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I have been approved a year and am very very fed up(45 Posts)
Have namechanged - I'm not even sure why, I'm not well known at all!
I was approved at panel a year ago today, for 2 siblings aged 2-6. I am still waiting. Everywhere you look, all the adoption info is all about how the desperate need is for adopters for older children and sibling groups. Yet everyone I've met through prep etc wanting a baby was placed almost immediately, and here I am.
My SW is useless. I have to chase her all the time, about everything. I had to ask her 3 times to refer me to the national register, she eventually managed it. I went to an exchange day several months ago -which incidentally my SW said she would make me flyers for, but 'forgot' - and came back with a huge stack of profiles, as you can imagine given that I'm looking for older and sibs. Several SWs showed interest in me, but it all stops when it gets to my SW. I feel like she is keeping me on the back burner for when they have sibs inhouse they can't match. My SW has even told me before now she's had SWs email about me, but she hasn't read their emails! Occasionally she sends me children's profiles from other SWs, but when I say I'm interested, nothing happens.
I always email with her, as I can't phone when I'm at work and there's no answerphone to leave a message out of hours. I've emailed her so many times asking for a review meeting, for an update, for any info on what is happening. She doesn't reply to my emails. I tried raising my concerns with the team manager when I went to a regional exchange day - she told me no SW will ever choose a single adopter over a couple, so I should be lowering my sights to harder to place children. Finding children I'm interested in is not the problem, there are loads, some even with SWs who are interested in me, the problem is my SW does nothing about it! I felt like she was blaming me being single for my lack of progress - if they didn't want to place with a single adopter, why did they ever take me on?!
I wish wish wish I'd gone with a VA now - at least they'd want to find me a match. There seems to be no impetus whatsoever to match me. I've tried going round my SW as much as I can, by emailing other SWs my flyer directly when I see profiles I'm interested in, but then apparently they have to send info to my SW, so nothing comes of it.
I feel really angry, and sad, and frustrated, and trapped. If I'm approved by a team who have no placement for me, managed by a manager who seems to have no great opinion of single adopters, and with a SW who either can't or won't get it together to find me a match from another LA, I might as well not be approved at all.
Can you ask to be transferred formally to another social worker?
How awfully frustrating for you.
I think its time that you submitted an official complaint, one that includes examples of situations where your sw has failed to respond to emails and potential leads.
I would also consider copying it to the head of children's services and agency decision maker.
Good luck, and please do keep us posted if you feel able to.
Who do I complaint to? Because I can't see getting much joy out of the team leader based the response I got when I talked to her in person. Who would be next up from her?
I'm a bit scared of going over her head, and getting her back up and then being in an even worse position. I feel held to ransom - like if I get labelled a trouble maker, they'll never match me. But then they're already not matching me. So maybe I've not got a lot to lose?
In your position, I'd actually call BAAF.
I did, due to problems of a different kind relating to my assessment-with a very positive outcome.
I'm going to PM you, actually.
When we had been approved for a year we had an annual review - have you had one yet? If not perhaps you could ask for one, and maybe ask for the team leader to be present.
I feel you've not got a lot to lose, by being a bit more pushy, as you say if you aren't then maybe you won't get a match.
I would write a list of concerns, backed up with specific examples, that you can then share in the meeting. Are you really sure your SW is doing nothing? (I can imagine children's SWs getting a load of parent profiles and then only getting back to the ones they are interested in.)
Maybe you need to remind your LA that they did approve you for 2 children as a single adopter so they must have thought you could do it. Go through with them advantages of being single. Ask how many sibling pairs they have 'coming through the system'. Would you have more chance of a match if you widened your age range or were willing to adopt just one child?
(My 2 were 8 and 2, and it was tough going even with my DH around. I hope you have a good support network!). Good luck.
Your SW sounds rubbish, kick up as much fuss as you can with a full timeline and at the end of each email (always do it in writing), point out that if they are unable to cope with their workload, you will take further action. We went through an independent agency as it gave us access to more children/information. Because they receive a fee for placements, our SW was very good and still provides support. We did find that responses to requests for further profiles (to childrens SW) were poor, late or none existent, but in the end we were found by another SW seeing our profile online. It is a harrowing stressful process and I send you my best wishes and good luck for your future family.
TeenAndTween I've had no review - there was one booked but the senior SW was off sick so it was cancelled. I have emailed and asked my SW for it to be rebooked twice, no reply, so I've now emailed the senior SW direct. She at least replied - saying she's not supervising my SW any more but will forward my email to the senior who is. I am really sure my SW is doing nothing - the only CPRs I've ever had are ones children's SWs have emailed me directly, my SW has never sent me any despite telling me she's had emails about me from interested SWs. She is really disorganised and I think is slow tracking me in the hopes of using me for an inhouse match rather than external - but they've no siblings and none coming up as far as I know. It's not a big LA. There are loads of sibling groups from other LAs I'm interested in, it's just my SW does nothing about this, so I don't think I need to change my age range to find children - I've found several just can't get SW to do anything about it! When I was taken on the team had a different manager, I actually went with the LA as a single friend of mine had had a really positive response from them. Now they have this manager, who openly said to me no SW would choose me over a couple. So I'm not so keen on having her in my review, I know I'm probably being oversensitive but I was really upset by her attitude.
