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Social worker mind games - is this normal?

39 replies

cherrypie111 · 12/12/2020 10:18

Apologies first post but I'm desperate for some advice. Currently in stage 2.

Mine and my husbands journey through adoption so far has been less than ideal. Out first social worker was terrible so we had to change between stage one and 2. Currently still in stage 2 and our social worker is good but very cold. Due to this our sessions (online) have been rigid but that's what we thought they would/should be like.

During our 'last' session we were thrown a curveball by our social worker saying she is struggling as she doesn't think I am 'fun' I pushed back and said to be honest none of the sessions have really felt appropriate to be 'fun' in. She then turned around and said I obviously struggle to take feedback!!!

After this she then said she needed further conversations with our referees about my 'temperament' and to verify whether I am indeed 'fun'. She called my mum who of course said I was great and fun.

During this call however she also told my mum that she was going to test me to see how I handle change and feedback. She also told my mum to keep this secret which I find really odd.

A few days later we were told we needed more sessions however she wasn't able to book these in till the new year, as she was being temporarily moved to a new team for 4 weeks! This also meant our panel date was going to be cancelled.

Of course we understood things change and wished her well in her temp new role.

Now to the mind games.

I have now found out this was our test! This lady thought it was acceptable to pretend to go into another team, cancel our panel date and put us back a month just to test us!

Is this normal, as I'm getting really tired and fed up of continually being worried I'm being tested for something Sad

OP posts:
rose69 · 16/12/2020 01:02

Jelly cat- it was before he started school. SW had travelled from a different part of the country, refused the usual lift from the station, walked past our road and purposefully visited the school they preferred (it's quite hard to find).
They were An hour late because they were lost but didn't call us.

Jellycatspyjamas · 16/12/2020 07:10

I’m not denying it happened, I’m just wondering what they would have been doing at the school.

Notmydaughteryoubitch · 16/12/2020 07:47

I'm a social work manager (not adoption but previously been independent social worker doing fostering assessments) - that sounds highly unethical. As a pp said the process should be transparent and fair. I'm quite gobsmacked to be honest. I know it's not aas easy as saying complain as you will be so anxious about your assessment process and depends on the culture of the LA as to how this would be responded to but I would consider it, this is not ok.

rose69 · 16/12/2020 07:51

We were saying school was full and with local knowledge knew a place was unlikely to become available and that an appeal would have just confirmed top of waiting list rather than a place but Sw had picked it from brochure as her preferred option as it was a one form entry school rather than a nearer two form entry school.
Only after her "accidental" visit to the school, which is down an alley, while we were driving around trying to find her and ringing the office) that she agreed we were right.
One of the lighter moments in some very bizarre behaviour from her.

Jellycatspyjamas · 16/12/2020 08:16

That’s very odd, she shouldn’t have a preferred option for your child’s school and has no right checking up on you (imagine if you’d tried to check up on her bizarreness). Two firm entry is often good for our kids because it’s gives options in terms of teachers and class make up. She sounds a bit nuts.

Ted27 · 16/12/2020 15:37

very bizarre
how can she have a preferred option for a child that doesnt exist yet ?

I think you are in for a long haul - stay strong !

Jannt86 · 16/12/2020 20:02

'Oh I'm sorry you don't think I'm fun. I'll change my video image to the giant pizza face and dance to agadoo on our next zoom chat shall I?!' Grin It all sounds a.bit dodgy but I think you're too far gone now to really change things so you're probably best just to keep calm and keep your nose clean. Sadly social workers do have the upper hand and sometimes you do just have to play the game. I am the biggest goofball going and my 2.5YO would testify to that but I HATE video calls with a passion and would probably find it very hard to show that side of myself on a video to a total stranger. I think your best strategy of dealing with this would be to calmly explain that they may be finding it hard to see that side of you on video calls whilst not being argumentative about it. Maybe ask if there's anything you can do to show your fun side. It sounds like a lot of this is just seeing how you cope under pressure though so as unfair as it is just try not to rise to it. It is a bit like childbirth. Once it's over and that child is your's for life you forget all the pain and torment. Good luck xx

SD1978 · 17/12/2020 04:52

So she actually cancelled your panel, delaying a child getting out of the system, because she has decided via zoom you're a miserable git who can't accept adversity? The level of spite is fucked. Maybe wear a Santa hat for your next meeting. I'm sorry this is happening, grit your teeth, and remember the light at the end of the tunnel is a child who needs you, will be loved, safe and have fun living with you xxx

percypetulant · 17/12/2020 12:16

There are many excellent social workers.

