LA won't support us through to approval panel

(30 Posts)
Trealop Mon 23-Jun-14 12:59:42

Hi

I would appreciate some advice. DP and I are over halfway through the second stage of approval process with our LA. They have now told us that we can go to panel if we wish, but they will not support us. They have suggested that we withdraw. sad

I'm really upset and don't know where to go from here. The reasons that they're giving for not supporting us are facts that we made clear right from the start (matters that really should not be an issue IMO). It feels as if we've been led to believe that everything was going along fine, only to be told at this late stage that they're pulling the plug.

I'm wondering whether it would be worth applying through a different LA or even a VA? What are the chances of success? Would a failure with one LA mean a 'black mark' against us?

lougle Mon 23-Jun-14 13:00:46

What sort of issues are they?

Trealop Mon 23-Jun-14 13:20:00

Basically DP has a bad memory. He has always had a bad memory. It doesn't really affect his day to day life too much though - he's just a bit rubbish at remembering to do things and planning stuff.

The issue for the SWs seems to be that he doesn't have many memories from his childhood. So when he did the one-to-one session about his upbringing, he didn't have much to say. They seem to think he's either repressed something traumatic, or is hiding something? But right from the start DP mentioned that he might have problems recalling childhood stuff (he even made a few jokes about it!) - the SWs didn't make anything of it then.

lougle Mon 23-Jun-14 13:37:42

Ah is see. Does he have memories spontaneously when he's not under pressure? Or does he genuinely not have any memories?

Methren Mon 23-Jun-14 13:47:23

I'm not an adopter so can't advise from that point of view, but regarding your DP's bad memory:

- Has he ever had this investigated medically? If his long-term recall (memory for past events) has always been poor there could be an underlying medical reason for this, such as a brain injury around the time of birth, or an episode of encephalitis (viral brain infection) or head injury in childhood. If he has not had this looked into before and it is proving a major hurdle for your LA, I would suggest seeing his GP to ask for a referral to a neurologist or cognitive psychologist. A specialist will be able to test his memory (and other brain functions) in a detailed way and generate a report for your LA. Psychogenic amnesia (loss of memory due to traumatic psychological events) can look quite different to neurological causes of memory loss in detailed memory tests.

- Is your DP better at recalling past events when he has some sort of prompt, such as a photograph? If so, could he ask (maybe with a doctor's letter for support) to repeat the one-to-one session with some photos or objects from his childhood that could act as cues to make it easier to recall specific memories?

HonoraryOctonaut Mon 23-Jun-14 13:51:47

I don't have any experience with adopting but just wanted to sympathise and say that I have a similar thing to your husband, I have very few childhood memories and can only remember little bits when I see a photograph or my memories are like snap shots, still with no emotions attached. It's awful. Especially as I can no longer remember my 12 and 10 year olds as babies. I have no idea why I'm like this.

buggerboooo Mon 23-Jun-14 13:54:49

I too have a hard/impossible time remembering things from my past. I did get worried that i might have been repressing bad memories

mumofthemonsters808 Mon 23-Jun-14 14:00:35

My OH has this problem too, he is unable to recall the names of any of his classmates from Primary, holidays he went on as a child, Christmas presents he received. All these type of things are clear as yesterday for me, I think it may be linked to the nervous breakdown he had in his late twenties, it seems to have wiped his memory.

feetheart Mon 23-Jun-14 14:11:06

My sister is like this.
We did have a traumatic event in our childhood as our dad died suddenly when we were 7(me) and 5(her). I always thought it was because she was younger than me when he died that she couldn't remember him but our brother (her twin) has as many memories as me. She also doesn't remember much about her childhood as a whole, its very odd.

excitedmamma Mon 23-Jun-14 14:16:54

I have no childhood memories - they begin at around age 12 - photographs do not stir any prompts.

I have adopted (recently) and used to be a Foster Carer.