Gemini1974 that's the thing, I've had children's SWs show interest in me, it's my SW who doesn't take this forward. After the exchange day I went to some had already emailed me before I'd even got home! I think atm people wanting sibs and/or slightly older children are thin on the ground, so childrens SWs get quite keen about me wanting this.
Thanks for your replies, I've got the day off work tomorrow so I can ring BAAF and see what they say. I want to go back through my emails so I can plot out when I emailed my SW and got no response, when childrens SWs emailed me but I got nothing from my SW etc.
Update - deputy team leader has emailed me and booked a review, for the end of next month. I rang BAAF but the helpline adviser was off sick, so I have emailed them instead and am waiting for a reply. So a bit more waiting!
I am literally appalled!! I am a single adopter and only just been approved. They went on at me a lot through the process and even at panel about whether I would be able to push authorities and other organisations (schools etc) to make sure things happened for my adopted child as was required - and that I had the tenacity to fight to make sure I got the right support etc.
So if i end up in your situation - I will be 'right back at ya' - pushing and hassling and writing to all and sundry until i got the goal I required - and then smile sweetly and say 'see just what you wanted!'.
Keep a detailed log of EVERYTHING and when you complain (lots of avenues for this - even if it's the chief exec - they are obliged to respond in LAs and within certain time frames) be polite and factual and clear about what action you expect to be taken. Try not to be emotional including when you have the review meeting.
This is a 2 way thing - they're not doing you a favour - you're potentially going to save them £1,000's of pounds in care fees, you've already cost them thousands in assessment, I heard somewhere (poss from my social worker) that they get paid £20K if you're placed outside of the LA area (note:unsubstantiated info!). You're a valuable commodity!
Sorry for the rant but it's seriously unacceptable and you shouldn't feel guilty - it's their JOB. Even if the social worker is too busy (as is often the case) it's still a failing of the system and department resourcing and should be flagged up.
Hmm they want us to be tenacious - not sure they want us to be that with them - it's much more of a 'we know best' vibe!
I do feel over a barrel, I have worked in the past sharing an office with social workers and I know how easy it is to get a 'name' as pushy or unreasonable or whatever. These people are controlling my matching and in the future (if I ever get a placement!) potentially controlling my access to therapy, financial support, whatever. I am scared of alienating them. But you're right, I am a valuable commodity and am not being treated like one.
I'm still hoping BAAF are going to reply to my email, I want to make this review meeting count.
I'm sorry, I know you don't want to hear this, but I don't think a year is unusually long to wait, especially for a single adopter waiting for such young children. Unless you are black or have very good personal contacts within your agency .
It sounds like you are looking at children from other agencies. If your agency is in a consortium, they may have agreed not to pay any inter agency fees. Your your agency will not get any money if you have a child placed with you from another. So they don't have much inventive to " sell " you, especially if other SWs are reluctant when they hear you are single .
You need to understand that it's all about the placing social worker . Most of them will only consider a single adopter for a child who they can't place with a couple. And there are usually plenty of couples interested in one or two NT young children.
Another issue would be work. I assume that you would need to go back to work, at least part time, after your adoption leave. Many workers prefer a family where there can be someone at home with the child/ren at least until school age.
I'm sorry , I know this is upsetting, but there sadly there is still a lot of prejudice against single adopters ( and those affected by disability and gay couples )
No, I'm alright with hearing that. I don't know if it's long generally to wait, but in terms of the adopters I've met in the LA it is - some are single, some are gay, all placed with younger children than I am looking for in under a year. 2-6 doesn't seem that young here, they seem to be placing loads of under 2s! So just on what I've seen in the LA, I've been waiting longer than most and am looking for less easy to place than most. Maybe if everyone else I'd met was in the same boat I'd be less stressed about it [shallow].
I know that despite my many excellent qualities I'm not going to be every family finder's first choice - I'd just rather hear that my SW sent my PAR and the placing SW isn't interested in me, than to hear nothing. I want to feel like my SW is doing something, and my PAR's not shoved in the back of a cupboard gathering dust.
I dunno, plenty of room for improvement in the system - but then we all knew that!
I'm really supposed to hear that so many white single people and white gay couples are getting NT babies under 2. I know several lesbian couples who have had young babies placed but they were all black or mixed heritage . I've not known any white gay couples get a baby or even a NT younger child. That's very interesting and im pleased to hear that the prejudices are breaking down a little
however I can see it must add to your frustration . and of course you are a valuable resource and your SW should be promoting you.
I hope you get some answers and some action at your review
Sorry I mean I'm really surprised. Blardy autocorrect
Yes it's part of why I went with this LA - they're a neighbouring county to me but I deliberately chose them for their reputation of being welcoming to people other than white hetero couples where the woman will be a SAHM. In my prep group was me (single), a young mixed heritage couple, an older gay male couple, a couple who speak a language other than English at home and one 'standard' white straight couple. All now with 'easy to place' children, the oldest child being under 18 months. So from the wider perspective it's good!
