To be so so torn over this...,(79 Posts)
Ok there is a v long back story to this, it is a heartbreaking family situation we are currently in.
My 28 yr old bil who I have known since he was 15 has never really grown up. He has had a string of disastrous jobs, relationships, written off 2 cars, debt problems and generally shows very poor judgement with the unpleasant addition about being v cocky and arrogant. Very wealthy pils have bailed him out on countless occasions - he's never had to claim on car insurance for example, he treats them with contempt and only ever gets in touch when he needs money. Tbf they have enabled him in a lot of his behaviour but now he has gone too far even for them.
He got married 4 yrs ago and had a 4yo and 3yo with his much younger wife, both pregnancies were surprises and there is only 11mo between the two dcs. Last year his marriage broke down and he very quickly moved on to a new relationship with a new gf who became pregnant pretty much instantly. Apparently she has had cervical cancer, chemo and part of her cervix removed so didn't think she could get pg. she has 2 dcs who are preteen age but they both live with different grandparents. She and bil are engaged to be married in the summer (bils divorce has just come through.)
We found out that sil has a conviction for child cruelty from 10 yrs ago, one of her dcs was left with multiple fractures to its arms and legs. She told bil that she was in an abusive relationship and it was the bf that did it but SS have finally caught up with her (She moved areas So slipped under the radar). SS visited pil this week to tell than the full story and it has become clear how many lies she has told, but bil appears to be sticking by her. SS are waiting to get hold of a psychological assessment she underwent at the time of her conviction.
It looks as if the baby is going to be taken into care. When as visited pil they asked if pil would have the baby and they said no, on account of them having 5 other grandchildren and ailing elderly parents.
SS will be visiting us as a safeguarding measure as sil has been around our kids, but are also likely to ask if we would take the child on.
Mil is v naive and says things like 'she hopes the baby ends up with a nice family'. I am less optimistic. I know the outcomes for looked after children and about attachment disorder etc and can't bear the thought of a child going down that route....
Dh is heartbroken over this and I think is seriously considering it. But we already have a 3yo and a 7mo. The baby is due any day. I am due back at work ft in 3mo. I don't even know if we'd be allowed, and I really couldn't do it if we had to keep up contact with sil, but info we have so far suggest we won't.
This is tearing me up. My mum made a comment about 'those genes' as in idiot bil and monstrous child abusing sil. But I have always come down firmly on the nature side of the nature/nurture debate.
How on earth do we even begin to make this decision. Is mil being naive and optimistic in thinking that the baby will end up in a lovely family....? Am I being naive in thinking that we could do this without it having a detrimental impact on our dcs- a 7mo age gap would certainly be a challenge!
Any advice or help would be hugely appreciated.
Thank you for your thoughts. I suppose the adoption vs foster care question is the crux. This is something we'd have to ask the Sw about.
I'm in the countryside with patchy wifi so might not be able to update for a couple of days, thank you.
I was adopted almost from birth. I grew up knowing my parents wanted me very much and never suffered from any sort of attachment disorder.
A baby will not be aware of or ever remember the first few weeks/months of its life and from what you have posted Op, this baby will be much better off having a chance in life as far away from its biological parents as possible.
Why can't BIL care for his child without the mother?
I very much doubt adoption would be on the cards at this stage - foster care with contact presumably more likely.
I would definitely do it, as would DH.
If it is all pretty much as you say and a) the SIL will not be considered for rehabilitation and b) she is unlikely to bother visiting (or won't be allowed to) then the two possible outcomes I'd say are either:
1) You decide to do what's called kinship care (or similar terms). You can ask your work for flexible working arrangements (legally you are allowed for a non-biological child too) but can't legally have new maternity leave for a foster/kinship child, but if you are in time you could extend your current maternity leave to be a year plus any annual leave, or your flexible working could be "unpaid time off and then part time". You may or may not get a fostering allowance for the new child. If it is very unlikely that the child is going to ever be able to return to the BIL/SIL, then they will be put under a placement order (I think that's the right term) and you will be assessed to adopt (you will only have a minimal assessment for fostering/kinship due to being relatives), and then the baby will be with you permanently. There will still be identity etc. issues but not as many attachment issues as for many adopted children. The main thing that might affect the baby in particular is alcohol drunk by SIL in pregnancy - you don't say if this is an issue. Drugs, stress/DV are also issues but not like alcohol.
2) the baby goes into foster care following which a placement order is made and the baby is adopted either by their foster carers or an unrelated family. You (if you are safe, able to support the idea of adoption by someone else, not objecting to adoption by e.g. a gay couple) will probably be asked if you want to have regular contact and (if the adoptive family are reasonable people and not convinced that seeing birth family turns them into "glorified foster carers") this could be regular visits through the child's life. If the placement is handled well (or if the original FCs adopt the child) outcomes are also likely to be good, with fewer attachment problems, same risk factors as above.
What an awful situation. Lots of good advice here, so it sounds luke more fact finding for you I think - what ss are looking for as the next step. Good luck.
If the child would be able to be adopted, after sometime whilst sorted out with a foster cater who looks after newborns, I think it might be best for the child to be away from SIL and any possibility of her being involved (even if not supposed to be - she wd know where you lived ) - I know of friends who've adopted a child who was never with his birth mother, with same foster carer since birth til adoption. Child seems very settled and happy.
Why can't BIL care for his child without the mother?
Because he's going to marry her.
We were in a similar situation years ago when my exP's godson died of an overdose (he was a convicted drug dealer) and left a baby. The mother was equally a heroin addict and had children before that had been taken into care. I felt we ought to help the poor baby as the other option was the incompetent grandmother who has eventually adopted her. But we were concerned at the time that the grandmother would constantly interfering as well as having to accept a degree of contact with the birth mother who went on to have more children and I think kept some of them.
