When do you give up on a child you are fostering?

(44 Posts)
Roshbegosh Thu 13-Jun-13 04:34:14

We are having a terrible time with a 12yo child that has been with us for a few years now. One thing after another and he smoked some weed this week, was in a fight, had a school exclusion etc. we love him but he is making us miserable all the time. The SWs don't exist basically, so shite, that is another story. If we give up on this boy he will end up in a childrens home and most likely go downhill fast. Horrible dilemma. Don't say ask LA for support, have done, no response AGAIN. Feel torn, stressed, miserable and knackered.

Roshbegosh Thu 13-Jun-13 08:56:01

I start to think they should just take people who don't care and expect nothing from them and just want the money. I feel like social services' bitch i.e. that they can make demands of and they can be rubbish but I have to expect nothing from them.

redgate Thu 13-Jun-13 08:56:35

Hey it sounds like you are doing a brilliant job, a lot of people (birth parents included) would have 'given up' a long time ago. I don't really know what to say, but I do understand how you feel - slightly different situation, but I am a fc too. Has your agency got an agreement with The Fostering Network (or Fostertalk) their advocates are very good and might be able to support you. It's easy to feel alone in this 'job' but I am sure lots of other people have been in similar places. Hope you have a better day today.

fasparent Thu 13-Jun-13 13:54:45

Seam's as all to often you are on your own, GP referral too CAMHS, Do not be surprised if SS try too block support, will do in some cases, Staffing. workload, parental problem's , etc.,
Every child is entitled too help there could be lot's of reasons for his problem's.
Have experienced difficulty getting help for youngster's and have used the law in the past, see competence law CAMHS will be aware of this also Gillick competence. Where children can get help in their own right
with out guidance of professionals., some children know they have problems they wish they could control, and are living in hell. , not knowing why and how.
Lot's of useful tips and advice in posts

NanaNina Fri 14-Jun-13 13:30:36

Thank goodness you have had so much empathy on this thread. I am a retired tm mgr of a fostering & adoption team - was in the work for 30 years, and I worked for a LA shire county. I am appalled at what I am hearing on these threads about the way foster carers (who are like gold dust in my opinion) are ridden rough shod over by children's services. However I was out with some of my old team last week and they were telling me how standards of sw practice had plummeted due to the slashing of sw budgets, frozen posts etc etc.

Sorry if you have already said how long you have had this child with you. The thing is as others are saying, the pre placement experiences of almost all LAChildren are so horrendous that they will never fully "recover" though some of course do better than others.

I'm sorry but I don't have much faith in CAMHS though I suppose it does depend on the individual worker. They are the old "child guidance" people and we never found them to be very helpful.

Is there a specialist teenage fostering scheme in your LA. We had one and it was very successful, and we managed to close 2 children's homes in our area, due to the scheme, but the carers were supported very well by my team and all requests for help were taken seriously.

To be honest, (and people may criticise me) but I think it is maybe time you did "give in" with this particular child. You are not the cause of the problems, and neither are you responsible for his future, as to whether he ends up in a children's home. That (whether they like it or not) is the responsibility of the LA SSD. We had an arrangement whereby we asked carers to give us 28 days notice of ending a placement if at all possible, though sometimes carers did have to pull out before then.

And just in case anyone wants to criticise my post, I have seen carer's try and try with a child to the extent that marriages/partnerships break up, they experience mental health issues, and their own children are also suffering to an extent where the placement is no longer viable. You mention violence to your DH - this is totally unacceptable. I think there was a residential sw on the thread who talked of caring for children with challenging behaviour, but on a rota basis, so that they could go home and live a normal life. With fostering this isn't possible, as you well know.

Where to go _ I suggest an e mail/letter to the sw and his/her manager copied in, advising them that you have repeatedly asked for help with no response, and given the child's escalating range of behavioural problems you are of the view that you will regrettably need to end this placement, and give an end date. That should make them sit up and take notice. To be honest I'd like to bet that the sw doesn't know what help to give you, which is why they are not responding.

What do you reckon?

