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Contacting previous partners

26 replies

Aeschylus · 01/09/2011 22:53

My husband was previously married, divorced 15 years ago (approx) and although it was not violent or anything like that, they did not part on good terms and have never seen each other since.

We were told by the sw tonight that we need to track her down as part of our assessment (we have found her on fb) but it feels wrong to just contact her out of the blue. Any advice?

OP posts:
NanaNina · 01/09/2011 23:19

Yes it is normal practice for social workers to interview previous partners. I'm not sure about being told you need to "track her down" - you either know her whereabouts or not. I am sure you realise that you can't contact her via facebook. Sometimes you can get info (like an e mail address) even if you are not a "friend" but this is unusual I think. Is there any other way that you can find out her whereabouts. You don't need to contact her - the sw will do this - what she needs from you (if you are able) is her name and address and she will take it from there. She will have to advise the person of the reason she is making enquiries, so I assume you are ok about your H's ex wife knowing that you are applying to adopt.

Mumleigh · 02/09/2011 09:04

Hello again. I've been on a couple of your threads now.

My SW had to contact an ex partner of mine and I had had no contact with him for almost 15 years.

Our break up had not been a good one so I was a bit embarrassed about having him provide reference for me.

I knew he was still in touch on a sporadic basis with a friend of mine so I wrote an email explaining my situation and asked the friend to forward it to him.
He contacted my social worker and wrote a reference which she described as glowing!

He also sent an email back to my friend asking him to wish me luck.

Another adopter friend of mine had a more difficult situation where her husbands ex wife had left him 10 years ago and had taken the children and refused to allow any contact.

They were obviously worried about how this would look and what the ex would say.

The ex had a meeting with the SW which went well and satisfied the SW that all was ok.

She then wrote a horrible letter completely contradicting everything she had said in the meeting! The SW saw through this and my friends went on the adopt without problem.

Aeschylus · 02/09/2011 17:09

Thanks for this, I looked her up on facebook as we knew she was married with children. I didn't contact her, just found out her new surname and saw she still lives in the area. This should be enough for the sw to find an address I hope. Thyank goodness for the internet as otherwise we would have no details and the sw said that we needed to give these rather than them find them (or so was my dh interpretation - I was not in the room at the time)

I fully understand the need for her to be contacted but it does still feel awkward. I dont mind her knowing about our plans and just hope she doesn't hold it against us that he didn't want children at the time they were married!

OP posts:
NeverendingStoryteller · 02/09/2011 21:50

I told my SW that she did not have my permission to contact my ex-H under any circumstances because we had been apart for over ten years and that my current life was none of his goddamned business. I provided details of referees that knew me during my previous marriage and they were able to confirm that back then, much like now, I have no tendencies towards axe murdering or other serious forms of nastiness.

The LA kept pushing me for his details but I was very firm and told them (truthfully) that I did not know where he was, did not care to know where he was, and did not care for him to know my business. I think I had to firmly decline their request to contact him about 4 times before they got the hint...

LaBag · 13/09/2011 10:12

How DARE they intrude into someone elses' life. I find this quite incredible.
I too have gone through (privately) social workers' investigations during our overseas adoption quest.

I was 45 at the time and there was certainly no request for my previous partners' details. I certainly would not have given them. Was it just because OP was married previously that these were requested? How fucking parochial. Tell them where to go.

LaBag · 13/09/2011 11:41

PS We were (obiously) approved.

Lilka · 13/09/2011 16:40

The reason they ask for them, is that a child was murdered by their adoptive father. Had SS contacted the ex wife, they would have found out he was a psychopath. But they didn't, and a child died for it. They don't ask for no reason

Aeschylus · 13/09/2011 18:40

We were asked to declare any relationships that lasted longer than 1.5/2 years. Only my dh's ex wife was then necessary. What I do find a little more strange is that we have been married 11 years, together for 13. Therefore I think that my knowledge of him and anyone else who knows him well could count, we need so many references anyway. But I suppose no-one knows what goes on behind closed doors and all that.

I don't think I would mind if it wre the other way around and we were contacted to make a statement about her but I do still feel a bit uncomfortable about it!

OP posts:
hester · 14/09/2011 00:40

I think it's kind of in the nature of adoption assessment that they intrude into your life, isn't it?

