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Questioning the relevance of all this info the social worker wants....

(34 Posts)
randomtask Fri 07-Aug-09 16:31:25

I'm adopting DSS (aged 8), his mother (DH's first wife) died when DSS was 3, DH and I got married last year. As far as DSS is concerned, I'm Mummy and then there's 'Mummy Up There' who he remembers well. The only reason for the adoption is to make the legal relationship clearer and also for when DH and I have more children.

I've filled in forms about why I want to adopt him, what I'd like his future to be, who my family's names and what their professions are, we've all filled in forms (inc DSS) about each others personality and described ourselves physically. TBH, apart from the CRB and 'court form' I've felt these are all a bit daft as whatever happens I'll remain as 'Mummy' but I've appreciated that it's the system.

DH met the social worker today to 'see that he agrees to me adopting his son hmm and to find out about his birth mother'. I didn't need to be there and it seemed quite obvious she didn't want me to be.

She was there for two hours, wanted DH to tell her about his relationship with DSS's mother from getting together to her death, wanted to know about DSS's reaction to her death (fair enough) and will 'write a report'. DH now has to write a 'report' himself on his first wife's personality etc to send to the social worker. Now I understand all the rest of the stuff, but what relevance does this have to whether I'll be a 'good mother' or DSS's future life? DH says it'll 'go on file' so DSS can look at it in the future if he wants. Well DSS still sees all his mothers family (as we have told the social worker-they seem more interested in her family than mine) and is surrounded by people who will answer his questions with love and understanding, as and when they come.

I guess what I'm really fed up with is feeling like DSS will forever feel like 'the boy whose Mum died' and he's been getting over that in the last year. sad

Any wisdom or humour would be appreciated!

TheCrackFox Fri 07-Aug-09 16:50:34

Actually, I don't think you are being unreasonable. It all seems a bit over the top.

However, like a lot of professions there seems to be one hell of a huge amount of arse covering going on at the moment.

And to be very cynical it is probably quite a nice afternoons work for the social worker. Might give him/her a break from some of the scary types they have to deal with that spit in their face/ throw dog poo at them or call them all the names under the sun.

Just breath and count to ten. Before you know it you will be his adopted mum and the SS will be out of your lives.

SixtyFootDoll Fri 07-Aug-09 16:58:55

Does all seem a bit strange as you all live together as a family anyway.
Typicla of the bureacracy that blights all our public services I am afraid.

Hope it is all sorted soon.

Podrick Fri 07-Aug-09 17:10:41

I am assuming you have to go through a process designed for people in different circumstances - seems very OTT and you have my sympathy.

randomtask Fri 07-Aug-09 17:11:27

The social worker only does step parent adoptions and yes, seems to love popping round and having a cup of tea. She's a lovely lady who always seems positive and even suggested we foster in the future as we're such 'inclusive people who welcome others into our family'....

Just fed up with systems and feeling like DSS will never be allowed to be a 'normal child'.

Wondering if DSS has access to all these records, does it mean I do? My sister, someone from church, DSS's school, doctors etc have all written about me and DSS but I don't know what any of them have said (apart from it must be positive as SS are still happy)!

randomtask Fri 07-Aug-09 17:14:32

Podrick - I've been understanding about 'the system' but I get wound up that it causes problems for the child. I'm now worried we'll be in court and they'll talk about DSS's mother's personality and DSS might struggle with that. I know he's fine talking to us about her but somehow that's different.

I know of someone who has to (as far as SS are concerned) tell their DC about their birth family as 'it's important they don't lose their past/ties'. The poor DC's father abused them sexually and the mother was 'neglectful'. But it's important their reminded of it. Just winds me up that common sense doesn't seem to come into it.

MummyDragon Fri 07-Aug-09 20:14:48

randomtask you're right, it does sound ridiculous, but I suppose that (God forbid) if something went wrong, years down the line, SS would have to prove that they had ticked all the boxes prior to the adoption, so to speak ...

