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How much influence do extended family & exes have on the process?

34 replies

CycleQueen · 11/06/2014 12:45

I wondered if anyone has any experience of getting through the adoption process when they have poor and broken relationships with wider family members? We are/were hoping to begin the adoption process but then realised that the LA would want to talk to DH's ex wife, who hates him passionately (although she has since remarried and this was about 18 years ago). We know that she would relish an opportunity to have some power over his life now - and of course understand why she would need to be approached, but to what extent?
In addition DH's parents hate me and although we have a DD together they have chosen not to be part of ours - or her - life.
We are a loving and tight family unit of 3 and would love to enlarge this but I am worried that we will look like a bit of a disaster zone with a lot of bad feeling coming from all over the place (I don't like DH's parents either so its a mutual feeling and we just leave each other alone).
I don't want to put us under any terrible pain if we are going to have to rake through everything that has happened in the past - and I am especially worried that DH's ex will likely lie about their previous relationship - they have two DS and she worked very hard to damage the relationship he has with them too.
Sorry, rambling but I know having looked at threads on here that lots of you have experience in the process! Thanks.

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fledtoscotland · 11/06/2014 12:59

Marking my place with interest. Our SW has said she wants to explore my relationship with my mother further. I don't have a relationship. She walked out of my and my dc's lives 4 yrs ago. My dad (they've been divorced 38yrs) tried to arrange a meeting this summer when I visit him and she said it would upset her too much to drag up the past so she didnt want to see her grandchildren.

Kewcumber · 11/06/2014 13:03

I haven't experienced this personally although I was estranged from my family for some years (though not at the moment!), and to be honest my social worker barely picked it up which surprised me. I just said that I hadn't been close to my father for some time and wouldn;t expect him to have a big input into DS's life.

Re your inlaw's, do they live far away? Because it would be quite handy to be able to say - sadly we are not close to my in-laws and we don;t see them much because its too far.

Or you can be open about your relationship with them - a SW would expect you to show some insight into why your relationship with your IL's is not good. Its really about trying to show that you are a person with empathy and will be able to deal with a child that might well need a higher degree of empathy and patience than many birth children will. You will want to see that you can work at a relationship and aren't cutting them off because they've done something minor that you don't like. You don't want to be seen as unreasonable of controlling or a perfectionist as that will worry them about how you would deal with a child in a similar situation.

If they have cut you off because say they don;t agree with your DH marrying you or how you discipline the children for example - I think saying that you think its very sad that they feel that way and you would prefer them to have a relationship with your children but that you aren't prepared to expose your children to someone who is openly hostile to you (for example) as you don;t think its in their best interests. Ie its whats best for your children.

Ex is easier in some ways because of the length of time they've been divorced. They will predominantly be checking that there were no issues of domestic violence. Is you think there is any chance she might allege this then I would suggest that you mention it upfront to the social worker - I'm sure they will be used to dealing with bitter ex-spouses. Again if you can show that your DH fought to keep in contact with his children then all the better especially if he has a good relationship with them now and they could be interviewed.

It really is all about the child! If you can show that the problematic relationships you have still protected/fought for the children then you'll probably be fine as long as you are prepared to have a discussion about it.

Sorry that turned into a bit of an essay!

CycleQueen · 11/06/2014 13:06

Yes it would be good to know how much bearing on the process these sorts of issues have. Did your SW say how exactly she wants to explore it - with you, with your mother? Both?
We have broken parental relationships on both sides and to be honest, it makes our lives much better by not having the aggro and upset that the relationships have caused. In my situation I don't think it's a great loss for my DD - HOWEVER, I would of course have loved her to have loving and kind grandparents. Hope you get some answers here too fledtoscotland

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Kewcumber · 11/06/2014 13:06

fledtoscotland - I have a similar relationship with my Dad - though we now see each other it is a bit through gritted teeth in my case although DS loves him.

I was very matter of fact when Social worker asked me about it - I said it made me very sad that he chose to not see me but that I had come to accept that you can;t make adults do things they don't want to. She actually was OK with just that, though I do wonder if people expect you to be more upset about a break down of a mother-daughter relationship - no idea.

