We are Family -Officially

Our final adoption order was granted a few weeks ago. We are now ‘legally’ Lucy’s parents. It was a big day. We were happy.

Understandably there were more mixed feelings for Lucy. You could tell she was happy that there was a security and permanency attached to it all, but at the same time she was clearly upset that this seemingly closed a door to going back to her birth parents, or even seeing them again until she is much older.

Which just left one thing – our ‘Celebration Hearing’.

This was a chance for us to go to court with family / friends and have this decision confirmed. I must admit this whole thing initial felt rather odd to me. Maybe it’s because there are two sides to adoption. Clearly I was happy that we are now legally Lucy’s parents. But it also seemed odd to be ‘celebrating’ her not seeing her birth parents again until she’s an adult (if she so chooses). It’s the kind of thing people tend to forget when they say ‘she’s so lucky’. I’m not sure I’d see being removed from my birth parents and siblings and (in some instances) not seeing them again as lucky. It may be right, and the best thing for a particular child, but I don’t think I’d call it lucky. What brought me around to enjoying the day however was Lucy. She was excited about it. She was excited that we were getting to go and see a judge and that her grandparents and aunty were going to be there too. The fact that a larger family gathering was then going to take place later – our adoption party – where she would be the centre of attention also made her happy. She even helped bake and decorate the chocolate cake for it.

The ‘Celebration Hearing’ itself was short and sweet. We went before the three judges and they made a quick speech, gave Lucy a teddy to ‘adopt’ and then let us take some photos to remember the event. All very nice and relaxed. Got the feeling that this was a task the judges also enjoyed. They also gave us a certificate to say it was all now official.

I also made a version for the teddy she brought with her when she came to us, to recognise the fact that he had been adopted too.

So, that’s it. No going back.

All this also, of course, means an end to regular social worker involvement in our lives. This will actually be quite odd in some ways. After almost three years of involvement in our lives it has become all rather normal. We will still have some ongoing contact around ‘contact letters’ each year, but essentially that will be it.

Family Drug And Alcohol Courts To Be Rolled Out Natiownwide

Totally agree with Natasha that this a good thing.

Researching Reform

Researching Reform have been fans of the Family Drug And Alcohol Court (FDAC) since Nick Crichton showed us the blue prints long before their implementation in the UK and we are delighted to see that the court is now being extended to other parts of the country.

With a proven track record for helping families with drug and alcohol addiction, most crucially beyond the process so that many families remain sober and drug free, its therapeutic approach to substance abuse and its child friendly ethos make it a positive and pioneering addition to the family justice system.

New locations for the court include East Sussex, Kent and Medway, Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter, and West Yorkshire.

Originally a US export, FDAC was so successful overseas that when Nick Crichton, who at the time was the only full time family law judge in England saw the blue prints for the project he…

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First Christmas

So … we made it through our first six months and through our first Christmas with Lucy. The time has flown by, and yet at the same time it also feels like Lucy has been part of our life for much longer than six months. What have I learned in the first six months? I’ve learned that my daughter is a naturally happy and fun little girl who enjoys life. Her default position is laughing and smiling (and running – she is incapable of walking, especially in the house). She broadly understands why she is now living with us, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel the loss from her birth parents or her siblings. Outside of life book/history work there is not much we can do to make the situation re: birth parents any better, but due to the wonders of Skype we have made a start on building the new bridges in her relationship with her siblings. A pre Christmas virtual get together seemed to be a success with them all. The first, we hope, of many – and also the first step to face-to-face get together’s between them this year.

What I have learned about myself is that I really need to be a bit more chilled out and less picky and nagging. It is always funny finding yourself doing things you’ve witnessed other couples doing – things that you’d inwardly tutted at, at the time. Parenting, at least, good parenting clearly takes some work. It is all very well having read what you ‘should’ do in certain circumstances, but it is much harder to be self aware enough at the time to implement a certain approach instead of reacting on auto-pilot and nagging or saying something shaming instead. As they say in the books, you shouldn’t beat yourself up about these things, but all the same you should also at least attempt to be the best parent you can be. I’ll be working on that during 2015.