But they are human beings with their peculiarities, and they get bees in their bonnets about strange things.

Unfortunately, any profession like this with power over others can attract some abusive, or just strange individuals. Some are like this in all their lives. Some are only like this with adopters (because the dynamic is that adopters should do as they're told and be grateful). The checks and balances for how they treat adopters, especially for matching, just aren't there. There's no appeal for the matching stage, and SWs have a lot of power- power corrupts.

It's a system fault, really. The system should manage SW foibles, but it doesn't.

cherrypie111 · 17/12/2020 22:56

@Marchbabe

I’m sorry stage 2 has got you down. The process can be lengthy, make you feel vulnerable and dispirited at times.

I think you are overthinking. The SW is assessing you, so she can write a report including what you are like, your strengths and weaknesses so that going forward she can advocate for you for panel, and so that either her on another SW can match a child/ren to your profile.

It’s normal that she has questions. We had lots of follow up questions from our SW about things she wanted to know more about. For example, she questioned if we were affectionate. So for you she’s struggling to see how you are ‘fun’. Your reply that the sessions weren’t fun is honest and understandable. But your reply doesn’t give the SW the information she needs about how you are fun or what you do for fun, so she calls your mother for more info. SW then sets up a scenario to see how to respond to change. Again, for more information .

Are you sure she has lied? Our SW has changed teams and roles as the LAs are restructuring into RAAs and as others said may be the impact of COVID-19. Plus our SW works part time so takes 3 weeks off at Christmas.

Next step is simple, talk to the SW and give her the information, examples of how you are fun. Write down examples, so she can include in your PAR.

Keep on going, be kind it’s worth it :)

We are very sure she lied, she and her manager confirmed it during our session this week.

Doesn't make me want to trust her at all tbh
OP posts:
cherrypie111 · 17/12/2020 22:59

@donquixotedelamancha

I’d say it’s normal! Play their game, smile, nod and act. I have yet to meet a SW that is trust worthy, too busy covering their ass

I think you are overthinking. The SW is assessing you, so she can write a report including what you are like, your strengths and weaknesses so that going forward she can advocate for you for panel, and so that either her on another SW can match a child/ren to your profile.

I'm stunned by these comments. I've known some bad stories from adopters but no one should think what OP describes is remotely normal or OK.

If you are sure this is what is happening OP I really think you need to speak to the SW. I'd want to understand some very good reasons for this choice before thinking it was remotely reasonable. I'd be very reluctant to do a formal complaint before approval but that might be the only way to get this back on track- try informal first.

Don't just say nothing, what she writes in your PAR is important for matching. Make sure you get a bloody good look at your PAR before panel.

FWIW I was told off for being too light-hearted at some of the silly bureaucracy elements of the process- just be you.

They have taken every ounce of joy out of getting our first child

Nah. The joy is in the parenting, not the hoop jumping. You'd be amazed how the seemingly really difficult bits of this part fade when you are trying to get your kid out of wet knickers without stepping in the fucking puddle; again.

Thank you for this, I think it's hard for us to keep motivated as we aren't going for adoption as a last chance, we can have a biological child if we so wished so sometimes it's hard jumping through the hoops to prove something when we could easily have one of our own and have to prove nothing tbh. Getting very down about it and it's all from our social worker.
OP posts:
cherrypie111 · 17/12/2020 23:02

@veejayteekay

Ok so my reading of this is that they've taken the concept of testing your reaction to change to an inappropriate degree, it almost sounds as though the social worker has gone a bit rogue?!

