Do we have to abide by what the judge said? help please!

(42 Posts)
Bananaketchup Tue 09-Jul-13 18:35:50

Hi all,
big day today, placement orders made so all systems go. Instead of being excited, I am freaked out! SW emailed that 'the judge's view is that DD should start school in September in Bananatown so that there is as little disruption as possible in her routines'. This was followed by me being copied into fairly frantic-sounding emails between SWs saying we need to have a meeting quick, prioritise the case because of the school issue, get to panel 1st week in August, speak to the panel advisor to see if we can get an early decision etc etc etc.

Right from the beginning I was told SWs think DD should delay starting school until January, to allow us to bond, and I agree with this. More importantly, DD has only recently been told she will not be returning to BM who she is very defensive of and attached to and who she states she wants to live with. The plan was for her to have CAMHS assessment and some lifestory work to get her ready to move, and it was emphasised even before we were linked that I'd have to be willing to go at DDs pace, which of course I am. Now suddenly a judge has an opinion and all of that sensible stuff seems to have gone out of the window and they're all running around going 'okay, panel in 2 weeks, move her, start school in September'!

I am freaking out. I feel like if DD is moved so quickly, before the lifestory work, and then made to start school very shortly after, we are going to have massive massive problems. I feel like we are being set up to fail, DD's not ready to move to her new family, she's not ready to start school straight away, I'm scared it'll go so badly.

What can I do? Do SWs have to abide by the judge's opinion in this? And by extension, do I as they still will have PR? Should I voice my concerns now, should I conveniently have a holiday booked for the August panel date? All the information I know about DD screams at me this will be bad but now all the SWs seem to be concerned about is getting it done asap with no concern for the stuff which previously was important. I don't agree that starting school in September will cause as little disruption as possible, this little girl is about to be removed from everything and everyone she has ever known, I think that's a bit more important and a bit more disruptive than not starting school the first week in September!! Can anyone advise me what to do?

Piffyonarock Tue 09-Jul-13 19:25:19

Par for the chuffing course. We had a similar run with our DD - oh, Mr and Mrs Piffy, you must come on our second time adopters training its VITAL, DS and DD must have work prior to the move to prepare them, we must avoid their birthdays, all of which we were keen to do. Then all of a sudden it was "Let's move her on this date", we said no, it's DSs birthday the day after, so they pressed on and she moved about two days after that, no prep or anything and our intros started on the day of the training for us so we missed that too. We still sometimes say that if the move had been better managed it might have saved everyone some heartache.

I'd keep fighting for what you think is right for you and DD, but be prepared for it not going how you think it should. In our case it seemed that nothing we could say would get them to budge once they decided that intros were starting.

This sort of carry on is, in my opinion, responsible for a lot of avoidable problems.

Could you speak to school and see if they'd be willing to let her do some visits with you or something rather than her actually starting full time? I think you are right in what you're saying, its going to be too much of a rush for her.

I'm sorry, I've not got any thing more positive to suggest, but hopefully someone else might. Keep your chin up, you sound lovely.

alcibiades Tue 09-Jul-13 20:46:28

My apologies for intruding. The very little I know about adoption is gleaned from occasionally reading threads here, and from reading judgments on the Family Law website relating to care proceedings (or whatever the technical term is).

I get the impression from reading those judgments that the judges are usually pretty clued up on the effect on children being removed from their birth families and the subsequent transition to their permanent families. So, I'm surprised (and shocked) that the judge's view is for everything to move so fast.

I'm wondering whether the SWs have got the wrong end of the stick, but I guess it's difficult to challenge that.

Bananaketchup Tue 09-Jul-13 21:48:59

Piffy I think school would probably be on board with building up from little as they seem good. I'm really most worried about her moving home so soon. I forgot to say in my OP she is having 2 hours 3 times a week contact with BM, up til now SWs said they wouldn't reduce it til placement order - now I guess it's going to go from 6 hours a week to nothing in a few weeks?? I'm really scared we are going to have a really tough time because of this rush.

acibiades it's not an intrusion. SW has given me the info re what the judge said exactly as I've posted it in my OP, after that it was all emails amongst themselves saying 'we have to prioritise this case because of the school issue, move move move'. I am also shocked, I was not prepared for this. I was prepared for a few delays, therapy not being teed up speedily etc - I wasn't prepared for them to throw all of those plans out of the window and just crack on like none of that stuff matters!

