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Almost immediately the support previously offered to me by the LA/Social Workers was withdrawn.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.