Hitched

9 08 2010

Crap Dad is just about to leave the house for a meeting at work when the phone rings.

“Hi it’s the SW, as you know,  it’s the final adoption hearing tomorrow for Lolly.  I need to tell you that both birth parents are going to be there.  Birth dad is not happy about how contact has been going and birth mum has decided that she’s now in a different place and is wanting Lolly to be placed back with her.  She says that she can now look after Lolly herself.”

Crap Dad takes a deep breath before he responds.

“So, what does this mean for us?” he enquires.

“Well, if the judge thinks there are grounds for birth mums appeal then they will set a date for a new hearing. You’ll need to get a solicitor if that happens.

Alternatively, the judge may think that there no grounds for her appeal and make the the adoption order.

There have been appeal hearings but, so far as we are aware, none have been upheld in England .

My view is that any judge looking at the case has to consider the child’s best interests. As Lolly has been placed with you for so long, I can’t see how it would be in her interest to have another disruption.

I’ll give you ring as soon as I get out of the hearing.”

“OK, speak to you tomorrow, thanks.”

Crap Dad takes another deep breath before calling GM.





Choices

6 06 2010

“picit” says LML when she is handed her early morning cup of milk.  It’s 5.40am and GM, who has been up with the girls for 20 minutes, decides that as it is Sunday, the girls can start the day with a biscuit.

GM gets the biscuit tin from the kitchen and offers LML her choice.  Normally there are one or two types of biscuit in the tin.  Today there are three types and LML makes a move towards one and then another but she is unable to decide which to have.

“LML, would you like me to choose for you?” asks GM

LML nods her head and a look of intense relief crosses her face, as GM passes her one of her favorite types of biscuit.





Pysched-out

27 05 2010

At the end of an ISAR meeting CD calls the Ed-Psych over. She has just run through her report which will form the basis for the funding that will support LML when she goes to primary school. Her report means that LML will get significant one-to-one support, which is a relief to the problem parents.

CD, “As you know we haven’t asked for a statement for LML, do you think we should consider making a request?” he asks.

Ed-Psych, “Well, the process for a statutory assessment would mean that I would write a report like the one I have just completed, in fact I very often write reports that are less detailed than this one. All the other professionals involved would write reports too….” she goes off into the detail about the process which CD already knows, having done his research.

CD, “We are really pleased with the support that we and LML are receiving and we haven’t felt the need to make a request but I suppose my concern is about the future.”

Ed-Psych, “Yes, the thing about a statement is that if things start to go wrong then, whilst it is bureaucratic, you can refer back to it. I think given where LML is at and her circumstances I’d be very surprised if she didn’t receive a statement if you requested one.”

CD, “Yeah, I think we should talk to parent partnerships and go from there”

Ed Psych, “I think that’s a good idea.”





just one more thing…

7 04 2010

As CD talks to the Homeless Officer who has phoned, GM looks over his shoulder at his notes whilst she comforts the poorly Lolly.

Drinking Problem” she reads, and nods her head.  No surprises there, as Big Sis had already talked to them about that.

CD makes affirmative noises down the phone as GM walks away, talking to Lolly who has calmed down a little and seems ready to be put down again.

GM hears a sigh and looks across the room at CD. As he talks to the Homeless Officer about how his daughter has alienated all her friends and that as far as he knows she really has no-where to stay tonight CD shakes his head.  GM walks across the room to look at the next note that he has written.

Pregnant?” is what she reads, and she feels her stomach flip.  She echos CD’s sigh, and rubs her temples.

_______________________________

Later Big Sis sits in their living room and CD tries to go through big Sis’s options with her. Big Sis has been given advice by the Local Authority homelessness team, but has been told that currently she is not in priority need, so they will not provide temporary or emergency accommodation.

The Mostly Functional Parents have agreed that they will pay for Bed & Breakfast accommodation for Big Sis for a couple of nights whilst she tries to secure something that is longer term.

“What about the question of whether you are pregnant?” asks GM, “Is that a real possibility, or were you just hoping it would help with the homeless assessment?”

Big Sis glances at GM and shrugs “I could be” she says, “I might be”.  GM waits for her to say more but she doesn’t.

“If you are we need to find out, as you’ll have a right to temporary accommodation straight away,” says GM.  Big Sis is looking at the TV, and GM cannot fathom what she might be thinking.  “Big Sis” she says, “If you are pregnant, you don’t have to decide what to do about that right away you know. You wouldn’t have to keep it just because you get somewhere to live, but if you are pregnant you will have a window of stability and probably some support and advice about that and the drinking …” she petered out, not getting much of anything from Big Sis.





