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Me and my sister are at breaking point over her treatment of my nephew.

(140 Posts)
AlmostToiletTrained Tue 16-Jul-13 17:03:02

Hi everyone.

I am a lurking occasional poster who could really do with some help. Or advice, or a kick up the backside?I?m not sure which to be honest. I didn't really know where to put this, so figured relationships was as good a place as any given the subject! Please feel free to move this if you think it would be better elsewhere.

This is probably going to be a long one, so than in advance if you make it to the end, I?ll try and keep it as brief as possible.

My sister and her partner had a baby almost three years ago. He is a complete joy. The problem is, they just have no interest. Neither of them work (not that this makes them bad people-just setting the scene) but sit around all day doing not much except for the baby?s dad smoking weed pretty much constantly. Their house is a health hazard, the little one?s bedroom is full of dirty nappies. I could go into more detail but not sure it's completely necessary to make my point.

My DP and I have our nephew as much as possible-we both work Monday-Friday but without fail pick him up every Friday and return him on Sunday evening. He comes on holiday with us and basically spends as much time as possible with us. I?m biased I know, but he is a relatively easy kid, and I love him so much. I dread Sunday evenings and taking him home. He also spends a LOT of time at a family friend?s house, to the point where my sister and her DP can go for two weeks without seeing him, as the family friend will have him when DP and I are at work, then we will take over Friday-Sunday.

I have tried everything I can think of to kick their arses into gear, but as much as I love my sister, my priority is now that little boy. Some of the things he comes out with now he can communicate better are heart-breaking.

I don?t know what to do. I feel so stuck. I don?t want to kick up so much of a fuss that they take him away from me-but I know this is so selfish I?m cringing just typing it. I also can?t sit by any longer and do nothing. Please someone point me in a direction that might help. I?m lost and just want to make things better him and I feel like I need someone from the outside looking in to help me decide what to do as I?m so confused and can?t see straight because I?m in the thick of it.

This is way more concise than I thought it would be-and thanks in advance for any replies and I?m sorry if I don?t reply for a while as I?m a wee bit busy this evening. I will be back as soon as I can, as I say, I?m a long time lurker and can't keep away!

MumnGran Tue 16-Jul-13 17:34:25

I do think you need to be aware though, OP, that reporting will not necessarily be an instant fix.
It will depend entirely on their findings, but they may well choose to leave the child in place and work with your (D)Sis to help her become a better parent. You will need to watch this process, including the fact that she may fail at it.
It will not be an easy road, whatever you do.

MrsDeVere Tue 16-Jul-13 17:46:17

There are two ways you can approach this and they both have their dis/advantages.

You can offer to take your DN on an informal but permanent basis. Your sister may well agree to this providing she gets to keep the benefits related to her son.
This will avoid the need for the [significant] SS intrusion into your lives and some families prefer this arrangement. Its been going on for generations.
But this will give you no legal status in your DN's life and your sister can come and get him anytime she feels like it.
This makes it insecure for everyone and when she and her partner get pissed off (and they will) they may use your DN as a way of getting back at you.
You also have to consider medical and educational situations, you will not have the right to make choices for your DN.

The other way is to go through SS. Report your sister for neglect. If this case meets the threshold for intervention (and don't be surprised if it doesn't) you can put yourself forward (in writing and verbally) as a carer for your nephew.

This route means a lot of intervention, assessments and quite a bit of stress [for you] but it will mean you eventually will have a legal status in your DN's life. Probably a Special Guardianship Order or a Residency Order.

Be prepared for a few things to happen. Your sister and partner to kick off big time. Its one thing them choosing to leave their child with others, its quite another SS coming in and telling them what to do.

SS may come and have a look around and declare that your DN is NOT at risk.
SS may come and decide to get your DN on a Child in Need Plan. This means they have concerns but are not willing to go down the whole child protection route just yet. TBH I think this is the most likely action. You may be part of the plan, DN coming to you for regular respite.
SS may go in and try and work with the parents, they kick off and act like idiots and the whole thing escalates into a child protection assessment.

Think carefully about what basis you want to take your DN on. If you think you will need any sort of financial support (apart from CB) you MUST be careful to make it clear that this is not a 'voluntary' or 'private' arrangement. This will make it very difficult for you to get any help from SS.
This is only really an issue if SS DO have CP concerns and are seeking to remove your DN from his parents.

I know money is not in your thoughts right now but I feel I should warn you.

Taking on a relative's/friend's child is a huge commitment and one that needs a lot of careful thought. I am not saying you shouldn't do it (far from it) but you need to enter into this with a clear head.

