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Me and my sister are at breaking point over her treatment of my nephew.(140 Posts)
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!
God knows why my apostrophes have come out as question marks!
If you think he is being neglected or abused you should contact the NSPCC.
Social services need to get involved. The parents are not interested, that much is obvious, and I doubt they'll do anything. Would you take full custody?
Social services need to get involved, which I think you already know.
Phone them tomorrow morning. Emphasise that DNeph doesn't really live with them, that should get their bums into gear.
You're lovely and DNeph is lucky to have you.
I hope someone comes along to offer wise advice. I don't know whether to suggest talking to social services or not. Would they offer the OP support or complicate things?
Put frankly Almost, would you consider fostering the boy full time, perhaps for a limited period in the first instance?
Hi well you have no choice really something needs to be done.
Would you be willing to have him full time? If social services gets involved they may ask you this. Can you not say to your sister that unless she sorts herself out or lets you look after him full time legally of course you will have no choice but to contact sociial services.
Have you got parents that are involved at all?
Thanks everyone-you're telling me what I already know. I would 100% take full custody, no questions asked. To be honest, deep down, I think they want that too but refuse to admit it.
Good God I feel sick now I've got outside confirmation on just the little information in my OP that my gut instinct isn't wrong.
Thanks HarderToKidnap-I'm lucky to have him, he's amazing!
Vivacia that's what worried me-that I might not get the chance to have him and instead I would never see him again. Hysterical I know but I'm just at the end of my bloody rope with the whole situation
Oh dear, ATT, best of luck with this. He is very lucky to have you, and boy, did he draw the short straw with his parents.
A lot of people may say that you have to consider the potential to permanently destroy the relationship with your sister, but for me there is no question that you need to be talking to Social Services.
Your sister is an adult making her own choices, and failing to be responsible for her childs welfare. You are prepared to be responsible, but are unable to protect him 24/7 so the only way you can ensure he does get that protection is to talk to those people who can protect him.
The only other alternative would be to decide that you want to be a full time permanent parent to him, and talk to your sister about making that legal. Don't just make it a non-legal arrangement, or they could take him back into this dreadful situation whenever they choose.
A lousy situation OP, but all credit to you for putting this baby first.
Have a look on adoption and fostering and ask there, but I am pretty sure family are always the first options for adoption or fostering where it is an option. If you call social services mention every time you speak to anyone that you are his maternal aunt and would be happy to adopt or foster him and to allow your sister access, so the fact doesn't get lost in the paperwork.
Foster places are in very short supply, they will always try and place the child with family first. Unless you are very unsuitable for a reason you haven't mentioned you will get custody, and if you aren't suitable for custody then contact would be facilitated. But don't worry about that now, it's a very long road to that and hopefully with support your sis will engage with and love her boy. Child she be depressed?
Good point MrTumbles. Very sad what can sometimes get lost in their paperwork.
Foster carers are in short supply, and (without knowing any other factors!) given your involvement to date I would assume they will consider you an acceptable placement. However, you will need to be able to handle work/money issues?
You need to know you have thought everything through ....and be able to demonstrate that.
I don't think you need to worry about your nephew being placed with another family. They try to go with family first, I believe .
I think you should have an open, honest conversation with your sister. No blame, no judgements, nothing that will push her in to face-saving over-reactions, "your lifestyle at the moment is a bit chaotic, how about Nephew coming to stay with us for a couple of weeks?". I think you need to acknowledge your sister's love for her son, and her permanent place as his mother, but show that you're offering your love as his auntie.
I'm just not sure if this comes before or after social services involvement.
Tricky one. No advice to give but blimey it reminds me of the life of John Lennon (Google it) and that did NOT work out too well. I really would not envisage a happy outcome if you did take on your nephew full time.
Sorry OP not helpful I know - he is their child and yes they need a kick up the arse and a MASSIVE wake up call. While they are being supported by others they will not change.
They need a professional kick up the arse.
Could you stay with them for the weekend and start cleaning up the house rather than taking the child away from a dump and returning him to a dump?
I would have thought social services would place a child with a caring relative rather than in external care, providing they see for to remove the child from his parents.
In your situation, if I had given up hope that my sister could turn it around (and I would have given up by age 3 :-( ), then I would phone social services, making it clear I would be happy to have him short or long term and at short notice if necessary.
Social services shouldn't tell your sister that it was you who reported the situation, so hopefully the existing arrangements will continue if social services are unable to do anything.
Good luck OP, and well done for giving that little boy love and stability.
X post harder
Please do be careful though, when following advice about constant reiteration. The right people need to know, but you also need to ensure no-one thinks you are just trying to get the child for personal reasons (other than his safety)
Please make the call this afternoon. He is potentially at so much risk.
" 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."
This is what makes them bad people,not unemployment.
They sound like scum. Do whatever you think to safeguard the child. Your sister lost her right to your consideration when she became scummy.
Thanks unobtanium-I hope I can go someway to mkaing up for his bad luck even though I can never replace his mum.
To be honest the relationship with my sister, although obviously not something I want to rid my life completely of can never be my priority again when it comes to this situation MumnGran I just keep remembering how things USED to be when we were small. It's so sad.
