Letter Box Contact

11 11 2010

Bring, bring…. bring bring

“Hello, letter box service”

“Hi, it’s Crap Dad, LML and Lolly’s dad. We’ve just received our letter box contact from birth mum and birth grandmother. I’m afraid they are again unacceptable. Both of them have the senders address and telephone numbers on, they are full of things like, ‘I’ll find some way to see you soon’, ‘ We’ll together again one day…’ I don’t want my daughters to see these. I’m going to have to send them back to you.”

“That’s OK Crap Dad. Would you like us to check them in future to see if they are appropriate or not?”

“Yes please.”

“OK, we’ll do that. Send them back to me and I’ll put LML and Lolly’s files in the red folder.”

“Thank you. Bye”

Brrrrr.





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.





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!!!





Approval Ratings

3 06 2009

We met the social workers at the appointed time outside the ornate council offices. We were there first, GM insisting we allow plenty of time. Shortly after we arrived our social worker turned up followed closely by Little Sis’s social worker.

We made a our way to the reception area, which was cavernous, and sat there waiting. After 10 minutes or so the chair of the panel came out and introduced herself and asked us to follow her down the long corridor.

The room was full of people all willing to make eye contact and offer reassuring smiles. After a round of introductions the first question was aimed at Little Sis’s SW. ‘Why’, the panel had wanted to know, ‘had it taken so long to get to this stage.’

‘Oh, this is going to be fun’ thought CD to himself.

The SW gave a hesitant response which sort of covered the bases but left out the fact that this was her first child protection case that has become an adoption and she floundered about with it because of a lack of support from the city’s adoption team.

The rest of the questions were nowhere near as interesting. The panel asked about how GM and CD were going to manage introductions. How they were going to manage without either of them owning a driving license, never mind a car. How they were preparing Little Miss Loud and what were Big Sis’s plans (a question they’ve asked themselves a number of times!)

The best question came from a panel member who asked, ‘How did they manage the complicated contact arrangements with LML’s and Little Sis’s siblings. CD stated that it wasn’t complicated at all, we see LML’s full siblings once a month and we saw the half siblings twice last year. That we have plans to meet up again soon. We just organise it amongst ourselves informally.

Then, in what seemed like no time at all, it was over. We were asked to go and sit the cavernous reception area, an area where people were coming and going and were there was no privacy. The SW’s were asked to stay in the meeting and followed us a few minutes later.

After only a few minutes the chair of the panel arrived and sat with us. She said that the panel were very impressed by how calm we were and that we had clearly thought about the implications of adopting a second child and she stated, “It is with great pleasure that we approve the match.”

And that was it. A bit of a debrief with the SW’s and a review of our next steps and it was all over.

Little Sis is coming home to us.





“Can we clone you?”

12 05 2009

Ring, Ring…. Ring Ring…

“Hello” says Grumpy Mum.

“Oh, Hi Grumpy Mum. It’s the Social Worker here. About today’s hearing. We have a problem. One of the panel members if unable to attend because they are sick and another knows your family, so has declared an interest and can’t sit on the hearing, so it will be inquorate. We’re trying to get someone else to step in. We may have to cancel.”

“Oh, OK.”

“I’ll call you back if we have any news.”

Brrrrrrr.

Damn

30 minutes later.

Ring, Ring… Ring, Ring.

“Hello GM, it’s me again. We’ve got someone, but we are going to have to reschedule your hearing. Can you get here for 4pm? Will you be ok for childcare for LML?”

“Yes Yes” was the relieved reply.

Our Adoption Approval Panel hearing, to become 2nd time adopters was back on. Phew!

In the end it was straightforward, we had pretty much guessed the questions as we walked along the road to the the adoption agency offices. There was only one ‘curve-ball’ which was around the support we provide to our friends and their boys (more about the boys another time).

When we went in, the chair of the panel was very complimentary, then panel members asked us the questions (which they had already given to us 15 minutes before going in), and that was it – “please go and wait for us to make a decision”.

A couple of minutes later the chair came into the room, beaming ..

“Can we clone you?” she began. “We are really impressed with your commitment to sibling contact, it will be so important to LML in her later life”

“You are clearly a resilient, loving and supportive couple”

“You have a clear understanding and commitment to the adoption process”

“We therefore approve you as second time adopters!”

Beam …

“oh – and I don’t know if I should say this GM, but I know your big sister, please say hello to her from me!”





“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.








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