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Permanent placement of 6yo with us

(58 Posts)
GertyD Mon 09-Jun-14 08:16:09

Long story short, my DH's second cousin placed her then 4yo son in foster care in January 2013. She was abusive physically and mentally to him and he will never go back. Social Services are seeking a permanent placement, forever home is the phrase they use. We have been approached by other family members and asked if we will offer this.

We don't know him very well, although we don't consider that a barrier as such, he is local and would continue to attend his local school, 3 miles away.

He is a beautiful child and we could give him the love and stability he needs, and having not done this before, I am as certain as I can be that we are strong enough to deal with the arising issues.

We have a 2yo and 15yo DS already, and I have concerns about how any behaviour issues will impact the younger one.

We wouldn't do this if we didn't feel we could commit to it 100 per cent and don't want to mess the poor child about anymore than he has been.

Has anyone got any experience of introducing an older, child from an abusive background into their family?
I guess I just am looking for reassurance that this could work and tips and advice when dealing with the troubled bits.

fasparent Mon 09-Jun-14 14:17:35

Have been in similar situation, not kinship but other siblings being placed at later times some older some younger, there will be rivalry as in most family's, If you do decide too take on young one, your children will be asked their views and feelings in private by court guardian social worker, there may be problems with settling in but children can be quite resilient . will always have his past and perhaps memory's , but with love and guidance most thing's can be overcome. We all have choice but often children have none, Wish you all well which ever way you go.

fasparent Mon 09-Jun-14 14:32:59

Sorry forgot too add if you go with this you could go with fostering too adopt, which would allow the child too be placed with you in a matter of weeks rather than on going month's of adoption process's, in which time you would learn if there were problems ahead address them seek support etc. Things that ss may wash their hand's off after adoption also give time too look at allowance's and availability if you may need them for the distant future , You would be on the books as a "Kinship foster carer, in your situation. Child will also be entitled too Pupil premium plus £1900 a year for school support until end of education.

fasparent Mon 09-Jun-14 16:06:49 have lots of information you may require

GertyD Mon 09-Jun-14 17:06:56

Thanks for the reply. I am new to all of this. I have been getting a lot of negative views, people telling us we should not do it, that it would be too hard, that he could bully and hurt our youngest DS, etc etc. I get there will be issues and hope we can manage them.
It will be a special guardianship thing I believe.

MyFeetAreCold Tue 10-Jun-14 00:02:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GertyD Tue 10-Jun-14 17:25:24

It was confirmed last night that it would be a full adoption rather than a guardianship thing.

It is scary. We want to do the best we can and the right thing my every one involved. I was also wrong about his age, he is now 7.

Hels20 Tue 10-Jun-14 18:10:03

I honestly don't know what I would do in your situation. So hard for you and also hard for your children. Of course - have huge sympathy for the poor little boy who is in the middle of all of this.

Don't feel bad about making a hard decision that is right for your family and may ultimately be right for him. Some people have to turn away children - however hard it is. You would have to be reasonably confident that you could cope - do you have a good support network which I think is key?

I would be rooting for you to take in this little boy but it is a huge ask - and if I had children of your children's ages, I am not sure I would.

We would all be here to support you if you proceed. How much time do you have to make a decision?

GertyD Tue 10-Jun-14 20:08:02

His social worker is on annual leave until Monday, so we are giving ourselves this week to think about it. It would mean that we would not be able to have the baby we planned to have next year. That is, maybe selfishly, a bit upsetting. Three children is enough - four would be bonkers.

GertyD Sat 14-Jun-14 10:27:17

DH has said he doesn't want to do this, that he feels like we are the ones always dealing with other family members drama. He says he feels numb towards the boy, and can't see him in our family sad

I want this little boy. I want to help him and believe we can grow to love him as much as our own and manage his issues.

Obviously it has to be a joint decision so all the whole DH is against it, we can't go forward.

DH has a big heart and may change his mind. This may be fear talking but I am not sure. I think it is because we would not have further babies if we did this and DH is desperate for one more.

Italiangreyhound Sat 14-Jun-14 10:35:54

Oh Gerty what a nightmare situation to be in.

All I can say is that it is important for you and dh to be on the same page, as you already know. I really hope you will come to agreement on this.

Are you young enough for more children, are other children on the cards?

Thinking of you.

wherethewildthingis Sat 14-Jun-14 21:59:45

Hello, sorry to intrude here, I always feel its not really a place for social workers to come. Anyway I wanted to say that really, there is absolutely no need to look immediately to adoption. There is something called kinship fostering (regulation 24) which is commonly used with families. You go through an assessment which takes sixteen week. Generally the child is placed with you (after some preliminary checks) while the assessment takes place. I shouldn't say this but in my experience you would get more support under this arrangement ( as the local authority retains responsibility for the child) than if you adopted.
Good luck.

GertyD Tue 17-Jun-14 17:50:49

Thanks for the replies. They are really helpful and I can see I will have a lot to read through.