Kewcumber · 11/06/2014 13:07

I wasn;t estranged form my family but my FATHER!

Hels20 · 11/06/2014 13:09

My DH was previously married and because he had no children, his ex-wife wasn't contacted. But it varies from LA to LA and VA to VA whether ex is contacted.

Hels20 · 11/06/2014 13:10

Ignore my post - just seen your DH has 2 children with ex. They will also be contacted.

CycleQueen · 11/06/2014 13:10

Thank you kewcumber, that is really really encouraging. Do you know if they interview family/exes in person or do they write to them etc? I think it's DH's ex that will try scupper it for us tho - she has made up many issues about him in the past and he said he wouldn't put it past her to hint that he was violent - he's certainly not and I've never seen a hint of aggression in him in all the years we have been together.

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CycleQueen · 11/06/2014 13:13

Thanks Hels20 - he has 2 children who are adults now. I suppose my question is, what do SW want to know from everyone? LOL I can see what a crazy question that is! I suppose I'm just worried that we could lose out on having an AC because we don't have great relationships with close family - although DH has a good relationship with his DC, against the intentions of his ex!

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Kewcumber · 11/06/2014 13:17

I'm not sure I would worry too much about an expartner hinting about something that would have happened 18 years later.

I think you need to be really honest about her - say she would quite happily put a spoke in the wheel because she held it against him that he maintained contact with the children all the way though and she would have prefered him to just go away (I'm putting words in your mouth obviously but whatever the reason is...). And that is there had even been a hint of violence she would quite happily have accused him at the time and she didn't...

DIfferent LA's will be different - my LA wanted to contact (by phone) my ex but when they discovered he was living in Tashkent that was the last I heard of that! To be fair I did offer his email address but they just didn't bother.

I think is you have a fractured relationship with both sides you do need to be prepared to have some quite in depth discussion about why your family relationships are tricky - you describe it as extended family but tbh no social worker will see your parents as "extended" family just family and they might well be concerned about a general picture which shows a difficulty in maintaining relationships when people become difficult (which an adopted child is likely to be at some point or other).

Who are you going to ask to be your family referee?

Hels20 · 11/06/2014 13:18

I have another family member who is looking to be adopted. He is estranged from his brother and was v worried about this. But although it was discussed, it wasn't a big issue.

I think the key for you is looking at who would fill the support network that is v important to SS when assessing. If you have lots of friends who would help/support then I see it as less of an issue.

I will PM you about something else.

fledtoscotland · 11/06/2014 13:19

Sorry to crash your thread op. SW would have problems contacting my mother as she's in a different country. I have a postal address for her (that's all my dad has) but my only other blood relative alive is my dad. We have a tentative relationship because of the damage my mother did. I'm v matter of fact. Had a shed load of counselling and quite happy to discuss it but will it impact their decision? She wouldn't be involved in any childcare even if we did speak due to geographical distance

Kewcumber · 11/06/2014 13:19

I assume your family member is loong to adopt Hels.... rather than to be adopted! I rather like the idea of being adopted now - can I put a request in for Pierce Brosnan to adopt me?

Kewcumber · 11/06/2014 13:23

I doubt they would contact and absent parent scotland - they didn't even interview my mother and she lives around the corner! My sister was my referee. I'm not sure I'd even mention it - put your mother on your relationship chart thingie (I forget what they're called) as living overseas with little contact. Her choise not much you could do about it.

And social workers love counselling. So "it was difficult at the time but I found counselling really helpful in moving on"

Hels20 · 11/06/2014 13:24

Ha ha ha, Kew! Thanks for correcting my typo!

CycleQueen · 11/06/2014 13:24

Thank you - kewcumber, I hear what you are saying, and we probably will look like people with issues argh. I have a great relationship with my siblings, and I would ask one of them to be my family referee.
I feel a bit more optimistic about the whole thing now. Although I might need to convince DH, he is about to run for the hills :-(

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CycleQueen · 11/06/2014 13:27

Do they interview many people? I'm still not sure how the whole process is going to work. We have just received the basic first stage application form and it gives nothing away.

