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Adopting from within a family - I've got some questions...

(22 Posts)
KateMess Sun 30-Aug-09 19:53:29


I've been with my partner for about 3 years. Our baby is due any day now.

DP has a complicated family. His sister died when her 2 children were aged 8months and 6 years. The father died too. At the time of these deaths, the children were already being looked after my DP's mother and SS were involved. After her death (which came shortly after the father's) DP's mother got permanent custody of the children and has brought them up. SS no longer have any involvement.

One is now 12 and sees my DP as a father figure (DP's mum is now separated) - he literally worships him and they are very close - DP used to pick him up from school etc. and has always been very involved in his life. He gets very upset when he has been with us and has to leave, we always have to make sure the next visit is arranged so he can look forward to it. It seems quite clear to me that he is trying to 'make' DP his dad, but doesn't feel confident that he is. It breaks my heart to see it.

There is an issue with the way he is being parented by his grandmother who is lovely but utterly incapable of laying down the law in any way at all. He does as he pleases. He has grown into a thoughtful, sweet child and is a credit to her in this way, but with puberty approaching DP and I both feel we should have more influence in his life to stop him going off the rails in the same way DP's brother and sister did (and the sister's daughter too, to some extent).

We need to talk to grandma and child about the future - basically we would like him to live with us - with as much contact with his grandma as possible.

Does this need to go through social services? Do we need to talk, if everybody is in agreement of course, about officially taking over guardianship from DP's mum? Could SS cause problems of the type "well if there's a problem at home we need to see what's best for him, etc."

Sorry this is so long, I don't know how to explain only half of it...

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sun 30-Aug-09 19:58:37

I have no idea but I wanted to say you sound lovely.

BonsoirAnna Sun 30-Aug-09 20:02:14

I think you should talk to someone in SS directly about this, in confidence. It sounds as if your DP's sister's children are being very well cared for, so no-one is going to start getting anxious about the basics.

What about the other child? I would have great hesitations about splitting up two orphaned siblings, and I am sure SS would too.

KateMess Sun 30-Aug-09 20:09:50

Thanks FBG smile

BonsoirAnna, good idea about talking to SS. I just worry that we might be unlucky with the SW - when it all happened SS wanted to take the children into foster care. DP stepped in (understandably everyone was falling apart) and insisted they were cared for in the family. But they could have been taken away, which has made everyone very cautious..

The sister is a big issue as they are close and that's important. I don't know how we could take him away from her, but she is 18 now - we'd be looking at next september/school year anyway, for that very reason, as we imagine she'll be leaving home..

BonsoirAnna Sun 30-Aug-09 20:16:05

Ah I see. I can quite understand that if your DP's nephew is left on his own with his grandmother, once his elder sister has left home, that that might not be the optimal environment for him to live his teenage years in - a father-figure will be very important to him.

You need to find someone sympathetic to help you to talk to the right people. Have you got a GP or has your nephew got a GP who you like and trust?

chegirl Sun 30-Aug-09 20:20:07

Hi. There would be no legal need to involve ss if there is no care order in place. As you are close relatives the private fostering regulations do not apply.

If GM was in agreement you could apply for a special guardianship order which would give you some PR.

I would recommend for advice.

We adopted our great nephew but he was v.young and ss were very much involved. Happy to chat if you think I can help.

KateMess Sun 30-Aug-09 20:44:44

Thanks a lot - it's really good to know that as close relatives/no care order in place, we don't need to go through official channels. We can only be talking about a situation in which GM would be in agreement, or we wouldn't do it. I was just putting out feelers so we can go into the discussion with the facts straight in our minds. Of course, Dp's nephew may not want to - he knows DP will give him a much tougher time than GM and he won't be playing playstation till 3am etc. with us... I also think GM deserves a rest - she's been bringing up kids constantly for nearly four decades and is on her own frank admission - exhausted.

Chegirl, it's really kind of you to offer your experience - I may well come back to you on that, when we've talked to everybody.


chegirl Sun 30-Aug-09 21:05:33

No probs.

