I recently blogged about my experiences at matching and introductions with my girls. I’ve decided that I should follow up by talking about what happened once the girls came home and leading up to the Adoption Order (AO).
Once the girls were placed with me it quickly became clear that all was not as I had been lead to believe. As an adopter I was well aware that some issues would only surface on placement and I suspected that not everything would have been listed on the CPRs. However even a post adoption support SW at the placing authority recently told me she was surprised at the lack of transparency in the girls’ reports.
Life with the girls proved very ‘challenging’. One day I made the mistake of mentioning to the girls’ SW (let’s call her Emma) that I was concerned that some of the issues hadn’t been mentioned pre-placement. All hell broke loose and due to that comment I came very close to having the children removed.
Emma refused to admit there were any issues at all with the girls. She began ringing people who had contact with us, seemingly trying to gather evidence of my many failures as a parent. This made life very difficult as some of the comments she made for example to the girls’ nursery made them treat me with great suspicion. There were unpleasant phone calls where Emma accused me of inventing problems and lying about life at home. It’s hard to explain what was happening without giving too much private information but I was made to feel like I was under suspicion of emotionally abusing the girls in some way.
My SW, Helen, and I decided I should lodge the AO immediately with the courts to ensure the girls couldn’t be removed so easily by SS. This resulted in Helen receiving an email from the SW’s manager, requesting an urgent meeting, threatening to oppose the AO in court and making it clear that they had no confidence in the placement. However the manager refused to discuss anything properly in advance of the meeting.
I’m not sure if anyone can imagine how this felt and I’m not clever enough with words to describe it properly. The girls had been home 9 months. Despite our difficulties they were my children. And now I might lose them. Worse the meeting was then delayed for a couple of months. I’ll never forget that time – every time I looked at my girls I would feel sick wondering what was going to happen. I desperately tried to create as many simple memories of family life for the girls as I could in case they were taken from me.
Though my parents and a couple of friends were supportive, I was on my own as a single adopter and knew I would have to fight to defend myself. Does that sound too dramatic? Maybe – but that was how it felt. It was a very frightening and lonely time.
The meeting itself was long and tough. It began very badly and hearing Emma criticise me was not pleasant. Though I am far from being a great parent the things she was accusing me of were just not true. I tried to explain myself but was shouted down. Things only began to change when my very experienced SW was finally able to speak and started to defend me. Helen had spent far more time with us than Emma and was able to refute the misrepresentations and lies. In fact she pointed out it was she who had first identified some of the girls’ issues and drawn my attention to them.
The tone of the meeting changed, Emma was silenced, the manager backtracked and eventually it was agreed that they would support the AO in court. After the meeting the manager said to Helen that if she had not come to the meeting that day she had no doubt that the outcome of the meeting would have been very different.
Obviously I was delighted and relieved but I couldn’t understand how things had been allowed to get to this stage. This could have all been avoided instead of causing an immense amount of stress over a period of several months.
I was left wondering how this ended up happening to us and questioning my ability to parent my children. Even now I am far less trusting about what I share even with those who care about us and when someone tells me how cute or lovely my girls are what I actually think is ‘do they doubt what I am saying?’ I’m not sure that feeling will ever go away.