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fledtoscotland · 11/06/2014 13:29

Thankyou. Our SW says I don't have to use a family reference from my side if I don't want to as long as we have DHs family and people who have known us for a long time. I just don't overly want to rehash what is very much in the past

CycleQueen · 11/06/2014 13:30

We also have a lovely, happy little DD who is desperate for a sibling and we have managed to cope with a lovely circle of friends and a great pre-school and then school. We are ready, willing and able, just want to make sure we get that across to SW (although of course with all the caveats about the fact that we will need extra support and training to make sure we do our best as a larger family)

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Kewcumber · 11/06/2014 13:37

In my case I was asked for three referees, including one member of the family and they sent written references in and they also interviewed all in person.

If you have a good relationship with siblings then that will help as it shows you are capable of "normal" family relationships.

Its not counselling... it entirely about doing what is best for a child that has already suffered a great deal from others mistakes. So the sw has a huge responsibility to make sure that the people who want to adopt aren't going to cause more damage than they solve - but to be fiar in my experience they aren;t unreasonable.

fledtoscotland · 11/06/2014 13:39

Kew - I'm an only child and BIL emigrated years ago. We have elderly FIL, my dad, DH's aunt and cousins. My best pal is like my sister and her parents joke they've adopted me. Ironically her dad is adopted and has asked to be one of our references.

silverlinings79 · 11/06/2014 21:05

Hi, probably not much to add to below but I'll chuck in a comment Smile We just got approved last week (yay!) However, my Dad said see u next week when I was 8, but instead moved to a foreign country without saying a word and rocked back up a decade or so later, needless to say that relationship is terrible, if you'd even call it existent and my mother and I don't really get on and she has health problems that will result in a minimal relationship with the children buuuut .....this actually helped with our application! :) I am not bitter about it, am quite matter of fact and reflective on whole situation and have used them to inspire me on how to be a better parent and they said that will make me a better adoptive parent. I think if you can show your reasons and thinking behind the situation and show you've learned something from it it's not an issue. I do think you need to show you have a good support network elsewhere but that can be your siblings or close friends and they told us it's not about how many either, a quality small network can be better than a big one Smile I have no experience of the ex thing, sorry. But in terms of referees we had to give 3 of our choosing. They have spoken to no-one in my family and don't want to. The thing where it will feature heavily is in the social worker report about you. Mine sounded horrific and I was convinced they'd ask about it at panel.....they never mentioned a thing!!! So in my opinion regarding family, you're right to have a good old reflect on the situation before the SW starts asking you any questions but I wouldn't stress over it. Smile Smile

silverlinings79 · 11/06/2014 21:09

Sorry....I should point at that inspiration comes from seeing a better way, not doing the same...obviously!!!

slkk · 12/06/2014 09:41

sw visited dh's exw and also took a written reference from grown up dd. Obviously looking for warning signs of domestic abuse etc. apart from that, our sw said she would take reference from xw in context and wasn't too worried about it. Questions were raised at panel about relationship with dd, but as dh was reflective and was aware of highs and lows of relationship it worked in his favour. I think they are just looking to see that you have ability to put child's needs first and can be reflective and adaptable and accepting as a parent in different situations. don't worry about it too much.

CycleQueen · 12/06/2014 14:31

Silverlinings - thank you so much, you're right it's how we deal with these things and how we can support the little ones too.
Sikk - thanks to you too.
I'm feeling much more heartened about it all now, especially as DH and I had a great chat last night and whilst the night before I think we felt the odds (and exes lol) were stacked against us, now we have reflected it's not so bad. We would probably use one of his BC as a reference as things are good with them.
I think the fact that a lot of the history is very old history will help and we have our good points lol!!
phew! Thanks everyone, I am hoping to get the first forms completed now - have had the prelim phone chat with a sw. Keep em crossed xxx

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