I can see for an ordinary child you might think it's very important for them to start school on time, with the other kids etc etc. I can't see how a judge can think this is in the best interests of this child, in these circumstances. Incidentally I live in another county from the LA and DD is in a private foster placement right over the other side of the next county, a good 1 1/2 hours from here - so there's no way anyone's thinking she can start her school here and still live in FC for a bit, or anything like that. I'm seriously considering having a holiday booked for the August panel date. That'd mean September panel - and maybe the 'start school with everyone else' ship would have sailed? I'm scared they'd call my bluff though. I don't know what to do. Thanks for replies.

happydazed Tue 09-Jul-13 21:52:41

my only positive thought is that most children will start September and she might find it harder to make friends and feel part of her class if she starts in Jan when most friendships are already formed. see your point though, hope it all works out ok.

Is your dd going to be 5 before school starts? If not I think she is legally not olbiged to go to school and not full time until she turns 5.

I think you are right in your thoughts. If they won't change their mind will you still go ahead with adoption? If you do can you make the best of it, maybe keeping social workers abreast of sitiation and if school is very stressful then plead for her not to go or not to go full time? If she is very stressed about school and losing bm, might in some ways that make you the person she turns to?

I am not an adopter yet so no idea and agree totally your thoughts seem right but am just asking if this has to be the way, can you work around it? Is your social worker someone you can talk to about all this?

The only benefit I would say about starting school with the others (and again, I agree with you about that) is that the other kids will also be upskittled, upset, clingey and will probably not be expected to do much. If she joins later the other kids may have worked out some of the kinks.

Anyway, I think if you can't change it then how can you work it the best way for you? Is it a small school, can you talk to teachers and explain. Could you go in and help in school a bit, or would that be worse you really do need an experts opinion on this!

Please keep us posted.

Lilka Tue 09-Jul-13 22:10:50

I completely agree with you Banana

Given what you've said, with her having 3 contact sessions a week and being very attached to her mother etc, it sounds insane to me to try and move her so quickly. IMHO there won't even be a benefit to her starting school in September because she'll be struggling so much with everything that's happened in the last few weeks.

If I were you, I would try everything to stall and state your serious concerns about whether the adoption would actually be successful without serious preparation. Push for the therapy and slow transition with January school start. Your DD needs her contact to be scaled down slowly alongside having therapeutic work before the idea of an in-the-flesh new mum is introduced. I agree with you that you are likely to have real serious problems if this doesn't happen. I've seen several disruptions of older children, and lack of preparation on the childs end was a contributing factor in more than one place.

Is the Judge even going to be involved from now? The PO hearing is the last court hearing before the directions hearing once you apply for the adoption order, so it's not like Judge would even be aware of what SS are doing surely?

Piffyonarock Wed 10-Jul-13 00:08:20

Do you know, I've been mulling this over and I think Lilka is right, I'm not sure that the Judge would know what was happening and circumstances must alter in a lot of cases anyway. SS might have to make moves to place her if the judge has given a date, but they still can't place her until its been to panel - even with all the hoohah they might not actually get you into the August panel anyway. Our LA only has one panel date per month so they are pretty busy. If you can stall and press for the prep work you've mentioned it would be better all round, the new plan sounds utter madness. Try to keep as calm as you can and be firm.

Bananaketchup Wed 10-Jul-13 08:00:17

I think I haven't put across my worries very well. I am worried about her starting school too early, but what I'm most worried about it that by trying to get her moved in order to start school in September, they are going to move her to me too soon. I know it'd be nice for her to start school with the other kids in her year etc, but moving too quickly is far far more important than what she'd gain from starting school on time.

Italian DD will be 5 in September, so what I've understood from my previous threads re school is that she legally has to start education the following term from her birthday, ie January. Which is what was planned. I don't want to pull out of the placement if they insist on moving her so soon, I really really don't. I don't know what I'll do to be honest.

Lilka You're right it is insane. What you have written is exactly what I'm scared about, that the adoption may not be successful without the preparation DD needs.