Roshbegosh Fri 14-Jun-13 18:38:47

Nana, thank you. I feel so guilty and responsible for this child but he is destroying us. I can't give details here of course but it is such hard work and my husband wants to stop. The LA has parental responsibility and they have just abnegated it. It makes me so mad to hear some of their excuses, for instance the team leader didn't have time to let any carers know their Child's SW was on long term sick so we have had 3 months of emails going into a void. No one was allocated her work blah blah blah. They have parental responsibility and they are worse than the neglectful parents that let the children down in the first place. They are busy, we have heard that one for over a year and it is their excuse to do nothing, ever. We are in a crisis that maybe could have been averted with some support and intervention along the way, god knows I have asked for it often enough.
Thank you for saying maybe it is time to give up. We shudder at the thought of another 6 years of this with things getting worse as he gets older and more adventurous and independent. We are letting him down if we stop and there is no doubt about it, we have failed, but we are bloody miserable and have so many restrictions and demands on our lives because of him. I do love him though. Overall, believe it or not it has been a positive experience but right now it isn't. We will have to give notice, you are right, and thank you for not saying what bastards we are or "poor child" etc.

NanaNina Fri 14-Jun-13 19:37:14

Oh Rosh I have heard those words so many times from other carers "I feel so guilty and responsible for this child" and talking of being a "failure". Your feelings are real, but you have no need to feel guilty, and you are not responsible for this child and most certainly have not failed. I think the most telling phrase in your post is that the child is destroying us - that says it all really. You have to call time, because his behaviour will get worse rather than better.

The failure lies with the LA who have PR for this child not you. Their excuses are inexcusable. You must be very angry and frustrated.

I would also say that the placement with you is not right for the child either. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I suspect you may well be "too nice" and have gentle dispositions. A child like x is going to take advantage of this (not consciously of course) and his out of control behaviour will escalate as it is doing at present.

I actually started the teenage placement scheme I mentioned in the area in which I worked when I was a social worker. I took a risk and recruited some carers that others perceived as "a bit rough and ready" and lots of them had been in trouble with the police when they were younger and even been to prison. I had to ensure that these incidents were over 10 years in the past. I didn't set out with an idea of the type of carers I wanted, but I knew what I didn't want, and that was nice, ordinary people who would make good foster carers for younger children, because I knew they would not cope with some of the kids we had in children's homes at the time, and that these kids would, to use your word destroy them.

SO yes some of the carers I recruited had tattoes and swore and lived on the local estates, and stood for "no messing" but more than anything they seemed to have an understanding of these teenage kids, and I would be half way through my speel on my initial visit and then realise that it wasn't necessary, because they seemed to "know" these kids. One carer had been in care herself and was in a children's home, which she hated and was constantly "running away" and she talked of wishing there had been a teenage scheme when she was that out of control teenager, and now wanted to give another teenager the chance she never had. Another couple had lived on an estate in another town which had an appalling reputation (a real sink estate) and again "knew" the kids we wanted to move out of children's homes.

The scheme was an absolute success, not to do with me, but because of the carers, but I don't mind taking credit for knowing the type of people who would cope with these kids. I did a prep course (like fostering) but obviously focussing on teenagers and there were a few people who dropped out which I encouraged because I wanted people to "self select" though I did have the "power of veto" if someone was totally unsuitable. The first cohort were of 8 carers (all couples as it happened) and those people were absolutely brilliant. My intuition had been right. I remember one lad was terrifying the female staff in the children's home and had one member of staff up against the sink and was threatening her with a broken milk bottle. The other member of staff apparently was too scared to do anything about it. I wanted him out of the home and placed on the scheme. I was totally honest with the couple (the bloke had been in a fair bit of trouble in his younger day and had skipped most of school and his wife was one of 7 kids who had lived on the estate all her life and they had 2 kids of their own though not teenagers. When I told them about the milk bottle incident I thought it would put them off but NO - the female carer said "Well if he comes here, he won't have me up against the sink" and I looked at her and thought "No you're right he won't" - (she was about 5' 3" and slim build) but it's not about size, as kids instinctively know who they can mess with and who they can't, so I placed him with the couple and there was no trouble whatsoever.