I have no idea how to bloody bring the idea up but am going to have to just grit my teeth and do it. MrT (LOVE the name) cheers-mentioning my commitment at every stage is very useful advice, I imagine it doesn't take much for things to get lost in the paperwork so to speak. I am glad to hear that family are usually the first option when it comes to fostering, it would break my heart to lose him.
I am just about to leave work but will be back as soon as I can given how manic this evening already is
I knew mumsnet would come good-you're a lovely bunch Can't think why I've lurked for so long without posting!
When my Mum was young her Gran took her cousin away from his parents because they neglected him. He spent a lot of time with other family members anyway but they just accepted that he was better off elsewhere and didn't put up any argument.
Wouldn't happen nowadays but maybe they are hoping you will suggest something similar but for them to say it out loud would make them seem even worse parents.
Could you broach the subject before you involve SS?
Oh bugger loads of cross posts! As I say. I'll be back as soon as I possibly can-thanks all!
If a person contacts SS in an instance like this can they request anonymity. If I were you OP, whilst you would want to stress your relationship with DN you clearly don't want it to be outing you to your DSis.
He deserves more, you know that.
You either need to chat to them about making a more permanent home env for nephew - do you think they would consider fostering or adopting him to a family member? Would you be happy to take responsibility full time for him? What about when you have children etc?
Or if you think they will kick off and not do best thing by nephew then SS is only option unfortunately.
Neglect at this age and an uncertain home env damages a child for life - their ability to trust people, feeling safe and loved, being allowed to be yourself are important in developing the sort of person you become.
This is hard, but he needs you to protect him.. either through makkng his parents step up or stopping them damaging him.
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.
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.
I took so long to write that, I X post with mumgran
What sort of thing does your nephew say about his life with his parents, OP?
But you explained it so much more eloquently, MrsDeVere
I was going to say, look up special guardianship. It can work happily.
you are to be commended Op. i hope the wee man gets the ntervention he needs. x
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.
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.
Oh for goodness' sake. I don't know where to start addressing that comment.
Sometimes words fail me too, Vivacia.
All OP can do is ignore it- luckily she has plenty of support on here.
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.
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
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.
You sound a lovely caring couple. Great advice on here for you. Good luck with which path you choose
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 youve all said, and discussed thing (yet again) with my DP, this time through slightly fresh eyes given the reassurance from you guys that Im 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, its before noon!) but I hope she gets back to me when shes up and about and that by showing that I CARE and dont want to ruin their lives, we can come to some kind of arrangement. The only downside to this plan is if it doesnt go well, then it will be obvious that it is us that have taken things further, either to SS or wherever, but thats 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. Ive 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 thats 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-dont get me wrong, I like a drink as much as the next person, Im in my mid twenties for Gods 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-Im only human after all and weve both worked hard for the jobs weve got-but wed manage Im sure. I know that sounds very naïve at the moment, but believe me I am processing and thinking about things in my head. Im 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.
Im 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 hell say things like I dont 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 hed nodded off-he said Aunty ATT, mummy daddy say I do their fucking head in. Shocking? They are the worst but theres all sorts of other stuff-like if we take him out for the day and we drive near his house he will scream Im not going home! NOT HOME! I want to go ATTs house. It is heart-breaking.
Thanks very much for all the compliments-I just feel like we are doing what anyone would? I dont know, I just know I love him so much. Thanks everyone for your comments and experience, good and bad. Im so glad for those of you who have had/know of happy endings. Fingers crossed for us eh?
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.
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
Thank you so much! Of course I'll keep you updated-try stopping me posting now I've plucked up the courage to start!
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 auntie.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank god he has you in his life. You sound wonderful.
Hi I'm the OPs partner - firstly, thanks very much for all your advice so far.
As the OP has said - we regularly look after him and we love doing so - sometimes I think perhaps we need to step away and not let them presume we're having him for the weekend - in case they feel like the HAVE to let us have him. But when we don't mention anything, he gets passed on elsewhere, or we get a call asking if we could have him - so it's not that.
Sunday nights are hard - handing him back over when he doesn't want to go and we don't want him to.
Something needs sorting, but my main worry is if we approach them - they're the sort of people who would say "You're never seeing him again" just out of spite and then he'd not have the time with us which he enjoys and gets out to do things.... I don't want to appear selfish by worrying about that - yes I'd miss having him around - but if nothing changed, it would be for nothing.
It's becoming harder and harder to sit back and not go nuts at them though. The other week after a lovely weekend at ours - park, cafe, just normal stuff - we took him back, I went in the bedroom and there was NOWHERE on the floor to play, just junk everywhere. I was so close to going through and kicking off at them, but that would have achieved nothing apart from make us seem the bad guys in all this. So I had a bit of a tidy, gave him a hug and had a play with him.
I just feel like he's putting up with a rubbish life when he deserves so much better.....
Children need stability. I would hate to have to hand my children over to someone who neglected them. It would be torturous. This is what you have to do every Sunday night.