You're both right as well, how will the judge know from now on anyway? I don't understand why the SWs are now running around like what the judge said is law. Why am I the only one trying to advocate for what is best for DD? Part of why I'm so shaken is that they appear to have dropped all the careful plans for DD's best interests without a second thought. I'm scared of being railroaded into doing something I don't think is right, and I'm scared of getting to a point of saying I won't proceed cos I really want to and I think we could work as a family, if we have the right support.

Thanks all for replies, I appreciate your support.

fasparent Wed 10-Jul-13 11:53:53

Must put what you think is in the childs interest 1st., Visit school explain
your position in full, including all support ask what support school has too offer, and your feeling regards best time you think would be appropriate too start school, These are BIG change's and adjustment's school would I feel be supportive. Once Adoption is approved you are the parent and can move schools if you wish.
Your child will be starting at the agreed time but with Local Education Authority agreement should be able too actual negotiate a actual start time due too your circumstance's.

Banana I think you absolitely conveyed all your feelings and concerns correctly. I one hundred percent get where you are coming from and I completely agree with you.

What I do not know (and I am not yet an adopter) is what will happen if you book a holiday on the panel date or make a 'fuss' or try and change the plans back to what they were originally going to be. I have no idea at all if this would jepodise the placement etc.

I was trying to point out some small compensations of your DD starting with her peers. I totally agree with you that the most important thing is for her to gently be removed from contact with BM and gently introduced into your family and for her to start school later. I totally agree that the best thing is for her to do this as per the original plan and that attachment with you is the number 1 thing above all others is this area.

I just have no idea how you can achieve this and no idea how important the judges decision is in all this.

I did not want to read and not reply and I can't really advise, I just wanted to say that there may be some small compensations with this plan. I also wonder (again no idea if this is the case) whether your helping at school may be of use to her and you and also whether if things go badly at the start of school you can opt to take her out. As far as I know children are not legally obligated to be educated in school. They can be home schooled. My friend home schools her son. I am not a fan of home schooling necessarily but for some families and in some situations it works. Whether home schooling for 6 months would be an option I don't know. I am nervous to say anything that might jepodise the placement because I know so little, but I do totally get what you are talking about.

pS I know of you did do some form of home schooling you would still have the problem with them moving her and her losing instant contact with BM but if they knew and agreed to you home schooling there would be no deadline to stick to. But it is a huge if and I think you need one of the social workers on your side and on DD's side.

floatyjosmum Wed 10-Jul-13 21:45:15

Judges like to do more than make an order! They sometimes ask for things to be considered or discussed etc however if it isn't in the order then it doesn't HAVE to happen.

It may be that he meant he didn't want it to be school near foster carers in September and then another move Etc.

Bananaketchup Wed 10-Jul-13 22:19:36

Update - there's no update. No emails today (or none which I have been copied into), and no reply to the email I sent to my SW asking her to please clarify what is happening as I thought DD needed CAMHS and lifestory work before placement?

floaty I hadn't considered that, and maybe you're right, the judge meant don't start her in school in FC then move her shortly after. I guess we won't know now?

Italian you're right I need a SW on my side, I don't feel I have one - my SW, the team leader and the children's SW were the ones sending emails back and forth to each other about rushing things through. The family finder is on holiday, maybe she will come back in another week and be the voice of sanity? Also I am due to meet the FC next week, maybe she will have a view this is too quick for DD? I'd really like someone else on board.

Thank you all for your suggestions and support, it is helping me to feel I'm not being stupid to be so worried about what's happening. When all the professionals in the case start running in the opposite direction of travel to me, I start thinking I'm the one out of touch with what's sensible. You've helped me feel that's not so, so thank you.

KristinaM Wed 10-Jul-13 23:08:00

I agree with everything that lilka says. TBH I am far more worried about the attachment to BM and the frequent contact than the school issue. She needs time and therapeutic help to deal with this loss.

floatyjosmum Thu 11-Jul-13 21:33:03

As part of the care plan that the judge has agreed it should mention how they are going to reduce contact.
Usually if it 3 x a week it would go to 2 for 1/2 weeks, then once a week, then to fortnightly then monthly. The quickest I've stopped contact is in 2 months with a gap of nearly2 months before moving to adoptive placement.

