My Story

I adopted a little boy in 2011, and had to return him back to state care in 2013 after two years with him for extreme medical reasons only. When I adopted him there was no indication from the Local Authority (LA), the Social Workers, Doctors or Foster Carers that this child had been born seriously neurologically impaired.  This is yet another side to the story which has not been fully covered by the Adoption Disruption meeting I attended. I am sure many of you have experienced something similar.

Over two years with my son, the problems exacerbated. He couldn’t roll over at 18 months old. He seemed to lack muscle tone; he couldn’t communicate ( I learned sign language) and he was later diagnosed with Autism. In the last six months prior to him going back into care, we practically lived at hospital in HDU during which time he was blue lighted approximately 22 times and his life hung in the balance several times. His inexplicable seizures (up to 36 in 24 hours) were finally diagnosed by GOSH as being part of a wider symptom of neurological brain damage with poor long term health prognosis. Utterly exhausted and having concluded with GOSH and doctors and social workers that this was a child who would need more than 2 carers and require 24/7 medical care and supervision  for the rest of his life I was also told there was no care package available so I could provide for him at home. I was faced with the stark reality that I could no longer care for him.

To clarify, the same situation would have occurred whether he had been my birth child or not.

As a single adopter I was in no position to care for his extensive medical needs, maintain a roof over our heads and preserve any degree of normality.  On April 11th 2013 my child was returned to care with a system in place of four adults attending to his needs 24/7.

Almost immediately the support previously offered to me by the LA/Social Workers was withdrawn.   Further, I received no support from the Local Authority/Social Workers post the Care Order and discovered the route to adoption again was less than clear or positive.

My child was only returned because of his medical circumstances and not through lack of devotion or love.

Having lost my child in desperately sad circumstances I was then made to appear four times in court regarding the Care Order. I had to also endure the Adoption Disruption meeting, juggle court appearances and cope with the loss of a child.  Despite the fact that I was completely supportive of the Care Order I was then isolated by the LA and have had only one social worker visit me to date.

What makes my case highly unusual is that I challenged the Threshold Criteria put forward by the LA and presented a no blame approach whereby the Care Order was granted because of the potential of harm to come to my son with two parties separately managing his social, medical, educational needs and so on. No single party was blamed for the circumstances which led to my son being returned to care.  The Judge accepted the Mother’s (my) Threshold Criteria and rejected the LA’s/Social Worker’s criteria for the Care Order.

I was exceptionally lucky to have a very proactive & forward thinking Judge at the time of my court appearances. I presented my own statements and own defence and have shown it is possible to win against the LA’s and gain a no blame Care Order, but denigration of Parents in whose child has complex psychological or medical care these is against human rights and needs to stop.

Support for the Parent is non existent.   I support a no blame approach in obtaining a Care Order and am proactive in initiating this with the current government. Please see the Petition which explains the problem with Care Order as it stands in the UK.

Judge Munby is highly vocal on family courts and advocates putting social workers in witness box so they can no longer hide under the umbrella of protection afforded them currently by their Local Authority.

We need everyone’s support to change the Care Order form because it effects ALL parents

Currently there is no online support or information dedicated to  Parents who have suffered an Adoption Disruption or for natural parents who have lost a child and gone through a Care Order.  I set up this support group and information site to help others in a similar situation and to help clarify that there are ways forward particularly where future adoption is concerned.

If any information is on here which is not up to date then please let me know and it will be remedied.

It is also a place to find a shoulder to cry on, support you and help you when you as a parent are most vulnerable.

There is light at the end of the tunnel and the journey of 1000 miles begins with one small step.





16 thoughts on “My Story

  1. FinallyAFamily2013 says:

    What a great site, I wish it every success! Have you been able to start an adoption process for another child? What age was your first child when placed with you?


    • Irene says:

      Hi Claire
      Our adoption (of 2 little girls) broke down in April 2013. It was absolutely heartbreaking. However we picked up the pieces and went on to adopt again in February 2014. Our daughter (who was four when we adopted her) is very settled, happy and thriving in her new home. I just thought you would find it encouraging to hear about a successful adoption, following an adoption disruption.
      Irene x


  2. Marie Kershaw (@mkershaw_uk) says:

    Hi Clare, I was so sorry to read about your experience of adoption breakdown. As a Clinical Psychologist working with adoptive families in a local authority setting, I have worked with several families going through the devastating experience of adoption breakdown. In our team we work hard to help colleagues on the front line social work teams to understand the additional layers of complexity when a child returns to care from adoption, and to understand that at times, there is a need to pro-actively plan for a child’s return to care where the situation at home has become untenable for a variety of often complex reasons.

    In my experience, no adopter wants to find themselves in a situation where they are having to consider their child returning to care. It is not a decision that is taken lightly or easily, rather it is a decision that is usually filled with much heartache, guilt and pain. Where this very difficult decision HAS to be taken, parents and children need support to plan for the breakdown in as positive a way as possible in the circumstances. We have a long way to go to help educate the system and develop sensitivity in working with families going through adoption breakdown, but there are pockets of good practice around. I think the more awareness that is raised of this issue the better and I wish you all the best in this endeavour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • AdoptDisruptUK says:

      Thank you Paul – it is definitely attracting the positive attention I was hoping for and already collecting names for database so people can be in touch with each other and offer support.


  3. Al Coates says:

    Your story is truly heartbreaking and the implications for all concerned must be truly traumatising, obviously for you but for everyone touched by the experience.
    As a family we have been touched by disruption, very different to your experience, but never the less difficult and painful.
    Wishing you well with the needed support group.


  4. Nigel Priestley says:

    I am a solicitor specialising in adoption breakdown. I currently have cases in Brighton Bradford Newcadtle and Northampton plus am advising clients on the issue. I’d be very happy to touch base with you. I write an occasional column for Adoption UK and we have a website My mob no is 07885430085 office no 01484538421. Nigel Priestley.


  5. Nigel Priestley says:

    There are few more distressing situations than this. As a lawyer I sat on the advisory group in respect of Prof Julie Selwyn’s Report on Adoption Breakdown published last year. It’s a very important report which highlights the v challenging situations adopters find themselves in. But for an adoptive parent facing Care Proceedings – it can be a minefield.


  6. Peter Dale says:

    Clare, thank you for sharing your sad story. Sadly, as evidenced by the recent Selwyn research, constructive post-adoption support is exceedingly thin on the ground. I am very pleased that the Care Order was made on a ‘no blame’ basis (rather than for potential harm in relation to yourself).

    With all of your research in this area, do you know whether it will be possible at some stage for the original adoption order to be revoked?


    • artbyclairephotography says:

      Hi peter
      thanks for your response. I appreciate it and glad you understand the issues surrounding the care order. Do you mean will my son be ‘unadopted’ by me? im not sure that’s the right phrasing but the answer is no – he is too ill to be put up for adoption ever again and will always be my son, and I have parental responsibility with him which I share with the local authority. Let me know if I understood you correctly.


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