Maybe, approaching them gently, with positive rather than negative. So... we love having him so much, and we know how he gets under your feet, how about he just stays with us so you can get on doing what you need to without him bothering you? And whenever you like you can come and visit him at ours or take him out for lovely days out (realise this won't be happening btw). We would feel honoured to look after him for you. What do you think? We could trial it for the holidays and see how things are come September?
Then you are not accusing them of anything, and he can be removed from that abusive environment without a huge shit storm erupting. Failing that, Ss. He deserves a better life than they are prepared to give him.
It's horrible - Sunday evenings usually mean all three of us upset, but it's worth it to get him away for a couple of days. He changes over the course of a few days with us too - becomes less timid, more confident.
Possibly - it's a good suggestion....just don't want to be accused of trying to steal him from them if they don't consider anything to be wrong.
I agree - he deserves better.
I do hope your sister is amenable. And that they don't have any more kids.
If you are going to contact an organisation contact www.frg.org.uk
Baaf is not an expert on kinshiIp care.
I don't understand the slamming of ruby. Too often on MN I have seen 'take the child!' 'I would do it in a heartbeat' 'I wouldn't think twice!'
Deciding to take care of someone else's child is NOT something that should be done without careful thought.
It is not a fairy story, it is real life and taking on children who have been neglected and abused is a serious, serious business.
It has an enormous impact on your life, one that lasts forever. It is not something you want to do without getting as much support in place as possible.
If the OP takes care of her DN she is going to have a lot of stress and intrusion in her life and she is likely to be dealing with two angry and hostile birth parents. Birth parents who know where she lives and have a lot of time on their hands.
I am not saying she shouldn't do it and she may not even have the opportunity, but it is a very, very big deal and it will turn her life upside down.
Unless...the bps agree, SS agree, the bps back off and behave themselves and DN has no issues related to being removed from his parents at all.
And just how likely to you think that will be?
Thanks for the link MrsDeVere, we will take a look at that.
It's not something we're taking lightly at all - we've given it serious thought with regard to finances, practicalities and everything - it's definitely not something we're taking at all lightly.
The whole situation is just totally wrong.
Thank you for your support MrsDeVere
Mine was not an impulse post made in ignorance. It is from years of experience that has been bitter sweet. My reference to John Lennon's upbringing had a point and it mirrored many other stories I have seen/heard from children in similar circumstances to his. I used his familiar name that's all. Taken from his mother to live with his aunt.
The child in the future will not necessarily thank you for your intervention but I am convinced your intentions are totally and completely honest and based on love and a genuine and real need to help your nephew.
Good luck OP and I really, really do mean that.
rossi no, I don't think you are taking this lightly. I was responding to the posters who don't have experience of this sort of situation and were having a go at someone who was just expressing concern.
If you or your partner want to PM me, please do. I am happy to help if I can.
Its likely to be a while before you get to the stage where you become full time carers though. Assessment of parenting can take a long time and unless SS go in there and see something that gives them concern that your DN is at immediate risk of significant harm they are not likely to remove him.
The website I linked to can be a bit confusing. You are looking for is the Friends and Family/Kinship Carers section. You have to dig around a bit. They have excellent info sheets on the various aspects of SS intervention and the laws involved.
Ruby wasn't saying, "think carefully about the implications" she was saying, "your nephew will hate you when he's 14 because so did John Lennon".
I wouldn't expect any child to thank me for ensuring their well being and I doubt the OPs would either.
I think several of us advised that the decision needed to be considered very carefully
I don't think that is what she was saying.
She was saying that children who are adopted/fostered often become very angry in adolescence and the people who bear the brunt are rarely the birth parents.
Which is true. It may have been premature to introduce it into the conversation but that doesn't make it wrong.
Unless you have been through the process it is impossible to really get an understanding of what it is like.
The people that get the least consideration, the most responsibility and who are expected to do the most whilst often being treated like crap are the kinship carers.
I would advise anyone who is anywhere near doing it to arm themselves with as much information as they can get. Unfortunately the most important thing to know is the Law. It shouldn't be but it is.
Lots of people are saying that family have to be considered before any other carer and this is true. It being true does not mean it always happens.
I would never advise someone not to do it but I wouldn't be doing them any favours if I pretended it was all simple and easy.
Few of us will have been through the process though - how many of us have been both the negligent parent, the neglected child and the auntie and uncle who step in? We can still bring understanding and advice to the OPs based on our limited, personal or professional experience.
I found Ruby's initial posting blunt, aggressive, unhelpful and a little illogical. It left me wondering, "OK, the nephew may have questions and anger when he's 14, so are you advising the OP to just walk away?".
You've all given me lots and lots to think about-on the back of this thread I've had a look at loads of websites in my dinner hour and printed off loads of stuff to pick through later on when I get home. My eyes are hurting from looking at a screen all day and I thought it might be "nicer" to have something tangible to hold onto this evening-even if that something is just huge amounts of paper with useful words printed on. I have also printed off this thread, I'm not sure why I've done that other than your words are so encouraging I'm just glad to be able to carry it with me and read whenever I want, regardless of phone battery/bosses looking over my shoulder etc etc. I will come back and post a longer update when time allows, I am shattered and worn down with thinking today.