There was a sw colleague who again was small and slim but she was a black belt in Judo and she explained to us that keeping yourself safe from attack was nothing to do with size, it was about your thinking or as she put it your head - she did some classes for us but I knew that my head would never be in a place where I would be able to cope with violence.

I'm taking a risk telling you all this I know, but I am hoping you will understand what I mean. I am definitely NOT criticising you in any way shape or form, and really do think you need to get your notice in. That will bring the sws round, offering this that or the next thing, but it's too late and you have to be resolute. They may try the "well we have nowhere else he can go" (tell them firmly if they use this despicable excuse, that this is their problem, not yours) In your OP you said you were "torn, stressed, miserable and knackered" and then that this child is "destroying" you. You will need to think about what you tell the boy (I am assuming it is a boy, not sure why) and whether you want the sw there when you tell him. He probably won't show any emotion and will just shrug it off, as he will never have learned how to deal with his emotions, sad but true.

Sorry I should probably have PMed this post. Incidentally do feel free to PM me. Quite a few foster carers do this.

Panadbois Fri 14-Jun-13 20:42:12

Fab post Nana smile

NotmylastRolo Sat 15-Jun-13 17:06:54

Rosh and NanaNina - This just highlights how brutal and raw fostering is and how much it can consume/destroy you if you do your job well and advocate hard for these youngsters you come to love and care for. Trouble is you, as the 24/7 carers and closest to the foster teens, can clearly see what is needed to help them with their anger, lack of social skills, low self-esteem etc.
The more you ask for CAMHS or any help from any other professionals (i.e. dietician) the more we were told we were "needy and not coping".
Our SSW was useless and blames all behaviours on us (thanks mate).
Nananina - thankyou so much for your honest words above as we are one of those gentle families and we pretty much felt a failure, we had a rotten yearly review which we felt we did not deserve, so we resigned. It broke my heart as we loved the siblings we had so much but we had to save our own sanity and look after our own bc's.
I do feel for you op. Whatever you do you will feel rotten. Truth is that fostering is harsh. It makes me really annoyed when we see adverts all over the place in our LA's region promoting fostering as easy and something anyone can do. It takes over your whole life and I can understand what Nananina said about it causing divorce and mental health issues in carers (thankfully we are a solid couple).
I take my hat off truly to all you wonderful foster carers xxxx

Glenshee Sat 15-Jun-13 18:11:39

This reminds me the movie 'We Need to Talk About Kevin', where parents are considering giving up their own son into care, in the interests of safety of his younger sister. The conversation between the parents takes place following an accident which leaves the younger sister without an eye.

'There's nothing left to decide. It already happened.' - says the father.

Here's the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBPB5Ex2UXk

Your situation looks similar, OP. You are trying to save this boy's life which is admirable (big way), but you shouldn't put your own life in danger when attempting to rescue others.

So sad.

NanaNina Sat 15-Jun-13 19:42:15

How sad notmylastrolo that you were treated so badly by social services. I loved every day of my job and I had a wonderful team of fostering social workers who were totally committed to the foster carers, and valued them for what they were - sheer "gold dust" in my opinion. Of course we had difficulties along the way and allegations against carers comes to mind, but I'm pretty sure that we always treated carers with respect, no matter what the circumstances. Sometimes sws for the child/ren would come to complain about this that and the other, and we always followed things up, but very often it was just that the sws didn't understand the difficulties carers were faced with, when looking after troubled children. Some of them had totally unrealistic expectations of foster carers and we had to explain that foster carers were not Mr and Mrs Perfect and had their own ups and downs of family life as did anyone else, and caring for traumatised children was a very difficult thing to do.

Makes me so angry and frustrated now to see how carers are being treated by some LAs.

Maryz Sat 15-Jun-13 20:00:01

That response from Burbery just shows that he/she has no understanding whatsoever of teenagers, drug use or fostering sad. It's bollocks.

Rosh, we have been through that with ds1. He was adopted and had some attachment issues as well as a diagnosis of AS. It was very hard, and there were times when I felt it would be better all round (for him and for us) if we could somehow give up. However, because he was adopted not fostered, that option wasn't there and we stuck it out. It nearly destroyed us as a family, he was desperately unhappy for years (drug use, thrown out of school, violence etc).