ISAR

25 03 2010

It wasn’t that long ago that the Mostly Functional parents regularly left the nursery after an ISAR meeting (Inclusion and SEN Action Record) wondering what they had to do to convince the nursery staff to adopt a different approach to LML. Today’s meeting, the first with staff from the school that LML will attend from September, which included the Specialist SEN Nursery Worker employed by the education authority and the speech and language therapist, was a revelation. The nursery staff  articulated LML’s support needs, outlined her issues and were very clear about how delayed she is (she is operating in the range of 8 – 20 months – she’s 4).  Before the Mostly Functional parents could respond to suggestions from the school staff about how they might manage LML in the new setting the nursery staff regularly responded with “no, she won’t be able to cope with that, you might want to consider this…”.

All crap dad could think of was ‘by jove, I think they got it!!!’

The teacher from the school looked a little shell shocked at times but remained engaged and enthusiastic. She was keen to arrange language development, makaton and attachment disorder training for her and her colleagues. As the meeting broke up she was in a huddle with the school SEN co-ordinator and the nursery’s teacher arranging to attend the nursery and observe LML.

Since making the choice of which  school the Mostly Functional would attend the Mostly Functional parents have periodically fretted about whether they had made the right decision… today it definitely felt like the right choice.





double edged sword

22 02 2010

The letter box clatters and a pile of stuff lands on the door mat. Amongst the pile is a letters is a brown envelope from the Department of Work and Pensions. ‘Wow, that was quick’ thinks Crap Dad’. He opens the letter and scans the page, its states that its about the mostly functional parents application for Disability Living Allowance for LML.

Not really reading it, believing that it will say that their application has been turned down, he is surprised find that they have been awarded the ‘middle rate care component’. He’s initially pleased, that’s nearly £50 a week extra income. Then there is a wave of sadness as he realises that it is also a recognition of how hard he and Grumpy Mum have to work on a daily basis to support and care for their beautiful child.





Death by Meeting – Introductions planning and other exiting events

10 06 2009

If there was anything which could have dampened our excitement at the impending arrival of Little Sis it was the ‘Introductions Planning’ Meeting. Attending with us was our social worker, Little Sis’s SW, the foster carer and the chair of the meeting, a woman from the after adoption support team.

The meeting took two and a half hours! The first hour of which was spent completing a form that should have been completed beforehand, as nearly all the information was in previous forms.

We then planned when and how we were going to move Little Sis to her new home. The chair, who had spoken to the foster carer the day before for the first time, was at pains to ensure that we are introduced to Little Sis slowly. So for the first week we are only seeing her an hour a day every other day.

Then we move on to half days first at the foster carers, learning her routine and gradually taking over from the foster carer. After 4 days Little Sis will then come home for a visit of about an hour. From then on the focus will be Little Sis coming home in increasing amounts until she the big move.

As we were winding up the meeting the Chair was expressing concerns that Little Sis had only spent one full day at her new home before the move. She’d planned the process so that it ended on a Friday, because the social workers involved don’t work over the weekend, and was then saying maybe we could extend the process over the weekend. Both CD, GM and their SW were quick to scotch that proposal. It was agreed things would be considered at he review meeting – which is held only two days before the move takes place

The chair was also concerned that the mostly functional parents would have very few breaks in the process. CD and GM assured her that with so many hours to spare on so many days they were OK and didn’t need to take a day off.

CD tried to create some space towards the end of the introductions for the foster carers to ‘say their goodbyes’. Foster mum, at the thought of saying ‘goodbye’ burst into floods of tears. Which seemed to prove his point, but was not built into the plan because she said she’s be OK. That would also put us into the weekend and, of course, without SW support.

There was then a lengthy discussion on whether Little Sis should be picked up from the foster carers and taken home or whether the foster carers should drop her off on moving day. It seems the two local authorities have different rationales for their ways of managing moving day. Foster mum made the decision for us when she said that she felt she couldn’t drive after dropping off Little Sis, so she wanted the mostly functional parents to pick Little Sis up.

So there we have it. We meet Little Sis for the first time today (Wednesday 10th) and she comes home on or about the 26th June.

How exciting!!!





“You do it…” “No, you do it”

6 05 2009

We adopted LML through one Local Authority, the birth parents moved, had little sis and now we’re dealing with another Local Authority, as well as the original one. Given the current political climate in the UK regarding child protection, you’d think that the interests of the child would be at the centre of the decision making processes. However, this supposedly overriding principle seems to get lost in territorialism. Because we wanted our original SW to assess us for our second adoption the new local authority seems to have taken offence. From the feedback we have they seem to want to abrogate any responsibility for the child that is currently in their care, who is to be our daughter.

