My name is Hannah, and in 2017 after years of struggle, I allowed the Local Authority to place my adopted son in in a therapeutic foster placement under a Section 20 agreement. He remains there now.
I am fully aware of recent press coverage relating to adoptions failing. Sadly those parents who have made the toughest decision you could ask are often vilified. We all have opinions about other people, but all I would say is that we should try and put ourselves in their shoes for a bit, and see if we can do any better.
Ask us how we feel?
I can assure you that most of these parents already feel like abject failures. They may feel they have failed to help, failed to get support, and finally failed to cling on, to their family. It is so distressing to think about what these parents go through, for years, to end up not being able to help enough. They feel like shits.
We are brave
You don’t give up on your child, in fact the bravest thing you could do is to say you need help, and if you do join the Section 20 club, it is with your child’s interests front and centre. You are probably not a trained therapist, all you wanted to do was be a parent. You understood it would be hard, and you researched every detail of your child’s history, you ate therapy books for breakfast, you changed your life, you probably lost a few friends, jobs, sleep, hair, your marbles along the way. But if you couldn’t help, then you needed to find someone who could.
Ministry of Silly Walks
You then enter something that feels like a parallel universe, you learn a lot, and get even more stressed out trying to deal with the bureaucracy of the Children’s Services (formerly known as Social Services). A bit like starting a new job, you need to learn new terminology and work out who is important, who can do important stuff. One of these is an IRO, an Independent Reviewing Officer. They are important, they even have their own handbook. Their job is to oversee the “case” and hold the Local Authority to account. But they work for the Local Authority too. In the same building as the Social Workers. Who they know. Let’s face it they must see some dreadful cases, but if your children have not been removed from you, they can’t work out which box to fit you in. So they do end up holding you responsible for the traumatic effects on your adopted child. You’ve got your Social Workers, your Team Leaders, your Virtual Schools, PEPs, advocates… the list is endless. But remember, none of them are there for you, they are there for the child, and that is great. To be frank they don’t work together, like a well-oiled machine, things are not done in a timely fashion, you still can’t stop struggling for support for your child. The space / time continuum is different in the world of Social Services. So you continue feeling like the world’s worst parent, and this is backed up now by having no control over what happens (or doesn’t) , and a diminishing voice as well. They don’t like to call it adoption breakdown, they call it adoption disruption, and by heck are many lives “disrupted”.
They have to blame someone
Imagine then, feeling blamed. You put all your heart into trying to parent a child that may have suffered significant trauma, the outcome of which no-one could have predicted. But it turns out that the consensus is that it’s your fault, as you weren’t good enough to stop it falling apart.
I hope this helps
So I wrote a book. For me, and anyone like me, who feels like a funny sort of mum or dad. I know I am a bit of a chunterer, so I vented my frustrations on paper, not really expecting anyone but me to read my wafflings, more to get it out of my own system. But I wished that somebody had spoken out publicly to try to tell the other side of the story, from an adoptive parent perspective. So I thought stuff it, I needed words or wisdom, and knowledge and support, and I couldn’t find a lot, so I put it out there. I will stress that this story is my side, my truth, and my opinion. Opinions are like backsides, we’ve all got one. This is just about me, my family and my dog. But inevitably it has divided people, but there have been some reassuring words too. And that means I have achieved my goal, someone somewhere feels less alone, and actually now, so do I.
I’ve linked the book for you , it’s called My Dog Eats Plant Pots … that’s normal isn’t it?
The End … well almost
I think that’s all I wanted to say, and for those of you that know, or do read this masterpiece, things haven’t got better, in fact our dealings with Social Services have taken a turn for the surreal. The good news is that my hairy little hound is still eating all the plant pots, has developed a penchant for chasing squirrels for their nuts, and is generally living the dream in her dotage!