I am thinking very carefully about future repercussions, of course I am. What they will be are at the moment I obviously cannot say or predict with any ease, which makes weighing things up very very difficult obviously. I know it's easy for me to say that I'm willing to take DN on. I know the reality will be very very different. I know he will have questions. However the question I definitely won't be able to answer at 14 is "Aunty ATT, why didn't you do more for me?" What I want though is for my sister and her DP to realise what the hell they are doing and wise up before it's too late. I love DN so much I think I'm going to burst with it at times, and because of that I'd just love for them to get their act together and become the family I think he deserves. That would be the best possible outcome for everyone, that goes without saying. I am just overwhelmed by everything this evening.
As I said, I'll come back and type some more personalised responses soon, as all these posts are ace, but I'm packing up to leave work as I type and really cannot wait to get home to my sofa this evening. How is it only Wednesday??
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
vivica I adopted my great nephew who was neglected by our niece.
Because we fostered him for two years before adopted him I was involved in every part of the process.
Supporting the b.mum
caring for DS
Going to court
Going to statutory reviews and meetings
Working with SS
Being screwed over by SS
Being abused by bmum
watching DS being abused by the system.
We are still dealing with the repercussions 10 years later.
Next to losing my DD it was the most stressful period in my whole life.
I don't regret doing it but I would have liked to have known what I was getting into.
Because if you don't, the chances of the placement failing are much, much higher.
My son is deeply traumatised. The biggest trauma that a child can experience is being removed from it's birth parents. Even crap ones.
Mrs DV, you are so wise
'The biggest trauma that a child can experience is being removed from it's birth parents. Even crap ones.'
I'm not clear why you addressed that post to me MrsDV
Because we were having a conversation
I'm afraid I've only read the first page of this thread and skim read the next 2 as I only have a few minutes to spare, but wanted to say that, it has been my experience that social services will activity try and place a child (for both fostering and adoption) within the family.
My DH and I (sadly) have experience of being asked to consider this for a comparatively distant relative. I don't want to post further details on a public forum, but will send you a PM.
I didn't realise because you didn't respond to anything I'd said (worried that sounds sarcastic, it's not meant to!).
Really? I responded to your last post and you responded to mine.
What would happen if you just ... didn't hand him back on Sundays?
Would they notice? Why don't you ask them?
Please record everything in your diary for social services.
I wasn't sure about Well's idea, but it might be worth just saying one Friday, "We'd love to have him for the full week if that's a help to you?". But then there'll never be any security for any of them.
MrsDV at the risk of boring you and everyone else, I didn't see how your 18:33 responded to my 17:15.
Its just that you mentioned how few of us would have been through the process.
And I replied with details of how much of the process I had been through.
Because I thought it was relevant.
Due to the nature of the thread.
Somebody said (I'm afraid I can't remember who) that you can only understand if you've got experience. My response was saying few of us would have experience of being in all of the roles (as I listed). Therefore most of us are just talking about our own personal or professional experience, and that's just as valid as the person who has been the neglected the child and the neglecting parent and also the adult who supports a neglected child.
So you're saying you had experience in one of the roles, saying you still have something valid to contribute and therefore agreeing with me?
If the OP didn't hand him back on Sunday?
I think that is called 'abduction of a child'.
Oh for goodness sake.
Give it a rest.
I have experience of the whole process. From beginning to end.
DS was a newborn when I attended court to pick him up from his b.mum.
I then spent nearly two years attending meetings with her, being assessed to be a carer, being a carer, going to court, going to reviews, dealing with a traumatised child, a confused/aggressive birth mother, ineffectual social workers, negligent contact workers, good sw and contact workers, etc etc etc etc.
Its not ONE role. Most adopters/carers do not see what kinship carers see and they do not have the level of involvement.
Most never meet the birth parents let alone support them.
Most are not party to proceedings.
Most are not expected to do the things KC are.
Not that there experiences are not important or less, they are different.
If you have not done it, you will not understand it.
Like if you have not given birth you will not know what it feels like.
If you have not been kicked in the bollocks no man can explain to you exactly how it feels.
I do not know why you find my contribution so irksome. This thread is about kinship care. I am a kinship carer and have been for 10 years. I feel I can offer some insight to the OP.
If they don't want it, fair enough, no biggie.
A birth parent is not posting, a neglected child is not posting, a potential kinship carer is posting. Hence me sharing my experience.
But I cant see why it offends you so much.
Its not meant for you. You don't have to bother with it. Ignore it. But don't dismiss my experience.
If its that important to you, I have a fair bit of professional experience as well but the OP is not asking what a social care professional would do so I haven't responded as one.
I don't find your contribution irksome or offensive, I apologise if I've given you that impression or if you feel I have dismissed you. I think where we differ is that I feel posters here can give valuable, helpful contributions even if they have no personal experience of this situation.
I believe that you feel personal experience is what's needed to truly understand the situation.
I'm comfortable with us having different opinions on this.
Anyway I will leave the thread now as I have said what I wanted to say and it was for the OP.
My offer of a PM is there if they want to talk to someone who has been through it and they have another offer from a kind poster.
So not much point in me hanging around.
