This is not a quote from a person receiving expert therapy or support from a professional allocated to assist them in their parental or caring role. It is not even a quote from an adopter. This is what a special guardian said after reading Pernell Meier’s incredibly perceptive blog about the problems with post adoption social work – how those who are supposed to help, actually cause unintentional harm – through a lack of real understanding.
You can read the blog here
“I feel like she just walked into my head and took out my thoughts entirely. Adopters and SGO’s share so many of the same issues and this lady sums it up beautifully. I could cry reading this, makes me feel that perhaps I am ‘normal’ and the insanity of my life isn’t in my head but is created by the tiniest little blonde headed boy with the face of an angel and the ability to create hell in a situation that should be heavenly”
One of our adopter members who has been through the ordeal of court and lost her child to a Care Order, after things became really tough, felt the article did not go far enough for the UK context, where the Family Courts, which are not problem solving, and cannot tell Local Authorities what to do, can be so problematic for our families. Current legal frameworks and legislation are allowing loving parents who ask for help to be depicted and judged as the reason the child is considered ‘at risk’ of harm, and the child to be removed – with no way home. There are no models for reunification when a parent or carer does not need to be reformed – See Option 13 of the Care Crisis Review’s ‘Options for Change’.
We are finding Local Authorities take a very selective approach to the presentation of a child’s wishes and feelings in court proceedings and LAC Reviews and our children are ‘rescued’ instead of helped, from the families who were supposed to be the solution – and end up being judged as part of the problem.
What happens when you disagree with the local authority about the approach they take?
Be prepared for a battle you may never win. It can be very hard to stand up to a local authority as they will back the professionals, not the service users – and parents and carers can be confronted by a ‘closing of ranks’. No organisations will challenge the ‘opinion’ of a professional in our system. Doing so as an individual can, we have found, lead to victimisation rather than support. One is viewed and depicted as being obstinate, disagreeable in nature, unable to work with professionals, challenging or just plain ‘difficult’.
Once your child is removed and in the care of the corporate parent, whether under Section 20 or Section 31, it is very difficult to advocate for them – in a system that divides and does not support what we call the ‘parenting from a distance’ role. Partnership working is hard to achieve.
How have UK adopters responded to Pernille’s blog?
Well known blogger Hannah meadows has described it as the best blog she has read for a long time.
The POTATO (Parents Of Traumatised Adopted Teenagers Organisation) Group (many SG&AT members are also members of POTATO), responded to Pernille as follows:
“Says what it needs to say Very very insightful AND A MUST READ for all social workers, their managers and government.
This is the experience of over 300 members of a peer to peer support group in the UK. We are called Parents of traumatised adopted teens organisation (the Potato group). We would love to publish your article on our website as it resonates with us and our experiences (which is not always the case with American articles). Please feel free to email us at Parentingadoptedteens@gmail.com if that is ok.
If any adopters from the UK read your article and wish they could have support to deal with this sort of behaviour from social workers, please make contact with us or visit our website for more info about who we are and what we are trying to achieve Parentingadoptedteens.org.uk.”
If you are experiencing difficulties to receive the understanding and support you need from agencies and services we strongly recommend you get good peer support. Only someone with lived experience can help in this situation – as services under pressure will be looking to save money, which leads to decisions being made that can make life very hard for those caring for and parenting some of the UK’s most vulnerable children – and increase the risks for us and our children of things reaching crisis point, and beyond.
After so much hard work has gone into creating your family and trying to build a relationship with your children, it is soul destroying to see relationships being unwittingly destroyed by the very people who should be supporting you and your child come together, and helping you overcome the legacy of their difficult past – and being lambasted with deeply personal criticism at the same time.
We are supporting a Petition to Government and ask that you consider signing this petition to help adoptive and special guardianship families remain together – even when they must live apart. Please click this link here to go to the petition