Dear Mr Timpson

We currently have a special Weekly Adoption Shout Out Collective Response available here, to give an opportunity for feedback about National Adoption Week, and the recent letter to adopters from Mr Edward Timpson MP.

Today we bring you a post from the father in law of one of our favourite bloggers 3 Pink Diamonds, and we’ll be linking up his response in the #WASO special. The linky will be live until tomorrow, so you still have time to add your own responses – we’re happy to publish them on here if you don’t have your own blog to do so…

“These are thoughts that I have arrived at since my experience concerning my son and his wife’s adoption of their 3 daughters aged 2,4 and 6 about 18 months ago.
As a result of this experience, I am feeling angry and concerned about the very poor way in which the whole process has been handled by the relevant bodies involved and the overall lack of care and common sense from a service which is supposed to be concerned with the welfare of the children. Given a similar situation – on another day, I can imagine tragic newspaper headlines which express concern, public inquiries and ‘lessons to be learned’ (again!).

The following comments should not be dismissed as irrelevant because they are with the benefit of hindsight and therefore less meaningful – they are objective, plain common sense and are things that ought to have been obvious in general principle and certainly such considering that those responsible for adoptions must have encountered previously to varying degrees.

A brief internet search reveals a worryingly high percentage of failures in adoption cases and surely the practices currently employed need to be questioned and altered, especially with the current initiatives to promote adoptions. If our experience and thoughts were made public then it would not be helpful – especially if speculation was made as to possible realistic outcomes in such cases.

As the nominated main support for my son and his wife (and practically speaking, the only people living near to them), we have been vital in the process to date. Because we are sensible and caring, we have taken this role seriously and this has been at personal cost, much of it preventable!

Initially we filled out a form and were ‘interviewed’ by a Social Worker at our home – and also voluntarily attended a group meeting (that in reality served little purpose).
Other than that – apart from a desperate request from my wife to meet up with the main Social Worker in the case whilst I was abroad, we have been woefully neglected.
I would have expected as a matter of routine some visits to see how WE were coping, enquiries to see if WE had any concerns or needs, certainly some sort of general welfare concern for US!
I recently arrived at the family home whilst their Social Worker was there. I didn’t realise who she was but soon guessed. I said ‘Hello’ to her but didn’t want to interrupt anything – she only replied ‘Hello’ and said no more. As soon as I left, it occurred to me that she had never met me before, was fully appraised of the situations, concerns and problems and didn’t have the courtesy or initiative to actually introduce herself properly to me or even think to suggest a further visit to me and my wife. Was this just an oversight (not later realised?!), discourtesy, immaturity, or just plain ignorance?

Unfortunately the overall situation has played no small part in adversely affecting my wife’s health directly leading to an emergency situation and for which she is now receiving ongoing emergencymedical treatment.
In addition to this, the strain on my son and his wife has been immense and seems possibly to be the cause of a recent seizure (stress induced?) which has resulted in her having to surrender her driver’s licence and this will seriously adversely affect their income until she is able to reapply for it.

So, what in my opinion has been wrong?
What might be done better?
Will there be any changes as a result?

Firstly it is important to emphasise that, from this side of the adoption, this is not about money. If it were then they wouldn’t have chosen to adopt. That said, the skeptic in me asks ‘How much was it costing Social Services to keep the 3 girls in foster care each week/month – and did this play any part in the subsequent process to place them as soon as possible as adoptees with their new family who, for the right reasons wanted to give them a forever home?’.
This ‘subsequent process’ meant that the girls were told that they were going to their ‘forever home’ with their ‘forever Mummy and Daddy’ at the time of their move. What later horrified us was to learn that almost a year later, just prior to (and in fact it delayed the matter) the formalisation of the adoptions, we were all told that the natural father had lodged an appeal (within the timescale) and that there was a possibility that the girls might be returned to him (or his family)!!!
The impact was devastating – and had the appeal gone through – what effect would this have had on the girls? It seems to me that there has been a gross error and mishandling by Social Services.
It begged the question as to why matters had not been handled differently in these circumstance and in my opinion I suspect that money played its part.

Given the situation of a young couple with no children of their own, seemingly well suited to the girls in question and with the best part of a year to go before they are officially ‘adoptable’ – it would have been more sensible and honest to not tell the girls anything about a ‘forever’ situation until the time had actually arrived (ie after the final appeal) and to have them foster them in the first instance with a view to their adoption. This way we would have all been kept fully in the picture, proper suitability and monitoring ought to have taken place for everyone’s benefit, and the girls would not have been in a possible false position in their minds.
This would have obviously been a further foster carer cost to Social Services – but what cost is the correct outcome?

