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Can we adopt cousins daughter whose already in pre adoptive placement?

(30 Posts)
AnnieBee1 Sun 10-Jul-16 00:35:39

We have only just found out my cousin had a daughter who has been in foster care for two years (with a prospective adoptive family for two months). We have never been contacted by social services to ask if we would care for her but when I spoke to her social worker two weeks ago she took lots of details and is doing background checks. As far as I know the social services don't yet have legal authority to adopt the child yet but there's a court date this month.

Are we too late to offer her a family? What should we do? This is so difficult to think that our blood relative will be outwits the family forever ?

GirlsWhoWearGlasses Sun 10-Jul-16 07:24:32

That's a very difficult situation. I guess the key is to look at what's likely to be best for the child. They'll have had disruption already, moving into foster care then moving into what they will have been told is their forever family. What impact would moving them again have?

Legally then it's likely you do have a right to be assessed, but whether that is the child's best interests, I would question. I'm sorry, that's probably not what you want to hear, but that's my opinion.

MintyLizzy9 Sun 10-Jul-16 07:27:10

If the child is already with her adoptive family then the courts will already have granted the placement order. This is the legal go ahead for the child to be adopted. It is very uncommon for children to be removed from adoptive families even prior to the final adoption order being granted.

I would suggest that you get a solicitor to advise you as the legalities and personal circumstances mean that every case is so very different.

I know in my sons case his birth parents were asked to put forward any family or friends whom they wanted to be considered as foster carers for him and they were the only people to be assessed. Have you spoken to your cousin?

MintyLizzy9 Sun 10-Jul-16 07:29:32

And it goes without saying that what girls says about further disruption to the child and to consider what is best for her now. flowers

PlugUgly Sun 10-Jul-16 07:35:24

Please please don't do this.... 'Blood relative' .... sorry to be harsh but so what? blood means nothing, being in a family is not about the red stuff, leave the child alone, they will have already bonded, if you destroy this you will face the consequences later on, please don't put yourself first in this, you really are not putting the child first if you do this.

TearingDownTheWall Sun 10-Jul-16 09:14:40

Do you know anything about the child's background and needs? Do you have birth children? Parenting a child with a background of trauma is intense and I would suggest doing as much reading as possible in the time you have available. The threads here and adoption uk can give you a snapshot of the kind of issues children with traumatic past a can present.
The LA should have assessed birth family members first before going to adoptive placement and clearly this didn't happen. I would echo previous posters though - think very carefully about the impact yet another move will have on this child, whether you are equipped to parent a traumatised child, how you will manage relationships with your wider family if you become parents to your cousins child - this will be very traumatic for everyone involved so be sure that you feel the child's best interest is served by this.

jellyfishschool Sun 10-Jul-16 10:07:27

I think it is naïve to think that "blood" means nothing - biological connections are very significant, and a court would consider them significant, while also considering the issues of disruption and existing attachments. There is a well known case (I am so sorry but I have forgotten the name of it... I will try to find it) where a court considered a similar situation and found, in that case, in favour of the bio family, even though there would be disruption and even though the child was attached. It will be assessed as an individual case so continue to liaise with the social workers, read up on parenting (if you are not a parent) and on parenting children with extra needs as other posters have said, and talk to a solicitor as other posters have said. I hope it all works out for the best.

jellyfishschool Sun 10-Jul-16 10:10:31

www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/a-b-v-rotherham-met-boro-council.pdf

jellyfishschool Sun 10-Jul-16 10:13:45

If the court decides on adoption outside the bio family, you can also discuss having on-going face to face contact with the child - see the other thread on here direct vs indirect contact.

Pogmella Sun 10-Jul-16 10:31:49

Would your cousin even want this? If she wasn't open about her child going into care she might not want the child in her extended family.

fasparent Sun 10-Jul-16 11:13:44

They are obliged too do background checks and suitability of placement, Will look at SGO possability's which courts may be favour rather than Adoption.
The childs history and pernamency outcomes will set the presedent, also thier wishes and preferance.

Kr1stina Sun 10-Jul-16 11:29:23

I'm wondering how you have just found out about this two year old child? If you are close to your cousin and her parents , surely you woudl have noticed that she had a child ?

And why has the child been in foster care for two years ? Didn't any siblings or the grandparents want to care for her?

PlugUgly Sun 10-Jul-16 12:16:37

No Jellyfish, it's not naive, it is opinion, and one borne from experience.
There are also many people unknowingly being brought up as their biological family when they do not actually have the same 'blood connection' with no detriment to themselves.
It is ALL about attachment, not blood , otherwise there would not be the countless successful adoptions that there are if we were all hung up on this notion

AnnieBee1 Sun 10-Jul-16 12:43:46

My cousin is the child biological father. He moved about 2 hours away before the child was born and we haven't maintained contact with him, he's not vert stable and has been in and out of prison for years.

My husband and I have two grown up kids, have previously fostered and I've previously worked in social work so we have experience of carin for children who have experienced trauma and understand attachment, we feel we could support a child through a move and support her through any attachment difficulties.

I have thought nothing more that wether this is the best thing for the little girl, she's only been in her placement for less than two months on a fostering basis as social services are applying for a permenance order with authority to adopt the child, the child's mother is still contesting this so the placement was never guaranteed.

This little girl has a birth family who are willing and able to love, support and care for her amd give her the life she deserves. What child in care doesn't long for that?