Kewcumber · 15/09/2011 12:49

LaBag - I'm slightly surpised that you find it quite so outrageous (as a fellow intercountry adopter) but I guss you adopted back in the days when you could get away with a more cursory home study for ICA than domesic which has all changed now.

OP yes it is uncomfortable but grit your teeth. Mostly social workers understand teh dynamic of failed marriages and that previous partners might have an agenda. But really as Lilka said they are just trying to make sure there isn't an obvious reason why you shouldn;t proceed like domestic violence. I agree in your case when you have been married for many years its unlikely to be a big issue but they don;t have a cut off as even a long term partner (who is desparate to adopt) might keep quiet about domestic violence whereas a previouspartner might not.

Just give the SW the few detials you have and leave it to her/him. You are not required to track down previous parnters for them. My ex-DP was going to be intereviewed until I said he lived in Uzbekistan - funnily enough they chose not to bother at that point!

SullyO · 25/09/2011 11:01

SW wanted to contact my ex partner and I explained that he doesn't have the time of day for me now, if I see him in the street he turns and walks the other way and doesn't acknowledge my presence. I said that they probably wouldn't get anything useful from him so suggested they talk to his sister instead which they did and all worked out well. I can understand why they do it but I was also of the opinion that why should my ex have to know what is going on in my life now and actually have some input into it! But all is now well and we have 2 little ones :-)

sabroad · 27/11/2013 07:39

Thought i would post on here as this thread came up when i googled for 'ex partner reference'. My ex and her new husband are looking to adopt and i was asked to give her a character reference. This is what i wrote-

Dear Sir/Madam
I can confirm that I lived with XXX from April XXX to June XXX in XXX. We had previously lived together for approximately 2 years in a shared house with friends in XXXXX.
XXX is a caring person by nature who, while living with me, was employed as a XXXXXXX. I have complete confidence in stating that she is suitable to adopt a child. As this is a specific character reference in terms of suitability to adopt I will clearly state that XXX has no habits or personality traits that would make her in any way a danger to a child and I would have no concerns about the safety or well being of any child placed with her.
On a personal note I believe that XXXXXXX Adoption Service is extremely lucky to have someone like XXXX offing a potential home to a child. She will provide a safe, nurturing environment with all the love, fun and care a child could wish for.
If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me for more details.
Yours faithfully

I didnt like the 'danger to children' bit but but part of their introductory letter asked me specifically about that.

I hope my contribution might help others know what to write.

boudiboo · 02/02/2015 15:48

Seemingly, government has legislated change in order to improve the adoption process so that children are placed into new, permanent homes faster. Well, I'm not so sure it's working! At our first meeting with a SW we were told we could expect to have a child placed with us by spring. Almost a year since that meeting & we're still not through stage 1 & have just been told about the requirement for references from ex-partners - despite having been assured previously this was not necessary. My view is in line with NeverendingStoryteller & I'm livid! There is nothing our ex's can contribute that cannot be sourced elsewhere & I do not want them involved. Would the LA really disqualify us - & lose out on a potential new home for a child in need - over this?

Themoleandcrew · 02/02/2015 16:40

In my experience, yes they would. We have had a placement put on hold partly due to the lack of a previous partner reference. In our case there is documentary evidence if this ex partners difficult nature and previous violent behaviour and it seems as though we may escape them contacting or visiting them. But we did have to say that we would not object to them being contacted although made it clear that there would be no positive remarks from this partner had they been in contact.

Themoleandcrew · 02/02/2015 16:41

Also, we are very lucky that a previous partner reference hasn't been sought. This is our second adoption and the first did not contact them either which I've found to be extremely rare.

Kewcumber · 02/02/2015 23:33

It's an old thread boudiboo but what Lilka said is still the case...

The reason they ask for them, is that a child was murdered by their adoptive father. Had SS contacted the ex wife, they would have found out he was a psychopath. But they didn't, and a child died for it. They don't ask for no reason

boudiboo · 04/02/2015 17:16

A tragic tale if it's true, for sure - I can't find a source & find it hard to believe that only the ex-wife knew about a mental condition! But that's not my point. I'm frustrated because this should be a collaborative process with a mutual aim of providing a child with a better home.
We do not want our exes involved. There is nothing about us that cannot be verified by other means. By the way, they want references because "they are aligning ourselves with our neighbouring local authorities practice" - no mention of child safety.
Surely, with such high numbers of new homes needed, they ought to be less dogmatic and bureaucratic & more flexible and rational with applicants.