I completely agree about the fact that a newborn baby is unlikely to take after incompetent parents and that was not my concern either.
My main concern was the unstable rest of the family, in particular the mother.
The poor child ended up being adopted by the grandmother who is on ADs and drinks a lot. Last time we saw the child two years ago she was obese, very badly behaved and shockingly rude to my DCs.
We no longer have any involvement with that family, including the exP and therefore I am grateful we did not adopt her, but my concern really at the time was the fact that because she was a close relative, there would be a lot of involvement from other family members and everybody would want to have a say in her upbringing which would have been very confusing.
But that might not be the case with your BIL and SIL and
A baby in care from birth has a very high chance of being fairly rapidly placed for adoption. The family will be well screened and will probably have wanted a baby for a very long time. That's not a guarantee of anything of course, but don't confuse the life chances of a baby in this position with an older child who has been neglected/abused then taken into care.
As I said on your other thread, as long as there's a chance of the birth parents being involved in your lives AT ALL, I wouldn't dream of keeping an innocent baby within the immediate family ... I've seen this done and believe me the result was deeply unpleasant
A tiny baby will certainly have a great chance of finding a loving family and going on to enjoy a wonderful life - what a wonderful opportunity compared with the alternative
I personally wouldn't do it. Harsh and selfish though it seems your priorities are not this child but your own family-your DC and DH. Being pessimistic I would fear what possible negative impact this may have on you all in the long term. Could your relationship survive this upheaval? Would you be left as a LP to 3 DC if it crumbled due to the strain?
Very difficult for all, good luck.
But if future sil has two pretend where are they? Surely ss are unlikely to try to have the baby removed if they live with her?
I think this baby would be better off being adopted out of the family. Your BIL and SIL know where you live, they could turn up at any time, you don't know how they'll behave in the future, they're family so you can't totally avoid them for ever. Imagine the trouble and interference that is possible from BIL and SIL. The strain on your own little family and your own relationship. Plus if you and DH crumble under the strain, what happens then?
It's just too complicated and a newborn baby stands a really great chance of being adopted very quickly.
Outcomes for babies adopted at or soon after birth are VERY different compared to those taken away later and put into foster care as they take much longer to place and often suffer psychologically. Parents adopting babies are extremely carefully vetted and are usually desperate for a baby they would treat as their own.
Would just like to second the statement above about babies who are adopted from birth having a very different experience than those adopted at a later stage. I was given up for adoption from birth, placed into a (very loving) foster family for 18 months and then permanently 'placed' with two lovely parents who were unable to have biological children. Had a very normal childhood, and didn't experience any of the emotional "horror stories" I often hear about in relation to adopted children.
Social workers are incredibly careful with vetting potential foster carers and adoptees, and you just have to peruse the relevant mumsnet threads to see how much these babies are wanted and looked after
I agree with others saying it would be best for the newborn to be fostered/adopted. It will be very difficult situation for you as the years go on.
My nan adopted her own nephew back in the early 50s. Her sister was married but fell pregnant by another man and was going to put the child up for adoption. Nan was pregnant with my mum at the time and it had a detrimental effect on my mum's childhood. She was sidelined constantly because her cousin/adopted brother was regarded as the special one. I'm not suggesting that you would be like that with your children but the complications of adopting within the family have had a massive impact on ours, even after all this time. My great Aunt went on to have another child, by another man and this child was put in to care.
Your SIL may regain residency.
SS will look if there is a family member who will foster the baby, whilst the court process takes place.
This could take over six months. It depends on if your SIL and BIL fight to gain residency.
SS will want short term and long term Foster Carersfrom the family, if there is no-one to carry this out, then SS Foster Carers will be found.
It will impact on your family, contact may be given and you will probably only be granted a temporary residency order and SS will hold a Care Order, alongside.
You have to decide if you want another child, or if you are Willing to care for the baby, attend court dates, meetings etc whilst they battle to gain residency.
Just to add, that you would be caring for the baby on SS and SILs terms, so it won't be like having your own baby, it is harder.
What a truly awful situation to be put in. Your bil sounds like a tool.
I am pretty certain that the 'looked after' children you are thinking of are not babies. The adoption process is a rigorous one and many people prefer a younger child or baby. Mymum is a foster carer and has fostered babies while the court process runs its course, they are then adopted by a lovely family, often who areunable to have childrren themselves.
In contrast to those suggesting that kinship adoption is all doom and gloom - I know of situations in which it can work well if:
The functional members of your family are able to accept you as parents (not go on about the child's "real" parents)
The dangerous members of the family are not pestering for contact and are not enabled in this by other family members.
The child is able to have a good sense of their biological history e.g. who their eyes/hair/left-handedness/musical talent came from
And the child is brought up knowing about both positive (good family traits, positive family memories) and negative (realistic reasons why the birth parents could not care for them) aspects of the birth family.
I know of two children adopted from birth / before year old and they are thriving in adopted families.
The parents are So so grateful and treat kids wonderfully. I have shivers just thinking about how much joy these smilies have.
Good luck with your decision x
Why don't you post on the adoption board where you'll be able to find out more about the outcomes for children who are adopted?
If you decide to do this then I hope you get the support you need.
Personally I probably wouldn't and I don't think you or anyone else should blame you if you don't do it.
This is not your responsibility or fault, if you don't think you can help then there's no reason to think the child won't have a good life.
I think that the child needs to be as far away from the birth parents as possible.
Thank you for all of your thoughts on this, your replies are so helpful.
I am composing a list of questions to ask Ss when they visit.
There is no drug use afaik. She has smoked throughout her pregnancy. I'm not sure about alcohol as we spent nye with her and she made a big fuss of the fact that she was abstaining, which I remember thinking was odd when she was happy to smoke.
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