You do need to speak to SS about your concerns. You can talk to NSPCC but they will pass it on to SS or ask you to.

Good luck. He sounds a lovely little boy and I am sorry that you are facing such a difficult time.

MrsDeVere Tue 16-Jul-13 17:46:59

I took so long to write that, I X post with mumgran grin

ImperialBlether Tue 16-Jul-13 17:54:35

What sort of thing does your nephew say about his life with his parents, OP?

MumnGran Tue 16-Jul-13 18:21:52

But you explained it so much more eloquently, MrsDeVere smile

MrsFrederickWentworth Tue 16-Jul-13 18:27:55

I was going to say, look up special guardianship. It can work happily.

chubbymomie2012 Tue 16-Jul-13 18:35:51

you are to be commended Op. i hope the wee man gets the ntervention he needs. x

Ezio Tue 16-Jul-13 18:42:36

It is likely based on the condition of the home and fathers drug use, they will visit regularly, if neither improves, they will put him on a child protection plan, this is likely when they will like to place him in the care of a suitable relative, if parents do not change and SS are not happy with the situation then they will look to have him adopted, they will ask a family member if they are willing to do this before seeking other adopters.

<experience>

redrubyshoes Tue 16-Jul-13 21:46:39

OP if you go for and get custody of your nephew please be prepared to pay the piper when he comes calling when your nephew is older.

A lovely sweet three year old is a different kettle of fish to a resentful and angry 14 year old who wants answers as to why he was taken from his parents and screams "You are not my mum!"

Think very, very long and hard.

Vivacia Wed 17-Jul-13 06:12:07

Oh for goodness' sake. I don't know where to start addressing that comment.

exoticfruits Wed 17-Jul-13 06:38:32

Sometimes words fail me too, Vivacia. hmm
All OP can do is ignore it- luckily she has plenty of support on here.

Some good information here on kinship care from Citizen's Advice. Only for Scotland though.

Or here from BAAF.

Good luck OP.

coffeewineandchocolate Wed 17-Jul-13 07:09:37

you have 2 options. you can call ss and report. they caninvestigate take appropriate action. if they remove they have a duty to place with family first. if they place you would have to be assessed as a kinship carer and if approved would effectively become a foster carer.

or...

you can seek legal advice and supply for a Residence Order through the courts privately. If you decide to do this I would inform ss of your actions and why before you do it.

I would choose the second option tbh. you could get ss involved and apply for a residence order concurrently if you were worried about his immediate safety

Mixxy Wed 17-Jul-13 07:20:11

Really, redruby? Did you just read a Lenon biography?

Ignore that, OP.

My mother raised her sisters daughter (my cousin is my "sister"). She was taken in with us at 8 years of age, for slightly different reasons. We had lived 3 doors down from my aunt and were always close to my sister/cousin. She is now 27 and just graduated with her masters. My father is due to walk her down the ailse in 2 months. If you want to make it work you can. Sadly, I can't offer legal advise as we were raised in Ireland. Different kettle of fish. Please keep us updated on your DN progress.

CheeryCherry Wed 17-Jul-13 07:25:09

You sound a lovely caring couple. Great advice on here for you. Good luck with which path you choose flowers

AlmostToiletTrained Wed 17-Jul-13 09:47:53

I am overwhelmed by the messages of support and advice on this thread-thanks to each and every one of you. I have carefully read and considered everything you’ve all said, and discussed thing (yet again) with my DP, this time through slightly fresh eyes given the reassurance from you guys that I’m not overreacting/being a truly awful person for considering intervening. Thanks for giving us the confidence we need.

Having discussed things at length we have decided to initially go for the chat with my sister and her DP. Trying to get them on their own without other people in the house is nigh on impossible, but I have tried phoning this morning to arrange a time when we can take round a takeaway and just talk without anyone else there. There was no answer (silly me, it’s before noon!) but I hope she gets back to me when she’s up and about and that by showing that I CARE and don’t want to ruin their lives, we can come to some kind of arrangement. The only downside to this plan is if it doesn’t go well, then it will be obvious that it is us that have taken things further, either to SS or wherever, but that’s not my concern right now to be honest. It would probably be fairly obvious it was us anyway-most of the rest of the family are keen not to rock the boat. This has never been my attitude in life, sometimes to my detriment I must admit. I’ve mellowed loads in the last few years though and will do my best to show concern. I will do everything in my power to help them get back on track if that’s what they want. My sister and I have always fought like cat and dog but would do anything for each other deep down. The whole situation is just bloody miserable.