OP, I really feel your pain coming through in some of your posts, and those of your partner, it must be heartbreaking to hand back your nephew when he's so upset about going "home". As he gets older, he may also become more of a perceived burden to his parents, and there might be the risk of abuse as well as neglect. You are well placed to keep a close eye on the family, but you are right that things have gone far enough and intervention of some kind is needed.
MrsdeVere gives some good advice on this thread, I'm afraid I can't offer anything practical, I just wanted to champion you and say that I hope you can make a difference to this family, but especially to your nephew as he is an innocent child caught in a dreadful situation.
I also agree that Ruby's post was very valid indeed.
When you or anyone adopts or fosters a child long term, you are adopting him in this case through all the years.
A 3 year old child, is not the same as a 14 year old.
Absolutely not saying you should not do it. Far from it.
But unfortuneately, dont automatically expect thanks.
He may, he may not thank you. He may even hate you, at least on the surface. He may end up saying "you took me away from my real parents". Who knows.
Dont want to put you off at all though.
MrsDeVere. Up to the op of course, and you, but I do not see any reason for you to leave this thread.
Its not a flounce
just not much more I can say.
Plus I am about to flake out
Sorry but if it were me i would probably say something like 'He's not feeling too well tonight so i'll keep him for a few days' and then just keep hold of him. Possibly mentioned to social services what you have done and they will go and investigate the house before he is to go back there.
I certainly wouldnt be returning him to a neglectful environment when i could offer him a lovely home with me.
I would keep hold of him, get the social involved and let them decide whether it is an appropriate environment for him to return to.
Op I think you and your partner are amazing.
But I suspect that if you involve SS the process may look something like this
ss visit and make lists of recommendations as to things parents need to do
eg, clean up house, stop smoking weed in front of child, attend parenting courses, get child into pre-school, support visits to monitor and help situation etc etc over a fairly long period.
The long term result of that may be that sister and her partner sort themselves out a bit and get a bit more together, enough for ss to be satisfied that they are OK and they keep monitoring them, but in the end the child stays with them.
Of course the threat of loosing him may be a wake up call and they decide they actually don't want to loose him, so will do the minimum ss ask for in order to keep him.
I know quite a number of children who live in circumstances that are seriously below standard, not what you would want for any child, but not actually bad enough to remove child.
Just warning you that ss involvement may not mean that he is removed at all, and if it causes break down in relationship with your sister, then you may not be able to continue the contact you have.
OP - what an upsetting situation. Obviously you know your sister best. If you didn't have the conversion yet, I wonder if people on the adoption and fostering board could give some useful advice on how to broach this and what your options are.
filee if you did that SS would advise you to return the child before the police get involved and you get into serious trouble.
You can't keep a child that is not yours. It is against the law.
But you do get informal fostering/adopting. That isn't illegal.
Not if they have agreed the child can stay for an extra week or so, in that situation SS would arrange to have someone visit the family before the time when the child would be returned.
I am not suggesting run off with him, I am suggesting telling the family he is comfortable and happy and staying for an additional week and then using that time to contact SS and get a child protection plan put in place.
That way the immediate issue is solved (the boy is not returned to a neglectful environment) and the long-term issue is dealt with by professional people.
mrsdevere your posts on this thread are excellent and you obviously speak from the heart.
I just wanted to add the caveat that if the OP's Dsis puts up a fight, it can be very hard for social services to insist that the child be taken away. Social workers will always try very hard to keep a child with its parents, even inadequate parents, and even when there's a much better option offering itself so easily, because, as Mrsdevere says, it's the most traumatic experience for a child to be taken away from its birth parents.
My mum was a social worker so although my knowledge through her is not recent, the situations she encountered were often much worse than the one described here. Slovenly, lazy parents who smoke weed and show little interest in their child are, sadly, very common. There would usually need to be more active damage, iykwim. It's not something I agree with necessarily - but I think this is the prevailing situation.
Best of luck to you OP and OP's DP. You sound lovely and are obviously wanting to do the right thing. I really hope you get the chance to make a big difference to this little boy's life.
xpost with steppemum - and her good point about SS intervention possibly making it more difficult to see Dnephew.
filee, you are not a professional in this field are you I presume?
Because surely, for your plan to work, the parents would have to agree in the first instance[because you cannot take someone else's child away without permission], ss would have to roll up within say 10 days[they dont work to someelse's timetable], all for the sake of having the nephew away from the situation 10 days early? And then assume that the op can keep him till a decision from ss is reached.
No I'm not a professional, I have never suggested I am.
I just think there must be a way to help the poor love quickly. Perhaps an informal arrangement would be better?
As with some others on here, I have worked in situations where children live in situations as bad and, unfortunately, far worse than this. It is heartbreaking. I am so happy for this particular little boy that he has such a loving auntie (and her very nice-sounding partner). I really hope you get full custody. What is your sister thinking of? It's so sad hearing about these situations but heartening that he has you. Please keep us updated OP?
vivacia not its not. If the parents agree. You can't just refuse to return a child to its parents even if they are rubbish.
It would be astounding if the OP could get SS to visit, assess and get a 'cp plan in place' in a few days.
It just doesn't work like that.
They have 24 hours from first ref to decide if they are going to do anything.
Then they have to arrange an initial visit. If the parents don't want to open the door they don't have to.