I spoke about it to our SW in a very matter of fact way - showed that I was once sad, worried & concerned about it... had something happened to make me blot it out? Had done some research into it (good old Mr Google) - but I had "come to terms" with the lack of memories... was sure nothing had happened, there was no trauma, and that I was going to turn it into something positive and ensure my child had plenty of memories - lots of happy times, memory making stuff and a memory box the size of a planet!!

They also spoke to my sibling who thought that basically my lack of memories was that 'we had an uneventful childhood and confirmed there were no issues that I had blocked out'...

Maybe they are worried that he has not come to terms with it, or that there could be an underlying reason, which when dealing with traumatised children, could be brought back to the surface?

It was not an issue for me, at either approval (adoption & fostering) - I guess it is just down to individual SW's and their view on it.

Personally, I would speak to some other LA's or agencies, maybe to BAAF and get some advice on what your options are.

Feel free to pm me if you want to discuss further.

piratedinosaursgogogo Mon 23-Jun-14 14:28:19

Is it worth asking your LA if your husband could talk to a different SW with a different 'questioning style'? For the reason I suggest this, is that we had exactly the same issue with our home study in terms of my dh recalling childhood memories. We were told it didn't matter but it clearly did, as when we got to panel we were 'deferred' and incomplete paperwork was blamed. We were distraught. There were other issues too that we were unhappy about and in the end repeated our home study with an independent sw used by the LA. She just had a different style of questioning and approach, and was able to get many anecdotes about my dh's childhood. My mil sent over photos from my dh's school days, sports clubs, holidays etc and used these as a starting point. As it happens, my dh had a very happy, uneventful childhood.

Kewcumber Mon 23-Jun-14 17:36:05

Certainly I would push through to panel and offer to do whatever counselling or therapy they suggest. In my experience they have suggested that you pull out becuase they have other concerns on top or the memory issues - it may or may not be linked to the memory issue but are taking the cowards way out by not discussing it honestly with you. They may have concerns about how your DH is dealing with it or if he is being reserved, whether he is being honest with them. I would push them to be honest as it will come out in the appeal so they may as well be honest now.

I know a couple who decided to not go to panel in a similar situation and that was the end of the road. SW decided the DH was gay (married 20 years but very quiet and reserved) and in denial. As far as we/they knew there were no grounds to suggest this but how do you prove something you aren't? In the end the DW decided to call it a day as she felt she couldn't drag her DH through the mess of going to panel and appealing

If you get to panel and are turned down, there is a procedure to appeal. If you don't get to panel - no procedure.

Alternatively you can discuss changing LA/VA although you will have to declare this assessment and what happened. You might want to consider telling the adoption manager that you will be proceeding to panel either with them or a different LA and is there anything you can do as a couple to move forward with them at this point. Then talk to a few other LA's and tell them the situation and find out if they are interested.

Kewcumber Mon 23-Jun-14 17:38:40

And I think your DH needs to find something to say! They can;t assess someone who "didn't have much to say"! I guess that is more their concern than the lack of memory.

SueDNim Mon 23-Jun-14 17:49:17

I find it shocking that SW are allowed to draw a conclusion that sounds so much like pop psychology. I would expect that type of conclusion to be made by an appropriately qualified Psychologist/Psychiatrist.

My DFather has very little recall of his childhood. We have come to the conclusion that he had a childhood where nothing much happened. He lived in the same house throughout, had a well established pattern to each week and went to the same place on holiday each year.

Kewcumber Mon 23-Jun-14 17:56:24

Quite SueDnim, but it does happen. Its not the norm but I have seen it happen.

suzylee73 Mon 23-Jun-14 18:15:41

Seriously there are some social workers out there that are downright stupid. They should be working to help you through your approval and this does not sound reasonable.

I would be tempted to try and agency. I'm not sure how confident I would be at panel with the support of the social worker. They are looking for life experience and if your husband can't remember such things then it does make it harder for them sure but it can be worked through.