As for going to court and DSS hearing about his birth mum: would he need to go to court? 8 is pretty young for that. Just carry on being the loving, caring mum that you obviously are, and you will all be able to get through it and enjoy being an "official" family once all this bollocks hoop-jumping is over smile

I was adopted as a baby. Adoptive mums are wonderful, wonderful ladies and I love you all grin

chegirl Fri 07-Aug-09 20:26:01

random I sympathise. I adopted a related child. I very quickly became aware that we were being squeezed into the more 'traditional' adoption model. I had absolutely no problem being checked and assessed (we went throught the same process as everyone else) but what really annoyed me was the stock questions we HAD to answer.

For eg. What sort of child would you consider adopting (umm the one sat on my lap), How would you welcome a child into your home (well we have already done that bit when we bought him home from court), How will you support his realtionship with his extended birth family (you mean us? Or maybe his grandparents, uncles, aunties and cousins that he sees on a regular basis). etc, etc.

It made the whole process so loooong! We would sit there puzzling how to answer these questions without seeming sarky.

Anyway, this must be a difficult and frustrating time for you. I really hope the whole thing goes smoothly as possible. I hope that your DSS is not too upset by the whole thing.

YANBU by the way smile

slowreadingprogress Fri 07-Aug-09 20:31:26

totally understandably, you are over-personalising this.

There will be just one or two cases out there where a parent is being bullied and abused into letting a step adoption go ahead. Therefore the system puts in place a check and balance to ensure that there is at least one chance for the biological parent to speak alone. Whether that would in reality help or not I can't say but the system has to try to cover issues.

If a child is adopted by a step parent, there may be some families who totally blank what went before. Not you, clearly, but some. And again, the system has to put in place checks and balances to ensure that the SS file carries a full picture for the child so that in future they are able to access info about their deceased parent if they can't any other way.

There are some families where it is simply inappropriate for a step parent to adopt a child. The system has to have the tools to unearth those families

You're just in the middle of it and it's a very personal 'impersonal' system, imo.

And btw what you were mentioning about your friends having to tell their adoptive child about their birth family is evidence based and good practice - children's self esteem heavily relies on a firm sense of identity and this has to come from an understanding of where they came from. It's important. No SW would want an adoptive parent to say "your dad sexually abused you and your mum was neglectful" clearly not. It's not about that but about keeping open the channels of communication about the past in an age appropriate way.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Fri 07-Aug-09 20:36:06

This is an adoption and things will have to be done as with any adoption as well as extra questions and forms because of the nature of your family.

Just suck it up and look forward to being his mummy.

And of course they are going to be interested in his biological mother's family. How they feel about the adoption is just part of that.

randomtask Sat 08-Aug-09 17:38:06

We've (obviously) been fine about them being interested in DSS's mothers family as well, they're family. As we've told the SW, he regularly sees them (in fact they've just brought him home from a week with them) but it's just odd they ask more about that than my parents who regularly look after him and who will be the 'new family' and thus the risk that SS need to check IYSWIM. They want to talk to his 'other' family which is fine and understandable but still haven't asked anything about my family apart from their age and occupations.

He has to go to court as he has to 'be there'. He's fine with that (once we explained that not all courts were because you'd been naughty) and it'll be done in a 'family way' I'm just worried that if they do a 'brief resume' about his past he might be shaken up by it a bit. We talk about his Mummy regularly, it's just nobody 'official' has.

We have a box in the loft with lots of info about his Mummy in it for when he wants to see it. It has photos, diarys, her art pads, favourite books, cd's etc in it and so it just seems a bit silly that DSS can then go and read something DH wrote when he'd ask him anyway. I guess it's just safe guarding in case something happens.

As for people being reminded of their birth families, I agree with it as I know it's about identity but if your only memories are bad and you have to be regularly shown 'files' then I think it'd be upsetting and I know it is for those children.

lisad123 Sat 08-Aug-09 17:55:48

did you know that theres a werid part of adoption from Step parents, that the birth parent has to give up rights and adopt their own child! shock
TBH this is why my friends husband just applied for PR rather than adoption.