What happens then?
Even if they do get in its doubtful that they would move to child protection immediately. Not unless they saw something really alarming. I would imagine they would want to see the child with his parents anyway.
By this time the parents will be wondering what is going on with their son. We can't assume the don't care. It suits them to have him looked after by others regularly but that doesn't mean they wont go apeshit if they think someone is trying to take him.
TBH I think it is more helpful that this little boy has regular contact with his auntie. At least he has some consistent respite. The OP should keep quiet about her involvement and carry on as normal.
Perhaps not the most honest of approaches but if she wants to maintain contact its probably the most sensible
It is an informal arrangement at the moment. It seems to work well considering the difficult circumstances.
In our borough the new guidelines for a core assessment (which is voluntary) is 35 working days.
That is six weeks (if my maths is right). During that assessment things can be escalated if serious concerns arise.
I think once parents realise what is going on they are going to want their kid back.
But I could be wrong.
You cannot predict what is going to happen. People are complicated.
I think they will too MrsDeVere.
Cant exactly say why, but for possible various reasons.
They may want control, bloody mindedness, irritation with the op, shame, etc.
Hello, and apologies in advance if some of this stuff has been said before. You sound like a really nice person, and it is great that DN has people with his interest at heart. Its heartbreaking to hear of the things he has been saying.
Maybe your sister and her DP will be okay in letting you take DN on. I think its important to try and get the extended family onside with you as well, so having an informal discussion with them about the situation and what is best for DN. I would also make it clear that your sister and DP could have as much access as possible as well to DN.
That's one scenario. Another part of me says you should take another route, because what happens if they have another child? Do you look after them as well? It sounds as if your sister and DP are pretty immature or going through hard times, but DN should be number one priority.
They might be happy enough not to see him for two weeks at a time but if he was officially not living with them they'd lose money.
Reading through peoples responses, I would agree that you need to get other family members involved. If the end goal is for you to have custody of your nephew then it might be an idea to have an agreement drawn up using a solicitor. I don't know if you need to go through social services. If you get SS involved it will only put up their backs as they will be labelled as bad parents. While they are bad parents, labelling them as such might result in your nephew being stuck in a horrible environment.
I think it would be a good idea to talk to the folk on the adoption board. There is a little boy who is attached to his parents, however crap they might be. any adoption needs to be managed very carefully. Just whisking him away would be catastrophic. You need support in managing the process, if that is what ends up happening. Any court or SS would take a very dim view of an informal adoption because the needs of the child come first. I think you might kind of already think of him as yours anyway, which simply is not the case. Some counselling might help you sort out your feelings and find a way forward which is best for dn.
Talk to ss. be matter of fact. express your concerns, and out of that will arise the fact you already have care of him a great deal, as do another couple. then see how it unfolds. they need not know where the concern came from. And once dn is on the radar, they won't be able to play silly buggers, hopefully. maybe they will step up and get their act together, which would be the best outcome for dn. If not, the other options will be considered in due course. Remember you might well have your own baby in a couple of years, and it might change things and not for the better.
Wasnt going to link this, but think I had better, since posters are saying about informal arrangements, and I am not sure that what they are saying is all factually correct.
I dont understand it all fully, but I think the link is informal arrangements, but still with some local authority involvement.
Obviously dont know which route the op may go down, but I would hate for others to be lurking and reading, and they themselves read wrong information on here, on such an important issue. Which has such important legal and family ramifications.
FRG (linked upthread) have information on the different types of kin care yams
Hopefully the OP (and any others in the position) will get a chance to have a look.
You are right to be concerned.
Informal arrangements are common and they can work but they can have huge disadvantages (as well as disadvantages) particularly when there are concerns about neglect and abuse.
Keeping SS out of arrangements is tempting and is sometimes totally appropriate but I would be wary with such a young child.
I shudder to think what would have happened to us if we had gone down that route.
Thanks again everyone for your posts.
It's so hard to know what to do - we don't want to remove him from his parents, ideally, we want them to give a toss about him and buck their ideas up. But, if that's not going to happen - then I think he needs out of there - but of course they need a chance to prove they really are not willing to change.
I phoned them last night to see how he was and found he was at this family friend's house again - he's been there since we dropped him there on Sunday and we'll end up with him at the weekend again.
We've printed out a load of info from the links you've put on here and last night we called NSPCC to see what they thought. They said they'd urge us to ring SS and let them make a full assessment of the situation. They reassured us that SS wouldn't just sweep in and take him into care - but would work with the parents to try and improve the situation.
You have done the right thing so far.
Do you think you can explain to SS that it is much better if your sister doesn't know the concerns come from you?
She may guess but if you want to keep in contact with your DN I would be inclined to deny it if you can.
Offer to support your sister but don't collude. She will probably expect you to do that.
I think one of the problems of going down an informal route is that the op could find herself back where she started.
She could take her nephew, her sister changes her mind, or chucks out her partner etc, and suddenly demands her nephew back. This could happen at age 5, 7, 10 or whatever. And there I would have thought, be nothing that the op could do. The child could be very confused and uprooted. And the sister could slip back to her old ways.
Better to have ss involvement in this case, imo.