As for Christmastime itself? Christmas was lovely. As the centre of attention for grandparents Lucy was in her element. Indeed, she was probably the best behaved of us on the day itself with both my partner and I having mini melt downs over various things – neither, it must be stressed aimed at or towards our daughter, who was mostly oblivious. We were prepared for some kind of thoughts towards her birth parents and siblings but none was forthcoming, we did sit and think about all of them at new year thought, when my partner told Lucy it was a time we thought about ALL the people we love. I expect these feelings of loss may become more of a Christmas event as time passes, but we shall see.

We did have some sad news over Christmas with the unexpected death of someone who had been involved with Lucy over the past year. They had been part of her journey and the loss was a sad one for all of us.

I don’t know what 2015 is going to bring. My main hope it that we all remain healthy through-out it and that we can all learn from one another, and smile a lot.

Because She’s Black

We’ve now passed the six month stage with Lucy, and overall things ahve being going well – she is, a happy, fun loving little girl. Our lives have ceratinly been improved and enriched by her entry into our lives.

This week however we had our first encounter with something unexpected. Lucy came home from school and in conversation with my partner declared she didn’t like someone in her class. Why? she was asked. The Reply? Because she’s black.

WHAT?

What followed was a discusion about just ‘what’ it was about this person she actually didn’t like, as well as what became a mini lecture on why we do not allow such statements or indeed attitutes in our household, and that the repeat of any similar statement would not be tolerated.

To be fair, we had had hints of this before. She has been a little cagey around some of our friends who are black.

Clearly we have more work to do.

What’s Shareable is bearable: New book on adoption and the importance of reading all you can

I love the sally Donovan book.

Information Overlord

If nothing is happening in the process – READ and the READ some more.

“Children who have experienced traumatic times, as we know, do not just ‘get over it’. Better to come to terms with this than live in hope that one day all will be fixed” – Sally Donovan – The Unoffical Guide to Adoptive Parenting

Today sees the release of Sally Donovan‘s latest book – The Unoffical Guide to Adoptive Parenting. It’s a terrific book from someone who both understands the realities of parenting an adoptive child and who herself has read and learned as much as possible to help herself be the best adoptive parent she can be [Read my review here] With that in mind I was thinking about adoption books and reading and concluded that the best advice I can give to anyone considering adoption is to read. Read every step…

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Form A58

So, we’ve filed in our Form A58*. This is the Application for an adoption order. What a lot of people, even friends and family’ don’t always understand is that Lucy is not legally ours yet. At the moment we are essentially foster carers, the legal responsibly for her lies with the local council. A child has to have been placed with you for a minimum of ten weeks before you can fill in this form and make an application to the courts to legally adopt the child.

We decided early on that we would not rush into this, but that we would only move forward if we were sure that Lucy was ready for us to do so. We have now reached that point. She understands what adoption is and she also understands that there is a permanency and a sort of safety provided by officially becoming part of the family. This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t still has thought about wanting to be back with her birth parents and siblings, but she does understand – as well as you can at five – that that isn’t going to happen. She is also positive about adoption and has asked on a number of occasions when she’ll be ‘totally adopted’.

The form is pretty straight forward and includes a question of whether the child’s parent(s)/guardian(s) has/have consented to the making of an adoption order. In some cases this is yes, but – as you’d expect – in most the answer is no. If it is no, they can choose to contest the making of the final order. We don’t know if either of Lucy’s parents will do so, but we would not be surprised if they do. The reality of most of these situations is that doing so makes little difference other than showing in the future – if and when the child searches for their birth parents and/or looks at their case records, they can see that birth Mom and Dad made a final effort to hold on to them.

In most cases the local council or adoption agency will ask the court to dispense with their consent on the following grounds:

• he/she/they cannot be found
• he/she/they lack capacity (within the meaning of the Mental Capacity Act 2005) to give consent
• the welfare of the child requires it.

In doing so they must also provide a statement of facts setting out a summary of the history of the case and any other facts to satisfy the court that the grounds for such a request applies.
Like much in this process, it is quite clinical.

If all goes to plan it will be sometime, probably Q1 in 2015, that Lucy officially becomes one of the family.