I hope your ok, SW souds like a nosey cow grin

Mezley Sat 08-Aug-09 18:13:51

Agree with slow reading, you are in an extraordinary position. You are supported by everyone around you, your own family DSS family, dh etc, but it is the system designed to root out anything untoward.

As regards to the family court issue I would definitely speak to the SW or the person heading the court proceedings (often a Family liason officer) and air your concerns. They should be able to put your mind at rest as to what information will be revealed. It must be made clear to them what you and dh (you need a united front on this) consider to be in DSS best interests, and for them to explain the procedure.

You sound like a wonderful mum and you clearly deserve for things to go well. Just remember that this is a very short period in all your lives even though the process seems like a long one. You can then put all the administration behind you and get on with being the caring family you clearly are.
Best of luck to you. smile

Wilts Sat 08-Aug-09 18:20:49

Lisad123- the law has changed fairly recently, so the mum ( if step dad adopting) no longer has to adopt the child as well.

We are currently going through step parent adoption and while I am obviously part of the process Dh is the sole applicant.

It may be worth letting your friend know, just in case they would still like to go ahead

Wilts Sat 08-Aug-09 18:37:33

Randomtask- Although we know Ds has to attend court, we will be having two hearings.
One 'formal' one in which the adoption order is granted, and a second informal one (which ds will attend).

I completely understand your concerns at your Dss attending court, while my situation is completely different- we are going through a contested adoption, I would not wish Ds to hear what will be said in court.
Which is why I am glad he only has to be present for the second hearing.

Is it worth seeing if that could happen in your case?

Good luck

NanaNina Sat 08-Aug-09 18:58:48

If I were you i would take notice of "slow reading progress" and "mezley" as they are giving you helpful information/advice. I think Lisad 123 needs to be more careful about her comments re social worker being "a nosey cow" she clearly has no idea of the process or procedures involved in step parenting adoption. I can assure her that s.w.s are not "nosey cows" - they are merely doing their job with the best interests of the children at heart, though I know sometimes all the interviews/discussions can seem endless.

Would be interested to know more about the change of law in step parent adoptions mentioned.

You mention about children being shown files and reminded of their past. Children are never just shown files but the information needs to be on file because of the law about Access to Records. Any adult can ask to see their social service files (and any other information held about us by other authorities)and a sw would then go through the file with them. Some file details (such as third party information) is kept confidential and cannot be accessed.

Good luck and I am sure all will go well for you and your family

slowreadingprogress Sat 08-Aug-09 19:27:23

'you have to be regularly shown files'....I just don't know of this happening and I've been in social work for 14 years, although not all of that in Children and Families

I have to say that children with an abusive and neglected past ARE GOING to be upset. Just because they are upset is not a reason to stop lines of communication about their past. What has happened is upsetting and you can't deal with it without being upset. That's just one of the reasons why abuse and neglect are such terrible things and so vilified in our society; because the effects DO last and do continue to upset and affect the child.

Obviously none of us know exactly what is going on in that family, anyway; I just wanted to add this as I feel it's important you don't let your understandable irritation with the system affect your view on ALL social work.

nightshade Sat 08-Aug-09 19:44:30

you seem to forget that in the case of adoption, the social worker is answerable and reporting on behalf of the court.

it is the court that expects a full assessment, the court that wishes to know the entire structure of the family and the court that will grant the adoption or not, based on the quality of evidence provided by the social worker.

if there are any unanswered qustions the court will postpone until it has the answers.

people sometimes forget what a weighty piece of legislation adoption is. ultimately the legal system is removing all rights and ties from blood relatives to yourself. it is also unable to be overturned. i would be pleased that the social worker is being so thorough.

maryz Sat 08-Aug-09 23:14:16

The social worker has to cover all aspects and all possibilities. For example, suppose you do adopt your dss, and then your dh dies? You will have all the rights and responsibilities for him. If you want to, you can stop him seeing both sides of his birth family. There is no way they can prove that you will keep any of the current relationships alive once the adoption is granted.

In that (admittedly unlikely, but possible) scenario, you dss at the age of 18 can access his files. He can find our about his birth mother (which you may not know, or may not choose to share) and his birth mother's family (who you may have fallen out with).