So, DH has u-turned and wants to go for it and the social worker is visiting us next Wednesday.

She advised that his mother is pregnant again and due to give birth in the next couple of weeks to a girl. They are seeking to take the child at birthsad

GertyD Tue 17-Jun-14 17:51:58

Wherethewildthingis, the Social Worker mentioned that and is very keen to support us through it.

Hels20 Tue 17-Jun-14 19:28:32

Are you being asked to take the mother's new baby at birth, too?

sebsmummy1 Tue 17-Jun-14 19:43:15

Hels makes a good point. It was my understanding that the authorities liked to place the children together with their siblings. I can't help wonder if it would be better for the child to find a new parent alongside his sister.

I am also minded of a story I read about 6 months ago that I think was linked from this site. It was of a family who adopted a child of a similar age who had come from a troubled family situation where their mother was a drug addict. She had emotional detachment disorder as a result of having her needs ignored from an early age and developed very manipulative behaviour that basically ended in the adoption breaking down.

I'm not saying this will happen in your situation but I do understand why people have been quite negative to the idea. You can go into it with the absolute best will in the world but unfortunately if the child is damaged it is sometimes impossible to break through the wall

Wishing you all the best and I think the kinship suggestion is absolutely the best way if you decide to go ahead.

GertyD Wed 18-Jun-14 00:25:56

I honestly do not know whether she was suggesting we take the baby as well. It may be just information she was giving.

She was saying that the mother had met the threshold for them to be able to apply to the court to take the baby. She was talking generally about her and asking questions as DH and her spent lots of time together as kids and teens.

Hels20 Wed 18-Jun-14 06:54:12

If you take the 7 year old, they will ask you to at least consider taking the baby - if they seek a permanent care order for the baby. They always want to try and keep siblings together if possible (especially if you are family). Of course, you should feel no pressure and only do what you feel you can manage.

GertyD Wed 25-Jun-14 16:38:19

So the social worker has just visited us, and it went well. It was scary but we are both positive about this.

The little unborn baby girl had been placed on the child protection register, and they are seeking to take her from birth. They don't expect us to take her and instead want to place her with a family who are looking to adopt a baby. It is sad that we can't take her too though sad

We start a schedule 4 assessment next Thursday. His foster carer has just given notice to end the placement so the pressure is well on.

Blimey. Need a wine

Italiangreyhound Wed 25-Jun-14 18:09:00

Hope all will work out well.

hackneyLass Fri 27-Jun-14 02:30:22

Hi GertyD, - sorry for the epic post - our nephews age 4 & 5 come to live with us 4 months ago from a similar situation under a Special Guardianship Order (SGO). It is hard, really hard.

We agreed to take the boys for similar reasons you give but we were totally unprepared for the realities and had no real understanding of what we were getting ourselves into.

Firstly the boys are much more challenging than we ever expected. They are emotionally & behaviourally much younger than their age, have tantrums, risky behaviour, wetting & soiling etc etc. This probably sounds familiar to other adoptive parents here, but we were quite literally unprepared, weren't given any advice about what to expect.

Secondly we received very little support from the LA (a different one to where we live), much less I think than if we had been non-related adopters: no adoption courses, no advice about what to do in the first days or weeks after the boys came to us, no mention of attachment or challenging behaviour etc.

Thirdly an SGO is different to adoption in that the birth parents are still recognised as parents, even though they are no longer looking after the child/ren. In our case it means we still have to deal with the birth parents for 6 visits a year which we have to organise, manage and deal with the emotional fall-out. I am not looking forward to these one bit.

Tbh I would be concerned about the effect on your children, especially your 2yo. The effect on our 13yo has sadly been very negative. Of course the SWs asked him beforehand if he wanted the boys to come to us and of course he said "yes" - but how could he know what he was saying "yes" to? I won't go into details but the situation has resulted in him having quite severe psychological problems of his own.

I would put aside the fact that one of you is related to the boy, and all the pressures that brings from yourselves and other family members and consider: you would in effect be adopting an 7yo from an abusive situation (prior to the foster care) with possible psychological issues while you have a toddler (and an older child). And if you get an SGO you may have to deal with contact with the birth parents.

I know this sounds bleak and your experience may very different. I am hoping we are just having a tricky transition & I can post here in a year's time that it is all roses.

I suggest you get advice from the Family Rights Group (; push the LA to pay for legal advice from a good family lawyer; push for information about any psychological & behavioural issues the child has or may have; make friends with the boy's current school. And look really carefully at how you would cope.

hackneyLass Fri 27-Jun-14 02:40:17

Christ I'm sorry for such a bleak post. Still worth talking to the Family Rights Group. And I will certainly join you in a wine or winewine

GertyD Fri 27-Jun-14 08:52:08

Thank you Hackney, your post, though showing the negatives was actually very helpful.

We are meeting him tomorrow and I am concerned at how pushy the SW is being- I am putting that down to her having to meet her targets.

