200 days : a declaration

Today it’s 200 days since learning that our daughters’ birth parents had landed in our small town.  We are living a reduced, hypervigilant life. Every time we step out of the door with the girls we take a risk. Every time OH or I walk past the birth parents, they are totally high or drunk. Every day we scan the court reports to see if either of them have been imprisoned again. How desperate it is to hope that two other human beings will be imprisoned so that our girls can be safe! And what a damning indictment of the ‘caring’ services that we are still in this position, 200 days on.

The list of things our girls can no longer safely do in their own town is extensive. Go for an ice cream. Play in the park. Take part in concerts. Go to friends’ homes. Spend their pocket money.   Go to cafes and restaurants. Walk anywhere.  Take part in the Remembrance Day Parade. Go shopping with us. Use the sports centre. Go to kids clubs. Ride a bike. See the Christmas lights being switched on.  Visit OH at her work. Etc. Etc. Etc. 

Imagine being a child and not being able to do those things. How small your life would seem.  Heartbreaking, isnt it? Damaging too, when we’re constantly trying to help develop the girls’ attachment, confidence, social skills, and sense of safety.

A few weeks ago we finally got a completed risk assessment which, after months of battling, did not label or castigate us.  It says we’d be helped by having therapy.  We said ‘Yes please! We’d like therapy to help reduce the stress we’re under.’  Social work managers – the same ones who had signed off the risk assessment – said we couldn’t have it! The Social Worker had to ask them repeatedly, and then they demanded a report from our girls’ Clinical Psychologist about our stress levels before they’d agree to it!

Now The Adoption ‘Support’ Team are going further. They are refusing to even apply to the ASF for a sensory integration assessment for Bubble until our therapy is finished. Why? Apparently we wouldn’t be in a state to support her with it whilst we’re in therapy. But I’m currently supporting Squeak in her therapy, as they know. They tell me that’s ‘different’! And that they hope we ‘get over this crisis’ and then they will consider our request! 

Oh! And not forgetting their big fat ‘NO’ to respite so that we could have a break from caring for our disabled daughter. 

Why are we getting these responses from people paid to support adoptive families? The answer is simple. It is because we formally complained about their unprofessional and ignorant responses to our requests for support when the birth parents landed here. The big bullying local authority do what they always do when challenged: they become aggressive and intimidating.

So today, after 200 days of nonsense from the people who are paid to support adoptive families we are making a declaration: NO MORE!

We will no longer engage with petty, bungling and bullying bureaucrats who are so deeply mired in the flummery of this local authority that they have lost all sense of what social work is about. 

Like countless other adoptive parents, for the sake of our children we will go it alone. We want our girls to have fun, flourish, and grow up with confidence, believing that their horrific past does not determine their future. We can’t focus on that whilst we’re engaged in constant battles with workers who, far from doing what their professional registration dictates they should do, seem intent on increasing stress and trauma. 

So we’re stepping away. Far, far away from it all. We’re returning to living a considered life, away from the tangled, spiteful blundering of registered social workers who should know better, people whose job it is to protect and safeguard, and to promote the welfare of children. People who have lost any sense of the knowledge, skills and values that should inform social work practice, and who are instead engaged in punishing a family who has dared to complain. 

NO MORE!

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National What Week?

It’s that time of year again. It can be a bittersweet experience  for many of us. Nationally and locally the rhetoric will be unrelenting. Adoption is a GOOD thing. Do YOU have the love to give a child? Etc. and turgid so forth.

Those of us who are affected by adoption all have a different and individual story to tell. 

I love Bubble and Squeak. Sometimes my heart feels as if it will burst for them. I have cried tears of joy. I look at my partner loving them and I feel deep love for our family.

We are lucky. We have a good, no a great,  Adoption  Social  Worker. She gets ‘it’, the Big T. Trauma. She listens. She observes. She supports.  She provides access to psychological assessments. We’re about to start therapy funded by the Adoption  Support  Fund.

We struggled for over a year to get access to that support. We were initially told by the team manager we were ‘anxious’, that Bubble was a ‘typical’ child.  We were not anxious; we were furious.  We went to the Head of the service in order to get the support our family needs.

When I went back to work after adoption leave I asked to work flexibly. Managers prevaricated and then rejected my request.  I had to go to the Director to get my request approved.  I’ve  been doing the same hours for 2 years. Now my employers want me to work full time again.

I can’t support Bubble and Squeak and work full time. It is that simple.

I wasn’t  offered any other solution. There was no discussion at all. Just a rejection. I have appealed. They have not reached a decision. I have had to submit a grievance. They have not responded.  And then there’s the intimidation. I’ve  submitted another grievance. They have not responded.

We’re now past the date they told me I have to return to full time hours.

The stress at times feels overwhelming. Luckily I’m an adopter and have learned to be hardy and resilient. I am fighting back. I have the union and Google on my side. My employer has access to lawyers and HR on theirs. It feels like a secular version of  David and Goliath.

And whilst all this rages on I still support my adopted children and work as best I can.

My job? I’m a local authority social worker.

So my message in National  Adoption Week is simple: listen to all those lovely happy ever after stories if you will. But don’t  be fooled. For the government and local authorities it’s about statistics. For those of us in the thick of it, it’s  more about survival.