Maybe your husband could make some notes on any memories he can remember when not under pressure? They want to hear about how he was parented himself and what he has taken from that into his adult life. Can he remember any pets or loss of grandparents or anything that affected his childhood?

I'm so glad you haven't given up smile

Trealop Mon 23-Jun-14 18:29:02

Thanks for all the responses.

DP had a fairly privileged, uneventful childhood by all accounts. Family have supported this.

He was assessed a couple of years ago when he was finding it hard to keep track of stuff (he was really busy with work at the time), but there was no signs of memory issues or early dementia. I do have to help him with organising some things (he works FT and I'm a SAHM). The SW told us to take some time out recently and consider how we might make this easier....so we did, and we have put in place major changes that will make his work more manageable. But now they're still saying they can't support us because of this memory issue (that we mentioned on the first visit!)

We did ask to speak to another SW but feel they keep on fobbing us off. They seem to be pushing us to drop out sad

Has anybody ever been to panel without the support of a LA and been approved? How realistic is it? Is it a very different process when you're approved via a VA?

I don't have a massively great memory and it was not made an issue of. I sometimes wonder if memories I have are actually memories or the memory of seeing a photo! I mean I know it happened, (Christmas day in the snow in my long dress, us at the seaside, us up a mountain etc) but actually all these things are things I have or had photos of!

Does he have siblings or other relatives who could help to jog family memories.

I agree with Kew this sounds a very spurious reason for saying they will not take you further.

If you and your dh feel there is no issue, there are no 'repressed' memories that counselling would help then I would go to panel and explain your case. If there are any issues at all, I would face these and then face panel. Best of luck.

Sorry Kew did not say " this sounds a very spurious reason for saying they will not take you further." I said it because I meant what she was saying generally.

Do you have children already? Is it anything to do with that aspect of life maybe? I mean that you are already busy etc? Just a thought as you said you were a STAM?

Sorry SAHM!

Final time - Sorry -I meant I agree generally with Kew, sorry my brain is fried today!

roadwalker Mon 23-Jun-14 22:19:13

My DH has a shocking memory and has few memories from his childhood. He did forget a fairly major life event from his teenage years which surprised SW
She did once joke would he remember he had a child but that was all, it didn't stop us being approved and then going on to adopt

odyssey2001 Tue 24-Jun-14 06:59:52

I have a terrible memory and really struggled with some of the childhood questions, especially when it came to my relationships with people. My social worker was frustrated but there was nothing she could do. Didn't affect our application though.

I agree that it sounds like you're social worker fancies themselves an amateur psychologist.

You must insist on a face to face meeting with the service manager. If you don't get anywhere, then write a letter to the head of children's services. I think you may need a new social worker.

Devora Tue 24-Jun-14 10:21:08

I do wonder if the issue might not be so much the poor memory in itself, but how your husband is handling this through home study? Is he reserved and self-contained generally? I'm just picturing a scene where the social worker keeps pressing on, trying to get a sense of this guy, and he's basically sitting back, arms folded, saying, "Nope, can't remember a thing".

Is that at all accurate?

If so, your husband will need to start pro-actively managing the situation. Perhaps he could seek some counselling or a psychiatric assessment? If you are doing all the liaison with social services, could he take over? Perhaps they need to hear that you're really listening to their concerns, and trying to respond to them?

I think it would be worth a try going to panel, but you'll need to really show you're addressing the areas of concern.

Trealop Tue 24-Jun-14 12:56:24

Oh I wish our SW had joked like that Roadwalker sad

Devora, I'm not sure. DP is quieter than me. However, in the one-2-one session there's no way he just sat back and said nothing as he does talk about himself. For example, he's been very open about an episode of depression some years ago, and about attending counselling.

He's actually quite distraught that the 'blame' for our failed attempt to adopt has been put squarely on his shoulders. I'm not sure that he would takeover the liaison with the SWs, unless he thought there was a realistic chance of success.

Has anybody even heard of a couple being successfully approved without SWs support?

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