We hung in there because we love him. He is our son in the same way as if he was born to us. However, if he hadn't been, I would have had to give up for the sake of my younger children. I worried for years that his behaviour would destroy them - but in fact they have survived.

If you want to stop, then do. You don't owe SS anything; you have tried your best and some children are just too difficult sad. However, if you do want to continue (and your dh is prepared to try a different route), it is possible to survive a child like this. You have to change the emphasis from him to you though; you have to put yourself first and make decisions on how you can live your lives in a way that makes you happy. So you need to put some of his behaviour to one side and accept that you cannot change it, but you don't have to let it affect you.

Having said all that, for us dealing with violence, theft, visits from drug dealers, being constantly frightened was awful. But the day I decided I couldn't change him, but could change my reaction (put aside guilt, worry, blame etc) did make life more manageable, and in return his behaviour miraculously improved.

burberryqueen Sat 15-Jun-13 20:06:21

response from Burbery just shows that he/she has no understanding whatsoever of teenagers, drug use
look I apologised and left the thread, explaining that i have my own things going on with teenagers and drugs and school suspension etc., so it is not really 'bollocks', thanks.

Maryz Sat 15-Jun-13 20:14:57

You didn't apologise for saying the op was cold and that she obviously doesn't love the child. You made an excuse that you were having a tough time, for which I'm sorry, but really your post was way out of order. Because in this type of situation rushing to "blame the parents" is the worst possible thing anyone can do.

aladdinsane Sat 15-Jun-13 20:16:55

I dont think anyone can comment on what life is like with a traumatised child until they have lived it

aladdinsane Sat 15-Jun-13 20:19:14

Have you contacted your MP to put pressure on LA to provide support/therapy and do you get any respite
sorry if this has been said i have jumped in without reading all replies when i saw you being slated

Roshbegosh Sat 15-Jun-13 23:05:50

The negligence of the SWs is astounding but I can't give details here. I had not thought about contacting my MP but I will complain formally about how they have let this child down and will copy to MP, thanks for that suggestion. The LA have parental responsibility but are at least as neglectful as his parents were so we were on our own. I must complain for the sake of all those other children they are letting down. Cut backs, bollocks, this is not recent negligence on their part.
Thanks everyone for the support, I feel much better today, hope it lasts...

holsty Tue 10-Sep-13 11:26:22

We had a sibling group and the middle boy at 13yrs nearly gave me a brake down he just spiraled out of control,in the end we had to let him go <It isnt worth getting to that point.Now 3yrs on we still in contact he turned out a better boy, some times you have to let them go.Smoking weed at such a young age can affect them. When they souting they dont mean what they say.You need let the sw now ask for help !

suzylee73 Wed 11-Sep-13 13:47:28

I really feel for you. My 16 yr old foster daughter broke the placement down after 6 years recently so I fully sympathize wholeheartedly. I tried so many strategies eg respite, begging her to stop, 18 months of therapy, consequences, crying so she could "see" the damage she was doing. Nothing worked and I couldn't keep her and myself safe so she had to leave. I'm not saying there is no hope I'm sure there is but please don't beat yourself up if it does break down. If he is trying to break down the placement for whatever misguided reason you might not be able to stop him. Much love

Roshbegosh Thu 12-Sep-13 07:16:05

Thanks holsty and suzylee for the posts. Things have got worse since I posted and we are waiting to hear where he will go now. We still see glimpses of the boy we have loved all this time but the slightest thing will turn him into a verbally abusive monster. Everything is a battle, even getting him to brush his teeth and we have given up fighting most of them out of sheer exhaustion and ultimately because we have no power over him. Yes we could stop TV or playstation but then some other shit happens. He has suddenly realised we can't make him do anything. As he points out, we are not his parents and if we say we are doing their job he sneers and tells us to fuck off. Hearing you had 6 years that then went wrong suzy is yet another message telling us to stop and try to get our lives back. So sad though, we wanted to look after him into adulthood.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now