Having the 3 girls has indeed had its difficulties (they are a delight) – but initially my son and his wife were canvassed to actually have 4 (there are other siblings) and indeed they felt almost as though they ought to(!!!). The irresponsibility of that staggered us at the time and even more so now.

So, the current situation is fragile but not irretrievable, and what might be done to assist it?
MoneyI can only think that financial input from Social Services is a large part towards the answer (this will not be anything like the thousands saved by them with the hasty removal of them from foster care). Further finance is something that certainly needs to be a matter for discussion – even if it is not normal procedure (‘normal procedure’ helped create this ‘un-normal’ situation) and a failure at this point would undoubtedly be very costly to them.

For the future – well right from the start, the ‘experts’ realised some mistakes and changed policy regarding certain practices concerning bonding, which amazed me – as a first-timer it seemed obviously wrong to me from the start. The whole adoption procedure needs to be thoroughly revisited and should be an ever-evolving thing so that even if it is with hindsight, real lessons are learned and applied and ‘policies’ are not prohibitive to Common Sense’. I am very angry – but it is also objective anger and therefore of some use and my thoughts from a practical perspective are on offer.”

One thought on “Dear Mr Timpson

  1. debbie

    As a parent at the point of a potentail breakdown after 8 years (she was 3 at point of placement) i completely agree wholeheartedly with your comments. Support is non existent until you are at the breaking point, i mean god forbid they should have to fork out for a bit of respite care to give you a much needed break (even though we offered to pay). We told them something wasnt quite right within weeks of our daughter being placed. We were told a myriad of things from we were looking for something to be wrong with her, she needs more time to settle in, to the blinder one of “its because you already have a child with issues your looking for something to be wrong with her ” (we have a birth son with higher functioning autism who i have to say it an absolute credit to society, working and functioning as you would expect a 19 year old to. So after many domestic arguments we sat back after the many appointments including one with an adoption so called specialist doctor who thought it was wonderfull she could jump off 3 steps, beggars belief, we sat back and she started school. Foundation year went quite well as adoption support said it would but 3 weeks into year one we were pulled over. She wasnt making appropriate friendships, wasnt picking up social cues, behaviour odd etc etc. So at the grand age of 7 she was diagnosed with Disorganised Attachment Disorder and we were literally left to go home and deal with it. She did go to CAMHS for a year before she was dumped literally as the therapist went off long term sick and is back there now, for a significant length of time we have been told. All for what? When she was placed with white foster carers in the middle of the night, her birth mother being black, when she awoke she never cried and never did, never asked for mum at all and no-one thought it was strange???????? even the social worker thought it was wonderfull. We never got this information until after she was placed and in hindsight should never have gone to court knowing it. Perhaps we thought love, nurturing and giving her all the support she needed would be enough, not if attachment isnt there it means nothing. So we are living in house of tinder, just started secondary school and her hellbent on splitting the whole family up (she wants me to herself and has made that clear allthough not in a bonded love sense, more attention and more of her own way she thinks if shes on her own) living one day at a time and constantly throwing water over tense situations, its exausting. My health has deteriorated significantly in the last year, stress the doctor said and i spent 3 days crying at 1 point. My husband is a rock and i could never get up knowing he wasnt there. We have no family support, too many of their own issues and realising hers, keeping well out of the way. Our social worker stated recently we should never have been approved through lack of support network, never occurred to her the lack is because our daughter has driven everyone away! So what would have been the ideal answer/family for our daughter, no-one knows, will we last? being a glass half full lady i would like to say yes but after 8.5 years when do you say enough? we cant go on. We have no doubt if she is placed in foster care she wont take a second look back as long as shes getting what she wants which is soul destroying. But…. at a crucial point neurologically in the brain our one last hope is therapy, input from school, we might make some headway emotionally or for her to at least be able to partially see what she has to do to form relationships with people men and women, if not the future looks awfull for her.
    Questions have to be asked about what experience adotpion social workers have?? not to recognise blatant lack of attachment is scary and in our case at times down right dangerous. I sincerely hope you and your family get the support and help you need that we didnt. Shout, scream, go the the press if you have to, dont be silent, i see it all too much families that are struggling so much and no-one there to help or even interested until it reaches breaking point then they panic.
    You say the children are a delight, wonderfull news to hear and your son and daughter in law are very lucky to have you.
    Have a happy christmas xx


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