He is with CAMHS and seeing a therapist. I have asked to see his full report and SW says this will be supplied. She is on about placing him with us on some kind of foster arrangement before the SGO but this is only if they can fast track our assessments and his present foster mum agreeing to keep him a bit longer.

To be honest, I am fully expecting bed wetting, attention seeking behaviours of various forms, sudden unexplained outbursts and other challenges from him. I am guess I am thinking we will just deal with them as they arise and work with his CAMHS worker and other family members who are offering support.

I am truly terrified of him hurting my youngest, but this is a fear I have with no fact to support it. He has never shown violent or aggressive traits and plays nicely with other children. I still have that fear though. This is so scary, but the small voice inside me keeps saying to give this a chance as we are his only chance. It is us or permanent care.

hackneyLass Fri 27-Jun-14 12:06:28

Hi GertyD - Hope it goes well meeting him tomorrow!

I think you are probably right about your SW needing to meet targets, and she will be very nice to you to get you on board. We found out in retrospect the SWs contacted us only a month before a judge-imposed deadline for finding a permanent solution for our DNs. No wonder the SW we met was very breezy & optimistic, "these children just need some good parenting" etc.

I think it's really positive that your DN would be able to continue at his school so he has continuity of friends & support. Its taken us ages to get all that in place.

Re the behaviour: its not necessarily aggressive behaviour towards your 2yo, it more juggling the competing immediate needs / demands (which may manifest in different ways over the years). My two, though 4 and 5, act like toddlers with attention-seeking & risky behaviours, & don't like it if I pay any attention to my older son, try to use the phone, go to the toilet etc. We have to keep working to make sure my son does not feel excluded (so at the moment lots of late night watching world cup football over takeaway pizza with his dad). Its great your boy is already with CAMHS so you won't have to wait for a referral.

Remember the SW is acting for the child, not you, so you have to look after yourselves, get informed, keep a good diary & notes (follow up meetings/phone calls with emails so you have a paper trail; you will deal with many people from the LA, school, GP, CAMHS, court etc and SWs have a high turnover). Read the adoption boards / literature early so you know what you might experience (cos a SW against a tight time target won't tell you any of that).

Contact the FRG to find out about what support you may get from the LA, especially if you go the SGO route (we found the SWs inexperienced in SGOs). For example the LA should pay for you to have independent legal advice; possibly a means-tested allowance, a settling-in grant and other expenses (we got a small amount towards removal costs of moving to a bigger house). All given grudgingly and after months of wrangling.

Family members: yes, lots promised to support us when they thought the other option was adoption. Now they only really contact us to ask to see the boys, which can be very disruptive (more unsettled behaviour), so take offers of support with a pinch of salt. Or pin them down to a particular task. For instance I have asked 2 family members to accompany me on contact visits with the birth parents and, I hope, help to organise them in the future.

Finally, I have to say this to you in case no-one else does. You are not his only chance. If he did not come to you he would be with a foster carer / family who would be lovely and very experienced in helping him through his early experiences (if you are not sure about that read MN's foster and and adoption boards, they are full of wonderful FCs). In these situations where the authorities are pushing for a quick resolution and family members don't want to "lose" a child there is a huge feeling of jeopardy and very heightened stakes. However you have to think very carefully about what is right for your existing family - your DH and DCs. Try and minimise the feeling of "this is the right thing to do" as that won't be very helpful when times are tough. You don't want to end up feeling that you are mopping up other people's problems (if you see what I mean).

Let us know how it goes tomorrow!

64x32x24 Fri 27-Jun-14 13:03:14

I've been following this and just wanted to share a thought with you, do with it as you will, I'm not experienced in these questions (hoping to adopt soon).

You said 'we are his only chance. It is us or permanent care'. Is this something the SW told you?

If that is true, it indicates that the boy is basically seen as 'un-adoptable'. They wouldn't seek an adoptive family for him, probably because of his difficult behaviour (his age and sex alone would make him difficult, but not impossible to place). That tells you something about how significant his difficult behaviour is. It tells you that his behaviour issues would demand sacrifices of you that are over and above what normal adopters would be expected to make. And 'normal' adopters are expected to make A LOT of sacrifices (if need be).

But then, it might not be true. In which case, it would be a case of the SW 'bullying' you into saying yes, guilt-tripping you, manipulating you. Which would make me take any promises they make, regarding support for instance, or even simple things such as the boy being able to remain at his current school (just an example) - with a huge grain of salt. It would indicate that they are weaving a tale with the intention of getting you to say yes.

And yes to what HackneyLass says. Permanent foster care is sometimes seen as such a bad thing, but it can have excellent outcomes. In fact, in some cases, permanent foster care would be a better option than the alternative. I am not saying that this is true, but it is possible, that the right FC setting might be a better chance for this little boy than being placed with you, where he would have to share his new parents with a toddler and a teenager. So think carefully - you are NOT his only chance. You are not even necessarily his best option.

All that said, in your position, I would find it VERY hard to say 'no'. I feel for you, and wish you the best of luck, whatever you end up doing.

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