Ask the 8 year old.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had been processed and passed by the adoption panel for two children and as first time parents we really hadn’t even consider taking on any more. We originally saw the details of our sons – where it was stipulated that they had to be placed together – with no reference to other siblings.

Of course when their full CPR came through their siblings and half siblings were included, as indeed were details of the close relationship the boys had with their older sister. It was explained to us that as they had not found an adoptive placement for the three together, the sister had been asked if she would like to stay with the foster parents in long term fostering, freeing up her brothers for adoption together.

She was just 8 at the time and she was being asked if she wanted to stay in the home she had known for – at that point – over 2 yrs with people who cared for her and offered her the only real security she had ever really known – at the expense of staying with her brothers. Or to continue to wait for… well, the totally unknown.

She obviously chose to stay.

Good news for social services, who’s life just got a lot easier as placing a 4 and 5 yr old together – although not easy – is a whole lot easier than when there is a third aged 8.

Good news for the boys as it gave then a better chance of finding a forever family,

And of course good news for us.

It seems the only one with not such good news is the 8yr old who’s decision made it all possible. She will never be adopted and technically at 18 (although at the time it was still 16) be ‘family less’.

The foster parents were caring, but quite elderly (60&70) and very old school, they were very strict and although great for short term fostering they seemed to have little understanding of the ‘pastoral’ care looked after children so require.

We were aware of this and if I am to be brutally honest I have to admit that we chose to ignore it. We had already been building an attachment to our future sons and didn’t want to complicate matters, anyway surely Social services knows what’s best.

Also, if we decided not to proceed because of the sister, that would not result in the three being kept together, but in social services finding other parents for the boys. The boys who were already starting to feel like our sons.

Regular contact between the three and also their baby sister – born after they had all been taken into Care – was arranged twice yearly with both sisters and their families. It was tough at first for our boys, but it did mean we maintained contact with their foster carers who they were very attached to.

Although not perfect, all was fine until 2 yrs later when the foster parents declare that they are giving up the sister because ‘she has become too much to deal with’. They site various episodes, but basically it boils down to an understandably troubled 12 year old defying their ultra strict regime.

We are angry. Angry at social services for not addressing what was clearly a problematic situation before the inevitable, angry at the foster parents for not respecting the commitment they made and angry at ourselves for sitting back doing nothing while it suited us and also now, not being able to take on the older sister because we just don’t feel ready or able.

In addition we are angry for all the children, the sister for the horribly raw deal she got and for our sons and their baby sister who experience yet another family breakdown.

The sister has now been moved to another long term placement and is apparently settling. There has been no contact now for almost a year and the boys are missing her terribly, it should resume soon.

We have said that we want more contact and that we want to take the sister away with us when we holiday, but we have no legal connection with her and social services have no reason to acknowledge us – and they don’t. They have ignored our letters of complaint and so far our requests to be involved in the child’s life.

To us that is a mystery, but no doubt they have their reasons.

Let’s just hope the new long term foster placement the sister in now in will prove to be the happy home she so deserves

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6 thoughts on “Ask the 8 year old.

  1. This is such a sad story, and makes me angry too. But she does have you fighting for contact, and that will mean a lot to her. Does she still have a guardian or IRO? They may listen to you where social services are not. Take care.

  2. Oh so sad. My son is 8, and lacks any emotional maturity or proper full understanding of permanence, time or social care. There is no way I’d ever expect him to make such a decision whilst understanding all the ramifications of it. What an awful position for her to ever be in. I do hope they listen to you and contact is restarted, continued and supported.

    Thanks for linking to #WASO

  3. I know that children’s wishes are important and should not be ignored but it is hard to imagine a scenario here where that little girl was not expressing her opinions under duress from all sides – fear of the unknown, guilt about her brothers, weight of expectation, etc. etc. Life in long-term foster care can be terribly unstable – surely there is no way that, at such a young age, a child could be expected to understand the implications of their ‘choice’.

  4. It makes my blood boil that an adoptive family is wanting direct contact with a sibling and this is being denied without a good reason. I think we are all in a steep learning curve regarding adoption and are woefully underprepared for issues around contact at the point of adoption. You are understandably starting to question more things as your awareness of the deeper issues within adoption are raising their heads. You couldn’t have known that back then. I feel for you because it’s an unresolved issue that has far reaching effects into your family unit and that of the sister. I hope a resolution is found and that the sister is in a supportive environment now. Xx

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