We would have taken her in years ago if we had known about her, family is extremely important to us 😢

Pogmella Sun 10-Jul-16 12:51:19

I suppose I feel if you're not that close to your cousin then some shared DNA doesn't (to me) count for much. I am from a blended family and am closest to siblings I have the least shared genealogy with, and actually estranged from a close relative so that's what's informing that opinion.

AnnieBee1 Sun 10-Jul-16 13:11:05

I am he ever close to the child's wider paternal family and her three paternal half siblings so she would benefit from those relationships also.

I should maybe have mentioned that the child is in Scotland, we are in England.

Pogmella Sun 10-Jul-16 13:41:16

Does the child live somewhere with a strong regional accent? That would be something else to consider. My niece grew up in Glasgow (we're SW England) when she was small she couldn't understand us.

Whatever happens the child is going to be with someone who wants them very much flowers

Kr1stina Sun 10-Jul-16 13:55:44

Pogmella - everywhere has an accent so don't feel embarrassed about yours . If you Try speaking a little slower and clearer and use less local dialect , I'm sure your niece will learn to umderstand you

If the OP is the best placement for the child, SS won't refuse to move her because the OP has an accent .

jellyfishschool Sun 10-Jul-16 14:11:36

plugugly, I apologise for the use of the word naïve if that offended, and your opinion is of course valid, but afaik there is no research to back up your opinion, and the research goes the other way. it is always complicated in these matters.

AnnieBee1 Sun 10-Jul-16 14:35:43

I've read the Rotherham case above. It sounds heartbreaking for all involved. As much as id be willing for the effort and cost to have the little one live with us and be a part of our family I'm not sure I could put the little one and the family she is with now through such a lengthy court process, while all the time she is becoming increasingly attached and settling into her new life with them. I suppose I didn't consider how long a process it could be and the thought of disrupting her life after such a long time seems way worse than after only a few months.

I'm assuming that case went to court because social services didn't want to move her to her aunt?

If so why would they refuse if nothing in the assessment proces was to rule us out? We've already been approved as foster caters until three years ago.

Can social services make that decision or does it have to be a sheriff?

And if she is adopted by the family she is with now can contact with us ever be an option.

Social workers contacted the child's oldest half sibling so is only just 18 to discuss annual indirect contact (which is how we found out about the child). Who makes these decisions? Social services or the sheriff?

Sorry lots of questions. I do hVe a lawyers appointment next week so hopefully have more answers next week.

TearingDownTheWall Sun 10-Jul-16 14:54:04

The Rotherham case I think was fairly unique, as acknowledged by the judge in paragraph 3. In that instance, the LA believed they had assessed all interested parties, placement orders had been made and they were in the process of hearing the adoption order. However the birth mother and her family had lied about the father, and the wrong man had not only been put on the birth certificate but claimed paternity when interviewed by social services. In that case, the judge felt the sw and guardian hadn't been robust enough ( the true birth father was black whereas the man interviewed as father and birth mum was white). This was also complex as the birth father didn't want to look after the child but to have his sister become the parent.
It took a while to resolve because the judge had to essentially overturn the original placement order and agree that the previous decisions that followed should be overturned. It sounds like your cousins child hadn't yet reached that stage. The sw team felt the child's best interest was to stay with the adopters, the head of children's services felt differently hence there was no clear route to resolving this easily.

It's obviously a very difficult position for all parties and I think getting legal advice is an absolute must.

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Sun 10-Jul-16 15:49:39

The research would tell us that the fewer moves the better. 'Blood' really doesn't come into it.

It is such a shame that this child has only recently been moved to an adoptive placement because from what you say you would be ideally placed. But another move shouldn't be undertaken lightly (and courts don't always give attachment the importance it deserves) If she moves to you that is at least four moves. That's quite a lot for her ability to form strong attachments to survive.

Would direct contact be a possibility for you? You might get court ordered contact which would give her the chance to know her birth family?

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Sun 10-Jul-16 15:53:59

Most adopters have contact agreements - I'd say the vast majority are for letterbox contact - but they aren't enforceable. You can apply to a court for contact with any child though AFAIK? Although I think once adoption orders are made you'd have to apply for permission to apply for contact. Is that right - I know someone here will know?!

Chicklette Sun 10-Jul-16 21:31:25

I would personally imagine that being adopted by a relative with a shared family history would be very relevant to a child. I'm not saying that it always the best thing, but it is certainly a relevant consideration. The 'blood' part is perhaps not so important but the ability to join the dots and fill in bits of information could be very helpful during a persons life.

The adoption system in Scotland is quite different. In Scotland children are routinely placed before adoption orders are granted and even before permanency has been legally decided to avoid children being moved from foster carer to foster carer. It also cuts down on the time that children spend in a conventional care setting and increases the time children live with the family that eventually adopts them. So as a potential adopter, you tend to have your child living with you on a fostering placement whilst all the legal stuff is worked out. With this in mind, you are not too late to apply. I hope you get all the information available and that things work out in the best interest of the child, however it plays out. Of course it will be devastating for the potential adopters but as everyone has already said, it is the long term interests of the child that are paramount.

AnnieBee1 Sun 10-Jul-16 22:01:02

Thank you everyone for your reply's. It's certainly given us things to think about. Obviously we still need to find out where we stand legally and find out more about the child, her needs and what her understanding of her current placement is. Of course we want what is best for her and while I do believe it'd be best for her to be raised within her extended family, not if it is likely to traumatise her further. At the very minimum I hope that we can share some family details, photos with her and maybe maintain some level of contact but we will need to see how things work out for her.

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