Maybe the sister will then do things to improve matters for the child, and maybe herself.
If we went to SS, it'd be anonymously - but I think suspicious would be very strong that it was us.
Agree totally with you about informal route - if we did it informally, we would certainly have it all done legally and officially so that nothing could come back and change things in the future.
I believe someone up-thread identified a hidden pitfall, in that one of the motivating factors for the parents may be the CB income.
Tragically, they may well be OK about the child living elsewhere if the money keeps rocking in.It happens a lot where drugs are involved and may well be the stumbling block to any informal arrangement.
It would be illegal for them to continue collecting if the child isn't resident .....but it begs the question as to whether you would be prepared to "pay" to have this child living with you. That said, if you (quite illegally) agree that they can keep collecting, and as far as the world is concerned it is being given to you ....but isn't actually ...................
It wouldn't look good - any way up - but might be the one thing that gains you want you want.
A lot of BPs carrying on claiming CB for years and the carers allow it because the back lash is not worth the hassle.
Another reason why formal arrangements are so important.
Without them the BPs can literally just knock on your door and take the child. Nothing at all to stop them.
Have the parents been like this from the child's birth? If so, isn't their health visitor involved?
I would contact the HV in the first instance rather than SS. The HV should know, and should be working with the parents.
Also, if you're serious about having the child long-term then why not rearrange things now so you start having him midweek. You'll have to do this at some point, why not start the planning or actually provide a day or two now ? It'll also give you an insight into the reality of what you're toying with. Will you be able to provide childcare on an informal basis or do your work situations mean that you need official status so you can ccover appointments, time off when the child is ill etc? From what you say, you should be able to suggest some midweek help to the parents.
the reality is this child would best staying with his parents if they can up their game. For this they clearly need support. encouraging people to sneak a baby into their home by the back door is not going to end well, most especially for this little boy.
Rather than taking dn more, I would suggest maybe some kind of family and friend intervention, with an independent mediator to outline your concerns, and then withdraw from making it so easy for them not to step up.
Have you spoken to the family friend who minds your nephew the majority of the time when he's not with you? They could be a very useful ally to you... or they could side with your sister and make whatever road you decide to go down very difficult. I would talk to them if you haven't already, and get them onside.
A few responses:
CB income - yes I can fully see that if they realised that CB would disappear, they'd not be so keen to hand him over. But, I'm really hoping this just kicks them into gear and makes them make changes.
Yes, it has been like this since he was very small. We didn't start having him straight away (apart from the odd day), but it's now he has got older that we're with him nearly every weekend (and would be lot more if we didn't have to work in the week). As for Health Visitor - I don't have a clue what they know or think.....I think as he is healthy enough physically and they go to their appointments - they don't know anything of this.
As for midweek care - he would have to go into some kind of childcare in the week - I can't go into too many details on here, but it's not something that would be an issue for us.
MadameDefarge - The ideal is they get themselves into gear and step up as you say. Knowing them though - this isn't likely. We've gone over and over should we just not have him for weekends, let him stay at home but the reality is 1 of 2 things:
1 - Someone else would take him (big family, lots of other people)
2 - He'd stay at home, get shouted at for everything and generally have a rubbish time and be resented.
NatashaBee - Speaking to family friend - we have done this and they agree things are not right. Perhaps we should raise some more serious concerns with him and get them onside - that's a good idea actually. Thanks.
Thanks again for all your replies - we'll keep you all posted.
A HV or midwives most likely visited them at home when the baby was born. This is to identify exactly what you describe and put support in place. I again suggest you talk to the HV. Just contact the boy's GP surgery if you don't know who the HV is.
I really hope you work something out for your DN sake. Poor boy
I hope you find a way to help your dn, I can't imagine how hard it must be to know what you are sending him back to.
I'm coming a bit late to this thread, but can I just say to the OP and her dh.
Please listen to MrsDeVere - contact her by pm or irl to get advice as she knows about this. She has been through it.
It is all very well to think that this should be simple - they treat him badly, so he should live with us. That is unlikely how it will pan out .
And please don't listen to people who say "just take him, he deserves better, yada yada". It doesn't work like that.
My advice would be - whatever you do, make sure that it doesn't make things worse for him. So a big show-down may well mean he never sees you again, and thus is to be avoided.
Unfortunately for you, the birth parents hold all the cards in this. So whether it sounds reasonable or not you will have to work with them. And because there is a likelihood of family and friend help and support, if SS get involved they may well be able to pull things together enough to convince SS maintain the status quo. Social workers don't want to split up families, and things have to be very bad to take children into care.
I think you and the friends who take him during the week need to get together and keep a joint diary of how often he is actually at home. Keep a contemporary record of everything he says about his home life. Take note of conditions at home.
If you do decide to go down the involving social workers route, it might be worth one or other of you seeing if you can get a bit of unpaid leave, and seeing what the reaction would be to you offering to take him for a couple of weeks, just to test the waters.
But be careful. My mum had a friend who looked after her grandchild (her daughter's son) this much - drug addicted parents, neglect in the home etc. She had him Sunday night to Saturday morning every year for 5 years. Eventually she involved SS because he was left alone often on the only night he was home. The parents kicked off and banned her from seeing him. She ended up not seeing him for years. I don't know what happened in the end, but she never got custody and I think he ended up going from pillar to post among various members of his father's family. It was awful.