So when we had our assessment we had a few things come up that it was pretty obvious were tests and were later revealed to be when we had got our PAR complete tho it came as no surprise to us as it was pretty transparent! Things like the social worker said she was running late on our first appt one evening and had to come at like 8pm (to test our flexibility), beginning of stage 1 they resisted our application a bit because my partner was doing a master's (this was one I didn't realise was a test so I got quite upset but with hindsight it was obvious they wanted to see our commitment to it and how we would manage competing priorities), and moments like in stage 2 we were given hypothetical Q's like whether we would just quickly pop out the house while baby asleep to go get a pint of milk or pick a parcel up while they slept.

These were peppered throughout our assessment and pretty obvious most of the time but I would reiterate these were minor and quite transparent. No way was our social worker messing with our panel date or making up claims about a change of team and while we did have to analyse our personalities it was always in a specific and measured in the context of how we would use our strengths together. It never felt like a personal attack or was based on flimsy vague things like being "fun"

From what you've posted she's taken the initial concept and basically taken it to the nth degree. Maybe this is a personality issue or she has misinterpreted something in her training (who knows) but either way I agree with others that this is unacceptable and that a complaint would be warranted. I'm sorry this is derailing your process for you but maybe an assertive conversation may be all it needs. Good luck

Thank you for this, really helpful seeing context of others journey. She called me precocious the other day so definitely feel we aren't jelling. Our biggest issue atm is since we pushed to change our first social worker I feel pushing back and being assertive again might make it seem like an us problem, common denominator and all that Angry so frustrating
OP posts:
cherrypie111 · 17/12/2020 23:09

@Jannt86

'Oh I'm sorry you don't think I'm fun. I'll change my video image to the giant pizza face and dance to agadoo on our next zoom chat shall I?!' Grin It all sounds a.bit dodgy but I think you're too far gone now to really change things so you're probably best just to keep calm and keep your nose clean. Sadly social workers do have the upper hand and sometimes you do just have to play the game. I am the biggest goofball going and my 2.5YO would testify to that but I HATE video calls with a passion and would probably find it very hard to show that side of myself on a video to a total stranger. I think your best strategy of dealing with this would be to calmly explain that they may be finding it hard to see that side of you on video calls whilst not being argumentative about it. Maybe ask if there's anything you can do to show your fun side. It sounds like a lot of this is just seeing how you cope under pressure though so as unfair as it is just try not to rise to it. It is a bit like childbirth. Once it's over and that child is your's for life you forget all the pain and torment. Good luck xx

Thank you for this, they have now pushed our panel date back 2 months so we can have more face to face meetings, which might be a good thing. My biggest issue is my sense of humor is very silly, which works great with kids but I do get self conscious as a younger adopter it would make me look immature so I might need to just throw caution to the wind!

It's just so strange as everyone I have mentioned this too literally burst out laughing when hearing someone doesn't think I'm fun, I'm usually the group clown so hopefully the referees have helped!
OP posts:
cherrypie111 · 17/12/2020 23:12

@percypetulant

There are many excellent social workers.

But they are human beings with their peculiarities, and they get bees in their bonnets about strange things.

Unfortunately, any profession like this with power over others can attract some abusive, or just strange individuals. Some are like this in all their lives. Some are only like this with adopters (because the dynamic is that adopters should do as they're told and be grateful). The checks and balances for how they treat adopters, especially for matching, just aren't there. There's no appeal for the matching stage, and SWs have a lot of power- power corrupts.

It's a system fault, really. The system should manage SW foibles, but it doesn't.

I definitely feel she is used to people being desperate and just asking how high when she barks jump.

The dynamic for us is very different as we don't 'need' to adopt, we are perfectly able to have a biological child if needs be so I do think this is where some of the tension comes from. Because we do push back if there is an odd request, whereas lots of the other adopters in our group (sw set them up) have said in our sessions they are too afraid to say anything because it's their last chance to have a family. It's so wrong as there is a clear atmosphere of fear and people aren't able to complain.
OP posts:
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