I would say be a bit cautious though. I dont know the details of what your DN had gone through but any trauma leaves an enormous impact.

The teenage years are bound to be tricky and you will not be able to get any help from ss in your situation. It is also very expensive raising a teenager although you would be able to claim child benefit and child tax credits. I only mention this because its a huge issue for many kinship carers. I am not assuming it will be for you though.

Even if you do not take DN into your home on a permanent basis, the fact that you and your DP are a constant in his life will make a huge difference. It may be an idea to consider some sort of shared care arrangement. This depends on practicalities of course.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

KateMess Sun 30-Aug-09 22:02:32

Thanks. Yes, I really think the 'constant in his life' aspect is the most important, however things ultimately evolve. One of the things I'm doing at the moment is making our spare room at least a little bit his with some books so when he leaves he knows he's coming back.

The whole issue about his trauma is another thread and a half. He doesn't know how his mother or father died and we don't even know what he thinks, although logically he must have something in his head. He was only 8 months old at the time. We need to get him to a child psychologist as a starting point, but at the same time we're apprehensive because the answers are not happy ones.

chegirl Sun 30-Aug-09 22:12:31

I understand your reluctance. Its a very difficult area but one that really does need to be addressed. This is one of the disadvantages of not having SS involvement. When they go so does the access to therapy etc.

He will have something going on in his head about his mum and dad, no question. My son gets help through the fast track section at Child and adolescent mental health services {CAMHS).

You really need specialist help for him. It has to be someone who understands the issues around loss and adoption (I know its not strictly adoption but IYSWIM). Too many people dismiss early trauma with 'they wont remember'. My son was 8 weeks old when he first came to us. There is absolutly no doubt that he has been profoundly affected.

You seem to be doing the right things and are making a real difference to this young man.

I do think its important that he gets a chance to talk out the issues around his mum and dad though. But I do recognise how difficult that seems.

I wish you all the best.

chegirl Sun 30-Aug-09 22:14:05

Oh meant to say.... congrats on your imminent arrival of your new baby! smile

KateMess Sun 30-Aug-09 22:29:28

Thanks Chegirl, I'll keep nudging them in that direction - DP's mother finds it very hard to deal with and so it's been rather buried, I think. He never mentions his mother which I find very sad because she achieved lots of things in her life, I'd like him to feel he's allowed to talk about her.

And thanks for you congrats on the baby smile

edam Sun 30-Aug-09 22:35:39

You sound lovely, Kate, and just the sort of Auntie and Uncle he needs. Hope the birth goes extremely well. smile

Chegirl is the expert here, but I wonder whether any of the adoption charities might be able to help you with advice as well?

KristinaM Sun 30-Aug-09 22:51:09

i can only agree with chegirl's wise words.

you need to do some hard thinking about how this will affect you and your family, espcially with a new baby. The family dynamics totally chaneg once you have kids.

Its not easy parenting any 12yo, especially one who has been through so much. at the moment he will be on his best behaviour with you, but this will change when/if you become his main carers

Also you or your DP really need to talk to him soon about his parents and the circumstances surrounding their death. I can understand that his grandmother hasn't talked about it, as she is from the generation who believed that not knowing was better, "least said soonest mended" etc etc.

But he WILL be thinking about it and he needs the facts , told in a sensitive and age appropriate way

edam Sun 30-Aug-09 23:14:45

Actually Kristina's made an extremely valid point - don't make any big decisions until you've got into the swing of things with your new baby.

KateMess Mon 31-Aug-09 11:12:55

Well, if the best thing is for him to come into our family, then I wouldn't consider his needs to be less important than those of our baby - unless I'm being woefully naive about my mothering skills! It's been in our plan since we first met. I couldn't not take him in, it's unthinkable.

