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Explaining death of birth parent

(14 Posts)
unicornpoopoop Thu 15-Dec-16 10:11:51

This probably isn't quite the right place to post but hoping someone may have some advice.

My (now) husbands son came to live with us when he was 10months old due to SS intervention.

When he was 18months his birth mother died.

He's now 5 and knows that he had another mum that died but is starting to ask more questions and is getting very confused.

Lots of people have given him their opinions and I think it's all confusing him. No ones explained to him that he wasn't living with her or why as I feel now she's dead everyone wants to keep the rose tinted version of events up.

I feel this is potentially more harmful in the long run. At some point surely he's going to need to know that he wasn't actually living with her and the events surrounding that. We have kept up contact with her side of the family and naturally they only want the positive to be painted.

He goes from laughing about the situation whilst telling people to at other times getting upset.

What is the best way of explaining? And although he has no memory of her, could he have deep rooted psychological problems attached to his early life?

fasparent Thu 15-Dec-16 13:02:38

Think you have too explain in the kindest way, lots of love will always have been mummy no matter what has happened in the past.
We did a special day. sent off lots of balloon's for Mummy and her special angels who look after her, took lots of photo's for special book we prepared.

RatherBeIndoors Thu 15-Dec-16 13:13:39

It sounds like SS have not fully done their job - they should have provided you and DH with suitable lifestory materials to share with your son, to help him process the facts about his early life. I'm not saying the lifestory books are always great, but the concept is very important. I would ask SS to do one, and at the same time look at Joy Rees for some great free online samples about adding to lifestory books yourself. Given the ongoing connections with other members of the birth family, I'd suggest getting SS to provide the materials might help you because it keeps you out of any claim of slanting the history, and you are in a pretty delicate position. If your LA offer it, I'd also see if you can go on any post-adoption training about lifestory work, to give you more confidence and tips about how to handle things as they come up.

It's all going to be part of developing your child's sense of self, and his focus on this at the moment is expressing confusion that you can definitely help with. My view is that it shouldn't be fudged, but should be age-appropriate. Only you are going to know what level of information he'll be able to accept and understand.

And to answer your last question, I'd say that the pre-natal and first 10 months of your son's life will have had an impact, but it's impossible to say what that will be and how much it will affect him. His security will most likely come through you, and especially with other family members being unhelpful and contradictory, he's really going to need you to be rock solid for him.

Lifestory stuff can feel a bit scary but it sounds like your instinct it already spot on - it's important to do it, honestly and gently, and have it dripfeed through so it becomes another layer of who they are without a big dramatic reveal.

Italiangreyhound Thu 15-Dec-16 22:17:52

unicorn, I think RatherBeIndoors has it spot on, life story book, put together really sensitively, absolutely truthful but age appropriate. Just because birth mum could not look after him I am sure she still loved him, even if in her own way, and it should be possible to express this in a suitable way without obscuring the fact that she was not able to look after him.

"And although he has no memory of her, could he have deep rooted psychological problems attached to his early life?" Yes, absolutely, you need some post adoption support to understand this and how it might have impacted him and how best to help him.

Actually I feel for him being pre-vernal at the time of loss can sometimes make it even harder to be able to communicate about. So I would say some professional help is best - to prepare you and his dad for the best out comes for him. It's best to prepare for issues and then hopefully you will be get the best outcomes.

Personally, I would say that what others tell him should be viewed through the prism of things he knows to be true from home. So if extended family members tell him stuff that is a surprise he needs to be able to come home, talk to you and dad about it and get the full picture. It may be that extended family exaggerate or do not know the full story, and he needs to learn to pick what is true from what they say. It is a tough task, but we all do it to an extent. We all filter what others tell us.

Good luck thanks

unicornpoopoop Thu 15-Dec-16 23:29:58

Thanks everyone.

Unfortunately ss decided that once he was with us, they didn't need to intervene or help any further as he was with a family member and safe. They said they would only become involved if he was to return back to his mum which obviously never happened so we were never offered any further support.

I agree that one of the main problems seems to be that as he was so young he literally has no memory to even comprehend what/who we're talking about and he is creating a picture himself in his head.

I'm hoping as he gets older, his understanding will improve.

We have a box of memories that we have created. I will look up life books to see if there is anything we can add there.

Italiangreyhound Fri 16-Dec-16 00:27:59

unicorn just curious but do you think you would ever adopt him? If you did would you be able to access support?

unicornpoopoop Fri 16-Dec-16 06:56:32

Italian - I would like to but as he still has contact with that side of the family, we know they wouldn't like it. So we just settled for parental responsibility.

crispandcheesesandwichplease Fri 16-Dec-16 14:51:48

Hi unicorn, just try and keep what you say to him age appropriate and balanced. My line to our DC when they were young was just 'it's very hard to look after children and keep them safe and your birth mum loved you but couldn't manage to do that'. As they got older and became more curious you can add info as you deem appropriate.

I found that giving some clear but simple answers when young did satisfy our child's questions.

We have birth family around too and that is a difficult one to police in terms of what our DC is told but it is manageable.

crispandcheesesandwichplease Fri 16-Dec-16 14:53:54

PS - You may find, as we did, that when he gets younger he may want you to adopt him to underline the permanency of his position with you.

Italiangreyhound Fri 16-Dec-16 22:07:51

unicorn I totally get that extended family may have views. But in the long run please do what * you* want and what is best for your son.

Italiangreyhound Fri 16-Dec-16 22:19:17

I only say this because:

(In no particular order):

If you are his mum, in all but name, then your status in his life should be reflected in law IMHO

If any relationship breakdown happened between you and your husband I do not know what your legal rights would be with regard to access to your son.It may be fine. No idea.

I do not know whether you would have a better chance to access specialist (potentially expensive) therapy/ theraplay for him if he needed it in the future.

Also, whether, not that you need a reason or excuse you could 'sell' the adoption to his birth mum's side of the family on the basis that you could access this I'd you adopted him.

I do wonder if you could even legally adopt him and just not tell that side of the family.

Although if possible, and you chose to do that, I would feel the truth would come out!

So better to just adopt and then tell them matter of factly after the fact if you chose to go down the initially secretive route!

Are they elderly? Is it likely they won't be around to see him into adulthood?

Sorry, if that sounds cruel but people who would put their own feelings and desires over the welfare of a small child are people I would (excuse my French) really not give a fuck about.

Do what is right for you, your dh ... And most of all your son.

Bless you. flowers

unicornpoopoop Fri 16-Dec-16 22:59:59

I looked into it a few years ago and from what I remember the family have to give permission... That or they can contest it.

And usually they don't like to approve adoption if there is still a link to the biological side.

It is hard as I am his mum in all but official name. He just started school but they required a birth certificate. After that, they changed me from 'mum' to 'step-mum'.

Italiangreyhound Fri 16-Dec-16 23:15:28

unicorn I don't know if they get to contest it. I mean he was taken from her care and she is now dead so it does seem crazy.

If he ever needs specialist help because of his past then maybe that would 've a selling point for them. I can't see why they would object really. It may be that they see him as last link to her but they would not be losing him.anyway, I am sure you do not wish to rock the boat but just to be sware they may 've acwat for them to approve it,bid it were best for him.

Maybe one day he will ask for you to adopt him and then they would need to decide to approve or to tell him to his face why they would stand on the way of happiness for a child.

Italiangreyhound Fri 16-Dec-16 23:17:36


... 've acwat for them to approve it,bid it were best for him

Should be

... be a way for them to approve it, if it were best for him...

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