Have you sought legal advice? A special guardianship order may be best. With a core assessment there is no guarantee the sw will conclude this child is being abused/further action by ss is needed. Proving neglect is hard and parents lie which makes things harder. So often there's no further action following a core.
I'd recommend a legal approach
But they won't get a SGO without a care order being in place or the parents consenting to them becoming the child's guardians.
Right, I rarely respond to posts like this, but its time to out myself a little bit.
This sort of thing is exactly my line of work (not to put too fine a point on it). If anyone I knew came to me with this sort of issue I would absolutely advise speaking to a solicitor. You can usually get a free consultation with a solicitor without obligation and this could be a starting point.
I have no experience of the emotional side of kinship care but I would urge you to think carefully about it. MrsDeVere has given you some great insights and you can't go into this lightly.
Informal care is something you can agree with your sister but there is the potential for complications if you don't have parental responsibility for your DN. How relevant this is will depend on the relationship you have with your sister but the essence will be that there would be nothing to stop her asking for your DN back and legally, you would be in difficulty.
Social services may choose to get involved and you could come forward as carers that way, or you could seek a residence order yourselves. I don't want to scare you but if social services get involved and the parents are not suitable, for a child of your DN's age, if there are no other suitable family members, as a last resort, adoption is one option. This usually means more often than not no direct contact to the birth family (letters only). I am not speaking about your DN specifically but it is really important that you understand the gravity of the situation (I am sure you do). This is why I reccomend a solicitor.
I cannot advise you (there are rules about informal advice). You really need some good legal advice. Try and get an appointment with a solicitor, preferably on the Children's Panel. Your DN's childhood is far too important to risk.
Best of luck, OP
Thank you for that Labrador
Really, really useful information.
I'm sorry i haven't read all the responses. I will add that i am reasonably experienced in this sort of situation both through work (regular participation in child protection conferences et) and through being the child of a foster carer who had a lot to do with birth parents, contact etc. OP you mention that you think your sister would like you to have dn full time but doesn't want to admit it. Have you spoken to her? Either in a totally up front way ....'you seem to be struggling to cope, would it help if we had dn full time for a few weeks?' or maybe suggest you have him an extra day, or that they pick him up from you (and hope they don't....) thismay seem a bit sneaky but maybe needs must - the ball is in their court. I think it could be very difficult to get SS to take any action at all. .sounds awful for your dn but in reality is unlikely to 'meet the threshold' for neglect severe enough to warrent a care order.
Just so I am personally clear for another time if needed, even ss advise people sometimes to consult a specialist solicitor?
Thanks, MrsDeVere. Happy to help!
Yams...SS do sometimes advise people to consult a solicitor. They may suggest this to parents sometimes, for example when they are thinking of court proceedings, or suggest it to relatives who wish to be carers, or in any other circumstances that can arise. I would always consider taking that advice. You don't have to wait for advice to get it though. Sometimes it's better to get advice early.
The cuts in legal aid can make it harder in some circumstances to get representation.
IME Yams all parties need a specialist solicitor in family cases.
We didn't get one till later in the proceedings but DS had one of his own, birth mum had hers and SS had their's.
Its all about The Law.
For some reason, I thought ss was the law, the establishment whatever.
But of course, no, now I realise they are not. The Law is higher, highest.
It was not until I did my last OU course which was all about Family Law and SS that I got an understanding of it all.
Despite being involved in it for years. It had all been a bit vague before. I knew stuff but didn't really 'get' it.
It was the hardest course I have ever done but very, very interesting and useful.
I have NO idea how anyone gets through an entire Law Degree.
My head is absolutely screwed by all this at the moment.
I think we're going down the line of talking to them and just see where it goes. If we ended up calling in SS after that, yes it'd be obvious it was us, but then I think it would be anyway. It's just so hard to know what to do for the best - I don't want to make things worse for him.
I may be being very naive but I think we could quickly adapt to having him full time if needed - it seems daunting now, but we'd do anything for him and if that meant a total change of lifestyle (we're not exactly party animals anyway!) - then so be it. In all reality, I don't see this happening however, but, I'm not totally saying it won't.
I just find the whole situation very sad, frustrating and difficult.
Not going to advise you what to do at all.
Personally I dont think the talking will work, they seem ingrained in what they are doing.
The calling of ss. Neighbours are sometimes the ones to call ss.
Find my self thinking of you guus and your DN every day.
Just adding my support as am off out. Good luck you both sound fantastic.
Just take it one step at a time now.
You have discussed the future and worked out what you would do/could do.
You have explored the options.
So I think for the sake of your sanity you should concentrate on the now and go from there.
It is a very stressful situation because you can be deeply involved with a child but have absolutely no power at all (hence the discussions around doing things formally). Its very hard to have that sort of responsibility but know you can't make any decisions.
Your first step is to talk to them. Do that and go from there. It may get better, it may not.
Whatever happens, you have already made a difference.
Good luck OP and partner. What a heartbreaking situation.
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