The weed thing really really annoys me-don’t get me wrong, I like a drink as much as the next person, I’m in my mid twenties for God’s sake, but me having one G and T on the back garden in the sun with the little one is doing him no harm-whereas him “living” in a house that STINKS of weed is a different kettle of fish entirely IMO.

I have thought about the money aspect of it-I’m only human after all and we’ve both worked hard for the jobs we’ve got-but we’d manage I’m sure. I know that sounds very naïve at the moment, but believe me I am processing and thinking about things in my head. I’m not at all brushing these concerns to one side-I am glad to have another train of thought to follow, and will give everything even more hard thought.

I’m sorry to hear some of you have experience of this type of thing, however it is very useful for me to be able to get your opinions and perspectives on things.

I will address the teenager comment-him being 14 is a hell of a long way down the line, and I hope, however things pan out, that I will be well enough equipped through years of experience to deal with situations like that as and when they arise. Again, naïve I know!

As for the type of things he says, sometimes when we are playing games he’ll say things like “I don’t have shit for brains” and one memorable occasion on the way home from holiday where I cried all the way home on the plane after he’d nodded off-he said “Aunty ATT, mummy daddy say I do their fucking head in.” Shocking? They are the worst but there’s all sorts of other stuff-like if we take him out for the day and we drive near his house he will scream “I’m not going home! NOT HOME! I want to go ATT’s house”. It is heart-breaking.

Thanks very much for all the compliments-I just feel like we are doing what anyone would? I don’t know, I just know I love him so much. Thanks everyone for your comments and experience, good and bad. I’m so glad for those of you who have had/know of happy endings. Fingers crossed for us eh?

thanks

Mixxy Wed 17-Jul-13 09:54:27

I know I'm crossing mine for you guys. Do your best by the lad. And if it has to get messy, so be it. If he wants to be with you guys, I don't see SS fighting it.

Go get your boy.

flowers

Ipsissima Wed 17-Jul-13 09:59:14

Perhaps come back and let us know how it goes, OP ?
I, for one, thought about you quite a lot yesterday evening.

You are absolutely doing the right thing flowers

AlmostToiletTrained Wed 17-Jul-13 10:02:25

Thank you so much! Of course I'll keep you updated-try stopping me posting now I've plucked up the courage to start! smile

taleteller Wed 17-Jul-13 10:14:48

If you can possibly afford it, once you have sounded out your sister as to whether she will be supportive of the changes, I would see a solicitor who deals with this sort of thing so you have proper advice throughout whichever process you decide to pursue.

You sound like the bestest kind of auntiegrin.

Do not tackle the issue with your sister or suggest you have her son informally as if she takes umbrage at you point of view or suggestions then you will be outed as soon as SS contact her.

Just go straight to Social Services with as much info as you can put together. I would not suggest having your nephew straight off the bat but ask for their help in getting your sister to sort her life out for her child.

I think that would always be SS's first idea rather than to just remove the child. Children are left in fat worse situations than that of your nephew whilst their parents are worked with. I not saying that is right but the parent will nearly always be given a chance to put their big girl pants on and take some responsibility before removal of the child is even considered.

EasterHoliday Wed 17-Jul-13 10:23:49

hi ATT. When I was little our cousins lived iwth us. Their mother left, and my uncle couldn't cope (he drank). I think it was an informal arrangement, and they stayed with us for a few years. I think it's something that's actually quite common. There certainly wasn't any seething resentment at 14 (they were with us at around that age) - just lots of sympathy for me when i got to that age as they reminisced about how strict my mum is! Not sure if you have children of your own, but it's a lovely thing to grow up with your cousins. Good luck.

misskatamari Wed 17-Jul-13 10:29:16

ATT that is heartbreaking what your nephew is saying about his parents.

It seems like you know you need to try to get custody of him as leaving him with his parents is just not an option. They sound an absolute disgrace. I'm sure it won't be easy and there might be bad feeling from your sister but that little boy and his well being is the priority and you need to keep that at the forefront of your mind. Good luck.

rockybalboa Wed 17-Jul-13 10:40:38

Are Social Services not involved? They need to be, sorry. You are doing entirely the right thing by your nephew by calling them. Poor little boy.

Vivacia Wed 17-Jul-13 10:54:42

I think you're doing great. Your idea about taking the takeaway 'round is non-confrontational and just the kind of approach you need to nurture to look after this little boy.
You're doing just what an auntie should. I'd do it for my nephews and nieces and I bloody hope my sister would reciprocate. Someone once gave me some wise words, "each parent is being the best parent they can be". It helped me deal with things without getting too wrapped up in blame and resentment.

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