* It seems we forgot to sign one bit of the form and so the court wouldn’t accept it, so an additional delay in getting the legal ball rolling.

Shop and help charities

I discovered easyfundraising.org.uk today. It’s a quick and simple way to to raise money for any charity you support, simply by shopping online! You sign up and then install at web extension that reminds you when you visit partner sites to visit easyfundraising.org.uk, Select a retailer and start shopping, Make a purchase and raise a donation. Simple. Nice idea. I’ve signed up and selected The Open Nest Charity to benefit from any use I make of easyfunding.

The Open Nest is a creative, forward thinking charitable project born from personal experiences of the adoption and long term fostering of traumatised children. We aim to address the gap in the provision of specialist support services to adopted children who have anxiety and trauma related behaviours and in doing so support families in a meaningful and empathic way

Dear Edward Timpson

Must admit this sums up some of my own thoughts when reading ‘Ed Timpspn’s ‘letter’ to adoptors last week.

Adopting Safe Mummy Ways

This week all adopters received a “letter” from Children’s Minister Edward Timpson.  Well, I say letter, (for those who were not in receipt) it was a link to an website where I could download the letter!  So already, we had just another little thing to do …..

I read his letter with an open mind, yet my ‘coping mechanism’ of sarcasm soon made an appearance.  I was disappointed to be reading a curriculum vitae of what he has done, it was all me, me me.  So, here’s what I would have liked to be reading..

Dear Adopter

I wanted to say huge thank you for:

  • Saving the government millions of pounds by adopting these children and doing it for free!  (You’ve no idea how much they would have costs us, the government, the country, if these children had stayed in care).
  • Increasing the taxable income by consuming copious amounts of…

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Five

Lucy has just celebrated her first birthday with us. To quote my daughter the following day when I praised her for doing something. “That’s alright Daddy. I’m five, I’m a big girl,I know everything now”.

We had been warned that birthdays could be traumantic (even more so than for anyone with a child having a birthday). As it turned out this was one of the less stressful days of the past few weeks and the excitement of the day, the presents, the cards and the attention all overrode all else. She did ask about her siblings – they had sent a card after all, but was satisfied that we had not forgotten them and that our plan is still meet up with them in the new year. She asked if that was after she was ‘adopted’. We have now set the wheels in motion to apply to the court for a final order giving us full legal responsibility for Lucy, though I doubt this will be concluded before Q1 next year.

It is interesting seeing her playing with friends from school – we invited all for her birthday party [shared with another girl in her class]. When she was in nursery and the foster careers talked of her she was very much a leader and the first to put her hand up in any situation. Now she is more a follower and one of the least likely to put her hand up in class. Moves will do that to you. I had one myself though later in childhood that had a similar effect on me.

The other interesting thing has been seeing how family and friends have embraced her. Her grandparents could not be more besotted and in love with her if they tried. It matters not one jot that she is not our ‘natural’ child. They would all walk through fire for her. Various Aunts, Uncles and Cousins are equally besotted. There is a lot of love for her and a lot of people telling her how loved she is.

After a mere few days she’s already ready to be six – although first there is the question of Christmas. The start of the ‘when is it christmas’ questions period has begun. Suddenly it’s christmas, right after halloween, as Loudon Wainwright once said.

Seperating parents should still adopt jointly

The High Court has ruled on an interesting question of whether an adoption order should be made in favour of a couple who have separated since they issued their application to adopt.

In short, the answer was yes.

In fact when you read the version of the judgment released it is hard to see how any other conclusion could have been reached in this case. Both prospective parents continued to support an order making them joint parents, and the local authority’s social workers all agreed it would still be the best outcome for the child. Also key was the fact that the child had settled well with the family (which also includes two other children) and evidence that the ‘new’ family was working over the two households already.

Indeed, Mr Justice Moylan’s only real decsion in this cases seems to have been whether or not to approve joint adoption or to require the mother to re-submit to adopt as a single parent. The mother’s argument that not approving the order would also put the child at a disadvantage to the couple’s two ther children also held some sway with Mr Justice Moylan, who agreed the current order would secure the child’s legal and psychological welfare throughout her life.

A good decision.

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