful things and she asked me to go through step by step what happened when he last assaulted me. It was the one time I lost composure a little. She asked how things ended and all i can remember is standing in the cat litter thinking he'll be gone soon, he'll go soon, I hope the kids are okay. Then he was no longer there, so I unlocked the back door and the kids were just playing happily. They came in, i locked the back door and I ran and locked the front door. I remember getting them to the table then sitting and crying uncontrollably for a while.
Its going to be obvious where the information has come from and he was fully aware she was coming out. I'm not looking forwards to the backlash so again need to have another adult with me for handovers with the DC. She said she wont be seeing him for a few weeks due to various reasons, so it feels a bit like that stress is hanging over us.
Its not good for the boys. It sounds like if a child is placed, very high likelihood due to a serious shortage of adopters, XH will be encouraged to not have the DC in his home for some months to allow the new child to feel settled and secure. When they are introduced it should be very short amounts of exposure.
Whilst my boys dynamic with the new family is taken into account I interpreted that its the adoptees interests which are paramount to SS so the fact they'll be shoved out of XH's home life is significantly secondary to the fact that a child is better off placed than in the system. I can see that a child would be better placed but a second rejection would be so unfair on my DC.
My mum is spitting nails. It really feels like he can have his cake and eat it. My mum, in her anger, believes he'll get a child, give up on the boys then six months down the line give the adopted child back. Then maybe a year or two down the line start sending solicitors letters to play at being dad again. The courts would no doubt grant him access.
I do feel if he abandons them again, as part of playing the adoption game, thats it. He doesn't get to play anymore. If the DC want contact then I would never stop them and would make it possible for them in transporting etc but it will have to be them led - i will no longer hear anything he says or respond to any communication from him.
Probably I need to stop thinking three steps ahead but I can't think through any positive scenarios where the DC don't end up bruised.
This writing things out is very cathartic.
Hope the meeting goes well, MFMNM
Its got to that stage that I'm meeting with a social worker next week. Its been good to reread the thread, I feel much more composed.
Just got to find that file I prepared and hid because I didn't want the DC stumbling across a list of worst bits
You will need to disclose any abuse towards yourself. If he has history of being abusive the Sw needs to know so that they can assess the risk of this in his current relationship and the potential impact on any child placed for adoption (who may have experienced domestic violence in their birth family).
Tbh based on what you are saying he isn't looking great at all as a potential adoptive parent but all you can do is be honest and leave that decision up to the social worker and panel.
I'd tell the truth about your experiences of him - not wanting kids.
It's not fair on any potential children if you don't.
I think what your lawyer meant was that even if your ex had abused you, the court would not consider this a reason to stop his contact with the children . For some unknown reason, the courts seem to feel that the abuse of partners is not related to the abuse of kids ( despite some evidence to the contrary )
However SS should ask you about any abuse towards you . It's not about dragging it up. It's because the best predictor of someone's future behaviour is not their words, it's their past behaviour .
I'm sorry, I guessed this might be an issue for you
Thank you all. It has helped more than you can imagine to be able to just talk frankly without worry about offending or dragging up old emotions.
I'm more together with it all now. I had a lovely day with the children yesterday, the sun shone and the house is very tidy due to me needing to keep so busy on Saturday to work it all through in my mind.
KristinaM can I ask about the abusive to me bit? When I divorced the solicitor told me that courts were only interested in abuse of the children when it comes to custody etc and other abuse was not really deemed relevant. We never actually went to court over custody so it didn't get pursued. I know this is rather different because its purely about him and his future but would they really want to drag any of that up?
It seams that the way things are handled vary a bit from area to area but the consistency that brings me most relief is it appears that I will be contacted before the DC so I can play my mum card and help support them through the process, should it be necessary for them to become involved.
I feel relieved of pressure that any decision is mine. So I've printed out relevant email exchanges, created a simple paper file and I will await contact.
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?
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,
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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