Kewcumber · 04/02/2015 17:50

I'm absolutely certain it exists - unless you are implying that social workers are lying about it? I'm pretty sure that I know which council it was in so I'll have a quick look.

The case involved domestic violence that hadn't been reported I understand so I'm not quite sure why you're so certain someone else would have known.

It changed the current practice of not contacting previous live-in partners - it was certainly not particularly new practice when I was going through the process about 12 years ago so your local authority is way way way behind the curve if they are only bringing this in now.

If someone has a real reason for not wanting their partner contacted then they will assess each case on its merits.

As far as being collaborative - it is in my experience often a surprise to prospective adopters that's many social workers do not initially start out with a particularly collaborative approach as their primary responsibility is to the child. Contrary to popular belief there isn't a shortage of adopters except for the harder to place children, in fact my understanding was that there is currently more adopters than children in the younger age groups. Though this may well change - but you only have to read the current threads about those who have been waiting for a while to be matched to understand the current situation.

Kewcumber · 04/02/2015 18:03

I didn't want my ex involved either but I understood that social services have a responsibility to do their best for the children in their care and sometimes it can be a useful tool.

After that case and another more recent involving foster carers I don't think any social worker would be prepared to sign off prospective adopters who refuse to give details about previous live-in partners. Or at least not without a great deal of other investigation and I think they would probably only undertake that if they were either short of adopters or if you were considering a hard to place child/sibling group.

Damnautocorrect · 04/02/2015 18:14

We are thinking of fostering in the distant future, my only ex partner who would count was massively abusive in every sense. I can really see why it would be advantageous to contact previous partners, but I can also see another side.

boudiboo · 04/02/2015 18:41

Thanks Kewcumber, lots of food for thought there! I guess I did believe there was a shortage of adopters. In fact we were spurred to action after watching the documentary '15,000 kids and counting' a couple of years ago. We were told at our first meeting that there were only 24 approved / or current applicants (can't remember) for the whole of the south coast area i.e. all of West Sussex + Portsmouth + Southampton - a huge area!

Lilka · 04/02/2015 18:59

First4Adoption's map shows a good 100 approved parents along a stretch of the south coast by September 2014 (70 if I restricted it to the places around Southamptom/West Sussex). There are more children than that of course, but the issue is that many of those children are in sibling groups, older, and most frequently have special/additional needs. Wheras the majority of the approved adopters will be waiting for the much smaller number of children aged 0-3 who do not have significant needs of any kind. I guess a good 50 adopters maybe wanting that category of children...but there won't be 50 children matching those criteria. There might be only 10 children aged 0-2 without significant current known difficulties, plus another 15 who have FASD or significant developmental delays or definite attachment issues/physical disabilities/suspected autism and so on. Those are the hard to place children. And the older children, and a lot of sibling groups and so on.

So yes there is a shortage for certain groups of children, but not a shortage of adopters for young single children without significant needs. Parents looking for a child matching those criteria, depending on their location, are currently perhaps waiting months and months for possible matches.

morethanpotatoprints · 04/02/2015 19:12

I think it is necessary to ensure adoptive parents are good candidates tbh.
I'm not sure if it is more evasive than in the past.
My parents (1966) old gimmer here, had to go to court 3 times for each child. Have not so much as a parking ticket, church attendance and be well established and respected in the community. House visited on numerous occasions, sometimes with half hour warning Shock
Obviously there were all the medicals too.
My dad was the union rep at work and had monthly meeting at home where he had bottles of beer stored in the coal house for this purpose. Mum and Dad didn't drink as mums mum was a staunch methodist.
They were so scared that ss might look in the coal house and find the ale Grin

crackerjack00 · 04/02/2015 20:03

It is 100% in the interests of a child to speak to ex partners.

It absolutely should happen - except in a small set of circumstances.

I say this as an adoptive parent whose DH's ex wife had made allegations of DV against him (totally unfounded) and who we thought would totally ruin our chances of adopting. It was incredibly stressful for us. But necessary.

It also (we learned later) wasn't the most stressful part of adopting... not by a long shot.

Even though we adopted 'difficult to place children' and therefore are the type of parent in 'short supply and big demand' it never occurred to us for a second to withhold the information. In fact we pro-actively started talking about it from our very first meeting.

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