It is very important that there is a record of how he began, where he came from and how his adoption came about.

Adoption is very final. Your dss's family are losing all their rights (access, information, possibly rights to inheritance - correct me if I'm wrong on that). It is a very brave thing that both sides are doing, and it is very important that it is done properly, and seen to be done properly.

randomtask Sun 09-Aug-09 13:19:32

Step parents can now adopt on their own so DH retains his parental rights (we're pleased about this as the idea of DSS being a ward of court even for 24 hours is odd). But DH still needed to be CRB'd etc.

DH is going to contact the SW and ask why his first wife's personality etc are relevant and also about whether they'll mention this in court. As I say, I have no issue with DSS hearing about Mummy as he regularly does, it's just the way in which he hears it that I'm worried about.

We only have one hearing (apparently) and the SW keeps telling us we should invite 'family and friends' whilst also telling us it'll only take 10-15 minutes. DH is against that as as far as DSS is concerned, we became family when I married Daddy.

I do understand it's a system, it's just a shame that it can't be tailored for individual needs.

As for cutting relationships, we're worried about that so are setting up a will that says if DH and I both die, DSS's godparents have to make sure he maintains a relationship with all 3 sets of grandparents. The SW said that was the best possible approach.

maryz Sun 09-Aug-09 13:36:58

Sorry randomtask, I didn't mean in any way to imply that you wouldn't have thought these things through. I just meant that from the social worker's point of view, following the "system" means that they can pick up those few who might not. It sounds as though you and your dh are doing a great job, and I am sure it is frustrating.

I also meant your dss's birth mother's family are losing rights - obviously in your case this is not a problem, but in some cases it might be, so the social worker is looking at it from all angles.

As an adoptive mother I know how infuriating the system can be - I remember being asked how I intended funding my possible children-to-be's university places but not being asked whether I had ever changed a nappy!

Silver1 Sun 09-Aug-09 15:23:10

I think SWs whether you agree or not, still need to be sure that adoption is the right thing for the child, not just the parents and their relationships. I am sure in your case this is just a formality but they still need to do it.
They need to be able to say you may not be like mummy up there but that you can support her memory (I have to do this for my AS), they also need to be able to record whether she would have approved, so that in the future it is all there for him to trawl through as an adult, not all families are as open as you are, and it is important to protect these memories for a child-who legally will no longer be the son of X deceased, but will be your son with a new birth certificate to boot. He will lose all rights to inherit through his Birth Mum's. They just need to be sure that every one in every step family adoption will do the right thing, not just you.
Just be lucky you are not doing a LA adoption until very recently we had all had to answer questions about our sex lives!

NanaNina Sun 09-Aug-09 17:44:47

As someone else has said, the issues that are covered by the social worker are prescibed by legislation and the Court will expect that the final report will have followed the correct format. Not sure if you are aware that you will be able to see the final report and discuss it with your social worker.

Nothing specific in the report will be mentioned in court, so don't worry about that. The main thing is the recommendation from the social worker which I am sure in your case will be positive. The court hearing will be very short and you will probably feel something of an anti climax after all the interviews, assessments etc, though no doubt relieved.

Also, don't hesitate to query anything of concern with your social worker who should be able to put your mind at rest.

NanaNina Sun 09-Aug-09 17:53:05

As I think someone else has said the issues that the social worker discusses with you are prescribed by legislation and the Court will expect that the final report will follow the correct format. So the sw is following the format, not just picking issues out of mid air as part of your assessment. I always explain this to applicants and give as much info as I can about the process to help de-mystify the process.

None of the specific issues in the report will be discussed in court so don't worry about that. The main thing is the social worker's recommendation to the court which in your case I am sure will be positive. Not sure if your social worker has told youthat you will be able to see the final report and discuss it with your s.w.

Also don't hesitate to contact the sw about any concerns/queries that you have. She should be able to put your mind at rest.

edam Sun 09-Aug-09 17:58:40

Gosh, I hadn't realised that with step-parent adoptions grandparents and other relatives lost all legal ties with the child. Scary.

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