One off-shoot of this is that the child’s SW, who is relatively new to child protection, is unsupported and making mistakes. She is NOT on the ball. The process has already taken far too long and now she has missed the deadline for our matching panel. This means that rather than meeting our daughter at the beginning of June, it is more likely to be the end.

Oh the frustration.





Decisions, decisions

26 04 2009

We decided to adopt for a whole host of reasons. Although we were not fixed on what sort of child we wanted, we decided very early on that we wanted two children and when we were approved to adopt it was for two children under 5.

Eventually our Social Worker (SW) came with the sheet of paper, which was literally three quarters of a side of A4 giving an outline of Little Miss Loud’s (LML) circumstances. It was both exciting and really, really scary. As soon as she left we were on the web looking up some of the medical terms she had talked to us about. Looking up stuff around premature birth and child development. We were faced with complex medical problems, an uncertainty about her development and a difficult family background. Four other adopters had looked at LML and decided to not pursue the process any further and we had to think long and hard before we said yes.

We decided we could provide LML with the significant amount of support she would need initially due of her developmental delay and understood that there was uncertainty about how long this would continue. We also welcomed LML into our lives knowing that we would probably still be addressing some of the issues around the circumstances of her adoption throughout her childhood and into adulthood.

There were the decisions about how we were going to look after LML. We made a decision to reduce our work hours and both now work part-time. Crap Dad works the first part of the week, Grumpy Mum works the latter, therefore LML only needs to go to a children’s centre one day a week. Of course this means that LML gets loads of input and support, but we have had to learn how to live on a reduced income as it it now half of what it was.

Once we had made the choice to go ahead with the match we had to consider who and what we told about why LML was being adopted. Because of LML’s background we decided that we would only disclose everything to our teenage daughter, Big Sis,. For everyone else we decided that we’d just tell them she has a complicated background which meant that there were limits on what we could tell them about it. We decided that LML’s background is her own, to disclose or not as she grows up and understands more.

One of the decisions we had to make early on was how we were going to deal with those “so your child’s adopted” questions.

During the first week of LML coming home Crap Dad took her to the park and was pushing her on the swings. LML was very unsure about what she needed to do and it was clear that having been at the foster carers since leaving hospital LML had rarely, if at all, been to the playground. A mum, with a child that was about half of LML’s age, placed her child in the swing next to LML’s, the child was confident and knew exactly what to do. LML, who was 18 months old and had no words just squawks and squeaks, was clearly nervous and struggling. The mum watched as CD started to teach LML how to hold onto the swing. The mum started to talk to CD about LML, asking how old she was. CD started to explain about LML being born prematurely but panicked because he hadn’t got the ‘script’, hadn’t yet rehearsed his responses to such questions and he soon fled the playground, only to return once we had talked more about how we would deal with these inevitable conversations.

People make assumptions that your child is a birth child. CD met someone who he used to work with and they asked, ‘is she your daughter?’ When he replied ‘yes’, they said ‘I thought so, she has your eyes.’

Grumpy Mum was once at at playgroup and one of the other mothers made a comment about LML’s delay. GM responded by saying it may be due to LML being born so prematurely. The other mum said that must have been hard and GM responded, ‘I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t there!’

We soon made a very concious decision and effort to be open and honest to everyone about LML being adopted. It’s now a part of our every day discourse.

After LML came home to us we made the decision to wait to apply for the adoption order because there were a number of issues where we believed we and she needed support. Until you have that adoption order form the court, your child is still classed as a ‘looked after child’, and this means that you can get better access to services as they are given priority. For example her delay meant that she needed a full team assessment – which is where different medical disciplines, health visitors and social workers meet to assess the child’s development and agree what their support needs are. One of the support needs identified for LML was to access portage. When we met the portage manager she asked if LML was still looked after? If she hadn’t still been a looked after child then it would have been a three month wait as it was we had our portage worker three weeks later.

The decision which took the longest to make? What surname to give LML once she had been adopted. Grumpy Mum and Crap Dad are not married, and never likely to be. The question of what surname spun around and and around for months before the inevitable compromise of joining their surnames together with a hyphen. LML has become double barrelled!

We are consciously aware that the decisions we make affect LML and how she is perceived by the people around her, so we try very hard to make decisions with care and a great deal of thought.








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