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DSD and her wishes...(12 Posts)
Name changed as could identify due to previous threads
My DSD (5) has been making some concerning remarks to myself, her dad and the school surrounding her home like when with Mum.
We pick up DSD from her mums Monday to Friday between 6:45am/7am whereby getting her ready including homework, book read, reading word challenges all fall onto us to do in the 40 minutes we have before we need to leave for school - we live 7 miles from the school which is 1/2 mile from her mums.
Due to comments about DSD waking up and mum not being there, school have initiated a safe guarding process and recommended OH call SS to report what had also been said to us which he did early last week.
From Wednesday morning last week we had tears in the car but when asked what’s wrong, it was she missed us. At school when I dropped her off, she wouldn’t leave me and we had a hug until the teacher came over to sway her in. DSD made several comments when this happened including the school rang mum about one of the allegations and mum was lying & shouted at her for telling the truth.
Thursday morning she was upset and said she asked for a shower on Wednesday after school and was told no, wait til you go to your dads. This meant by the time she had a bath at ours Friday, she hadn’t a wash since the Sunday - in the mornings I wash her face etc but 40 minutes to do everything let alone a shower will be cutting time fine.
Friday, she sat on the sofa for our usual film evening after dinner and stated she didn’t want to leave. She wants to stay here permanently and even planned out that she could do dinner at her mums Tuesday and Thursdays but adamant to come back home to sleep. She wants Saturday to Sunday every other weekend with her mum and not Friday to Monday (which is the current arrangement we have) Her dads said it’s a big thing for someone so young to say so he will work out how best we go about making it happen.
Last night before bed she asked had we made it happen yet. We confirmed no, we’ve not spoken to mum but it won’t happen right away. She got very upset and stated she wanted it to happen now. This morning, she was clingy and pretended she had a cough in the hope she would be kept off school with me and I presume she thought she would be able to stay again tonight and not go back to her mum. As soon as we pointed out she’s not coughed once this morning or weekend she done a fake cough... it was cute/funny but it’s also got my alarm bells ringing into why is she going to the lengths of being ‘poorly’ when she isn’t.
Thing is her mum. Her mum has already lied to the school about leaving in the night and DSD has given SS and school a detailed account of where her mum went, what she was wearing when she came home etc. Whenever we try to discuss DSD welfare or let her mum know about something (I.e. she ended up in hospital one night due to high temp and stomach pains) we got met with abuse followed by the ask to review the current level of maintenance. Despite CMS saying what we pay is adequate given it’s technically shared care and she shouldn’t be getting any money, she stated she would be considering reducing contact then.
How best do we go with approaching this and making DSD wishes happen? We don’t have zillions so solicitors ideally are last resort given her mum will drag out the process, ignore letters and we will be footing a higher bill. I’m conscious of asking her to tell school, Nan etc as this could then be see as coaching her I suppose? And if she told her mum, well she’s already shouted at her for telling the truth goodness knows where this will go.
Sorry, I’m just so lost and want to stop DSD becoming so upset
Let me start by saying I have zero experience of this and you really need to get proper legal advice.
But in light of all that, I'd be so so tempted to tell the school and social services what she has said and tell them that you are changing the arrangement. I would then inform mum of what is happening. She can then initiate court proceedings if she wants to change it back? Like I said, that is probably terrible advice but that poor little girl sounds like she knows what she wants.
Are there no formal, legal contact/care arrangements in place? Because you talk about her threatning to reduce contact?
Previous posters said it - your DSD is obviously desperately unhappy and her mother is obviously not taking care of her basic needs and the situation is at the point where the school and social services are going to start getting involved.
I appreciate you don't have a lot of money, but if ever there was a situation that was worth scraping every penny together for and getting proper legal advice and taking full custody of the child if possible, it's this. And honestly, I don't really understand why your DH hasn't already.
If you have reason to believe she is unsafe at her mums, and is clearly showing distress at going back there, your DH has every right to safeguard her by keeping her in his care. He can explain his reasons for this to SS and could say that DSD's mum can see her for visits/supervised access if there are genuine concerns about her care.
She is very little, unable to advocate for herself and is potentially looking for those who she feels safe with to protect her. I would strongly suggest your DH at the very least discussing these concerns further with SS and getting advice, and looking into a support services for her who can help her express her thoughts and feelings without distressing her too much and who can reassure her, help her to understand what worries her and be a safe space to speak without bias. These services are listened to in court situations and can be really helpful in getting a better picture of the child's situation.
It's great that DSD has been brave enough to say some of the things she wants, keep encouraging her that it's always good to share what worries her (no matter who or what is involved) and get some professional advice.
We are going to scrape funds to pay whatever it takes to make her happy - we just know this will increase due to the boundaries her mum will put up and ideally would rather spend those funds on DSD directly but as I said, her happiness is our main concern.
They have an informal arrangement in place due to neither according court when they split 3/4 years ago. It’s only in the last 12 months things have become difficult and the last 4 weeks OH was threatened with reduce access due to wanting more funds.
We have an appointment with the head teacher this week so will ask them to gather their own thoughts from DSD but I’m going to look into these support services to help her talk and reassure her more than we already are.
I wouldn't worry too much about the threats of reduced contact OP. These type of parents often threaten it but never go through with it, or maybe for one evening, because they actually like the child free break. Worst case she does stop contact, then down to court you go, they do not look fondly on parents who do this.
I don't have anything to add except to say what a lovely kind and caring mum you are. I hope all gets sorted and your dsd has a happy and stable home life soon.
Poor little thing.
If he is on the birth certificates then he has equal parental rights. If this was my child/step child there is no way that I would force her to go back.
I would keep her and call social services immediately.
She can take you to court for custody, but if there are safeguarding concerns then this will be a slam dunk.
I also would not allow unsupervised contact until advised otherwise by social services. For a 5 year old to be that scared of going home, there is a serious problem.
Please ensure that SS are also updated on any other concerns and allegations made as it will help them to build a picture of what is happening in the home. Legally, seeing a good solicitor would be a good first step. It sounds like you have a fantastic relationship with DSD and she really trusts you. She needs that in her life right now. Fingers crossed that you and DH are able to get full custody.
Could you say to the mother that if the child came to live with you as the RP you wouldn’t ask for any money from her
Far from ideal BUT the bigger picture if this poor little girl gets some stability
Go for full custody. I think mum will be relieved.