For several reasons, not unrelated to the reason why DN is an orphan (and why DP is supporting most of his family) - we never planned to have our own biological children, at least not DP's, who couldn't bear to see another bright young thing go wrong because of his family's genes. This baby is IVF with donor sperm. So we were always planning to adopt and still will - if they'll let us, which is another matter I'll be posting about here after the baby's born.

The reason I add this is that our family was always going to be a hodge podge of additions at various ages. I'm quite used to it - my BIl and Sil foster and we've been quite involved in that.

Telling him about his mother and father has been hanging over our heads - I had a long post about it on here and got some great advice. Quite a lot of it leaned towards not telling him until he indicated he wanted to know. Kristina on that thread I ask for an age-appropriate way of telling him but frankly it's pretty bad.

I lie awake worrying about taking a little boy away from what is essentially his mother, and giving him news that shatters him. We just can't get this wrong sad.

KristinaM Mon 31-Aug-09 16:19:17

kate - I'm sorry, i think i missed your other thread. can you link me to it?

KateMess Mon 31-Aug-09 16:52:23

Hi Kristina, it's here

chegirl Mon 31-Aug-09 17:51:50

Hi Ka
I can understand your determination to have your DN live with you. There was absolutely no question in my mind about taking our DS in. We did not expect to have him for ever so I was preparing myself for the heartache of handing him back. I knew it would be awful but I knew it was the right thing to do. As it happened he is still here and always will be.

It has had a huge impact on our family. Our little man has lots of issues including learning difficulties. I wouldnt be without him for anything though.

I have to say I do think it would be bad idea to get anything moving until your new baby is quite a bit older. You guys having a new baby may well trigger some difficult feelings for your DN anyway so you may have to be prepared for that.

I dont want to sound patronising. You may well have thought about this stuff already. Just some thoughts because my little boy has been affected by the loss in his life in ways we dont always realise.

I think that you could make a real go of things with DN. I think preparation is the best tool you can have. Getting specialised professionals involved is vital. There are some organisations that can help. Adoption UK is a good source of information and After Adoption too. I know DN is not adopted but he will have a lot in common with many children who have been through the care system.

A good start would be to read some stuff on attachement theory. It is really helpful when trying to understand traumatised children.

Waiting for news on baby wink !

KristinaM Mon 31-Aug-09 21:26:03

kate - i have posted on your other thread

chegirl is right. until you actually have a baby is hard to imagine how much impact they have on your life, and how your hormones can make you feel. thsi wont be helped by the stress of IVF and all the feelings the baby's birth will bring up for your DP. you can end up hating your DP let alone a snotty teenager!! grin

its not a good time to be moving in your DN, really its not

it doesn't mean that you coudln't go on having his for weekends etc. and it doesn't sound like its urgent, as he is being well cared for by his gran.

KateMess Mon 31-Aug-09 21:59:29

thanks Chegirl, for your v. supportive post.

Until your post it hadn't really occurred to me that he could be traumatised by the loss of his mother - but really it's quite logical. He adoration of DP is clearly a sign of it - he gets very upset if we go away, or even if DP forgets to text him goodnight. Sometimes I see him wanting a hug from DP and not get one (because DP doesn't see it, what can you do?) and it makes me so sad that he feels he can't take or ask for affection when he needs it. He feels he has to fight to make DP 'his' and what I would really like is for him to be able to take it as given that he is his dad. To be quite honest, I know his behaviour will get worse as he hits his teens, and we are less of a novelty, and I would almost welcome it because it will mean he doesn't feel we're going to leave him - at least that's the funny idea I have.

As far as timing goes, he's just starting a new school year so we could leave any major changes till next year, or at a push the year after, as it will mean changing schools.

I'll read up on attachment parenting and check out those adoption sites.

I'm really glad you got your DN for keeps, and I bet he is too.

chegirl Mon 31-Aug-09 22:13:21

Hi Kate,

I have posted on your other thread too. I have pretty strong opinions on this subject but I hope I havent come across as too preachery blush.

I think its a good idea to start making plans and thinking this through. Its not something to rush into if there is no need. Far better it is done carefully and gradually.

Good luck.

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