Bananaketchup Fri 12-Jul-13 09:58:20

floaty when all the SWs visited to consider me for the match the children's SW described that kind of reduction of the contact. I need to remind them of that don't I? If the plan for reducing contact was part of the court paperwork, I haven't seen that but I'm guessing it would have been set out as they'd described it to me? That's really useful to know, thank you.

Bananaketchup Fri 12-Jul-13 18:40:11

Got a reply from my SW, she ignored my questions re lifestory work and CAMHS and said this: 'We are doing a matching meeting next week, we will look into this more closely and keep you in the loop.' Why do they need a matching meeting, I've been told I'm the match? Really confused, and worried that me saying 'hang on a minute what about all this stuff?' is making them think again about the match. From the paperwork for matching panel I know they didn't consider any other families just me. I have no idea what's going on.

fasparent Fri 12-Jul-13 23:18:58

Afraid you will have too go with the flow at this stage eat humble pie, keeping all your concerns private , there may be many things regards child you are not privy too at this stage these will be made more clear as
process evolves, main thing is matching in the child's best interest.
We have been foster parents for 38 years have seen many children placed, some with multiple choice matches, have seen academics refused, all including us have too be none judgmental in this process , at times we wish there were a better process but the best interest of the child comes 1st as they say its for a for ever family.

Lilka Sat 13-Jul-13 12:24:57

I think they always have a matching meeting to make sure all the SW's are on board before proceeding

I disagree that Banana should keep her concerns private. Adoptive parents advocate for their children's best interests, and it's not in a childs best interests to have their contact with their mother (who they love very much) cut, a new adoptive parent introduced and a move in the space of a few weeks. It's insane. That way serious problems probably lie.

By all means let them have a meeting and let them decide that you are the match they want first, and then keep raising your concerns and tell them that you want therapeutic work before a move. Hopefully if they do look into it more closely someone is going to say 'such a quick move isn't really a good idea'. I hope that little sentence might mean sense will prevail.

Hayleyh34 Sat 13-Jul-13 12:30:23

Totally agree with Lilka. Our DD went on holiday a week before intros with her foster family. We felt this was a bad idea but didn't say anything. Now if we go on holiday she gets anxious when we come home and worries that she's getting a new family confused. Fight for what you think is right

Bananaketchup Sat 13-Jul-13 19:27:12

Lilka you have said what I want to, but eloquently! I am thinking about her best interests, and I don't want my strong desire to be her mum to let SWs railroad me into something which is going to have a world of fallout for us both. I really hope someone notices that what they're planning is insane.

I'm still confused about the matching meeting - I've been told I'm the match, all the matching forms are filled in, adoption allowance applied for, panel date set - why do they need a matching meeting at this point? Maybe it's a standard meeting before matching panel which could probably do with having a different name?

Hayley that is really sad. Thank you for your support.

Bananaketchup Tue 16-Jul-13 18:50:08

Further update - the family finder came back from holiday and sent an email to my SW, DDs SW, team leader and copying me in, and as I'd hoped was the voice of reason. She said they need to think carefully about timings of intros to be sure DD is in the right place to attach to me and that therapy needs to have started. She also said she still thinks Jan or at the most October is plenty of time to start school, so we have time together and that that is more important than school which DD will catch up with. Then my SW pitched in ignoring the therapy/attachment bit but saying she also thinks there are ground for delaying the school start. So I was pretty relieved!

Then just as I was starting to feel like things were looking up, the team leader emailed saying panel is booked, the decision maker has said the decision will be made 2 days later, so she wants intros to start the next day - i.e. in 4 weeks from now!

So I'm still pretty stressed, the team leader seems to be ignoring the reasons for going slower and just ploughing on. Upshot is they're all having this matching meeting this week and the team leader has put (very graciously I feel hmm) that my SW can update me what the plan for intros is afterwards. Urgh!

Some good news then. Hope it works out well.

Maiyakat Tue 16-Jul-13 21:32:50

I agree with Hayley - you need to fight for what you know is right. You need someone advocating for you in that meeting. Will the family finder be there? Can you speak to her beforehand? If not, can you write a statement of your concerns for your SW to take? At the end of the day it will be you and your daughter living with the consequences of these decisions, not the SWs or the judge.

Have you met the foster carer yet? What does she/he think?

Really hope you get the support you need

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