Update - had a reply from BAAF but not that helpful unfortunately. It read like they'd just skimmed my email - maybe it was too long! I'd said why I was not happy with my SW with examples, and asked how to get the best out of my review meeting - the reply was basically 'you should ask for a review meeting' - err, thanks.
Oh well, I'll make a list of what I want from the meeting and go from there I think. Thanks for replies.
We are sorry to hear that you have experienced such difficulty with your local adoption agency. In these circumstances we would advise you to make a complaint to your local authority. The best way to do this would be to write to their Complaints Manager for Children's Services. This would then mean that your complaint is handled in line with their complaints procedures, typically a 3-staged complaints process. This also means that, if you get no response or are dissatisfied with the response, you would be able to escalate your concerns to the Local Government Ombudsman.
In relation to your concerns about your social worker, you can raise a complaint with the Health and Care Professions Council, who regulate social work. Details here. If there is no improvement and you feel that the relationship has broken down you can always ask for a new social worker.
We wish you all the best with your adoption journey. If we can be of assistance please do ring First4Adoption on 0300 222 0022.
Very tired - I think you have been treated very poorly by your agency. But I strongly advise you not to make a formal complaint, as f4 adopt suggest.
In an ideal world, your compliant shoudl be investigated and your concerns addressed. However , I know of many people who have made a formal compliant against SWS and it did not work out well. some lost their children - adopted children, others permanently fostered. One family had their foster children removed without any warning.
If you complain,there is a good chance that you will be seen as a trouble maker and you will not get a child placed with you. If you go to another agency you will get a reference that says that you did not get on with your SW and disagreed with " professional opinion" ( ie theirs) and they have concerns about how you would work with an agency if your child had problems. They will say that you are difficult,demanding and have unreasonable expectations.you will be unable to get this removed from your record as its "professional opinion " .
This can happen even if your complaint is investigated and substantiated by an outside agency. The worst crime to any SW is not abusing or neglecting your children. It is disagreeing with a SW. by complaining you are doing this by definition .
I would not advise any family to make a compliant about SS until their youngest child is 16 or they no longer live in the area . Otherwise it's just too risky
And yes I'm sure that once this post is spotted by any social workers, they will post that I am being paranoid . I'm not , I know too many families this has happened to. In fact there were several cases profiled on woman's hour on BBC radio 4 last year . Ill see if I can find a link
Here's the link
It was in fact File on Four, broadcast in January 2012
KristinaM you have hit the nail on the head - that is exactly what I am worried about.
I'm so sorry , I wish I could give you a more positive message .
FWIW I used to run the complaints service for a very large public sector organisation so theoretically i am all for service users being able to exercise their right to complain.
we had very little problem of victimisation of complainants. But it wasn't Social services , let alone adoption. It's too small and there is too much discretion given to individuals who are generally very poorly trained and inexperienced. And the system is not designed to cope with any kind of feedback from clients -it's stuck in some 1930s time warp of the deserving and the undeserving .
I realise that this is a sweeping generalisation and I'm sure there are examples of good practice out there. I'm just not convinced that your agency is one of them, given what you've said so far
What a difficult position you are in and I understand your anxiety about complaining. I think the Review Mtg is a good idea. You could ask if a Team Leader could attend too so that you've got some back up. We are at the mercy of our SWs competency. SWs are incredibly overworked and stressed and it sounds like this SWs supervision might also be an issue. I would be tempted to copy the Team Leader in in all correspondence. Out of county placements cost your LA so they will often avoid doing this. Keep talking to BAAF or Adoption UK for advice. A phone call would probably serve you better if you're able because you can get your point across. Good luck. Hope you get somewhere soon.
On the upside, I went to a big exchange event last week and at the weekend emailed 12 SWs about sibling pairs. I've had 6 replies so far, which I think is really good going especially in a bank holiday week. I know that's still a long way from anything concrete but it's something.
Although I fear the one who replied that she will only converse with me via my SW won't get a reply from her, at least there are SWs who show an interest in me which can only be a good thing, especially to have leads to ask for updates about at my review meeting. If there are children's SWs interested in me, at least that's potentially more than just me trying to move things forward.
Incidentally, there is so much variation in what different teams/SWs are happy to do. The replies I've had range from SW saying she will only answer questions about the children if I ask my SW to ask on my behalf, to SW who messaged me CPRs straight away without even copying my SW in. It's a confusing thing.
Stay sane Very, it's coming together!
Can I ask and this seems a very rude questions but you mentioned not being able to phone from work? Do you have a mobile and lunch break, could ringing during the day make a difference and could it be possible to take your lunch break off site occasionally to allow you to speak to your social worker during the day. I know it hard. I work in an open plan office and have had all kinds of off calls including devastating fertility news from my mobile in a deserted conference hall and conversations about children to adopt in my bosses kitchen (all without my work colleagues knowing what I am talking about - I hope!). Some work spaces may be a phone free zone so I am lucky my work place is very open about people calling during working hours. But even if they were not I do get lunch breaks when I can leave the building. Is it possible this might work for you or would it just add to your stress at work?
All best wishes.
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