SGO or adoption?

Celle
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:26 pm

Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Sat Dec 06, 2014 9:02 pm

Thanks, Irene.

Guardians still communicate from time to time with CS in the county that dealt with F's SGO placement, as CS still supervise BM and plan to arrange for her to have contact with F one day. So far, BM has not been co-operative about contact and has not seen F since she was removed into foster care at 5 months old.

However, guardians live in a different county, so are wondering if their application to adopt should be made in the county they live in.

While birth mother now says she is willing to sign papers agreeing to adoption, she is volatile and could change her mind. This uncertainty is making guardians even more sure that adoption would be the most secure arrangement for F.

As well as F and her half-sister Z, BM also has a 14-year old son, who is under the guardianship of his paternal grandparents. All 3 children were permanently removed from her care by court orders. BM has never indicated that she wants her son back.and she has not had contact with him since just after F was born.

Two questions for David:
1. Would an application for adoption need to be accompanied by an application to rescind the SGO?
2. Guardians have found that foster parents can apply to adopt after the child has been with them for 3 months, but there does not appear to be any information readily available about the necessary time period for guardians. Does this mean that they would have to wait for the three years specified for other people who have a child living with them?

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Dec 08, 2014 2:04 pm

Dear Celle,
Unfortunately for us, David has moved to a new post and no longer works for Family Rights Group.

In answer to your questions, no- an application to rescind the Special Guardianship Order does not need to be made at the originating adoption application. If the court granted an adoption order, the Special Guardianship Order would automatically be rescinded when the order is made.

Yes there is a probationary period that a child must be with prospective adopters before the adoption application is made. The 12 week timescale (you refer to) applies when a child has been “placed” with prospective adopters by an adoption agency or if a parent is applying. So if an adoption agency places a child with foster carers-then the 12 weeks applies.

But in your family’s case, the special guardians are making a non agency adoption application. So you are right to say that the timescale would be for a child to live not less than 3 years with the applicants over a 5 year period.

However, the special guardians could always apply to the court for “leave” or permission to make the application before the 3 year period was up. The test they would have to show is whether the application has a “real prospect of success”.

The guardians also need to be mindful that they have to give notice of the application to the local authority where the child is living of not more than 2 years nor less than 3 months before the application is made.

I know that you are aware of the arguments about which order is better for F. A special guardianship order –where family links would not be broken is usually recommended in family placements instead of adoption.
However, you have mentioned some factors which would need more exploration- for example, the family trust fund that F would benefit from.

So I suggest that you do get more detailed advice about the adoption process. As a starting point, you could contact BAAF-Adoption and Fostering who have a lot of information about the process as well as an advice line you could contact.
Best wishes,
Suzie

Celle
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:26 pm

Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Wed Dec 10, 2014 4:50 am

Thank you for your prompt reply, Suzie.

Obviously, it's not going to be the easy process the entire family was hoping for!

I said the entire family, and that is what I meant - from guardians, to birth mother, to birth grandparents, to us, our daughter's family.

Adoption was what we all hoped for, rather than an SGO initially, but T&M were persuaded by CS that a SGO would be quicker, and therefore better in the short term, for F. At that time, F had been fostered for almost a year, they were led to believe that it would be easy to proceed to adoption later, and so they agreed to an application for SGO.

There is no question that family ties would be cut - it would be an open adoption as far as that goes - and our son-in-law is not a close relative, so family relationships would not be badly distorted by adoption. Birth mother would become an "auntie" to F, as her siblings are - and she has expressed a willingness for that.

Our daughter has dual nationality, having been born in New Zealand and gained citizenship to the UK by naturalisation. Were adoption to occur, F would also be entitled to NZ citizenship and right of abode in NZ. And, as I said, F could then become a beneficiary under our Family Trust, which option is not open to her while T&M are her guardians. We already consider F to be one of our grandchildren and would like the legal right for her to be treated as such, just like our other grandchildren.

Whatever the eventual outcome, F is much loved by all of us.

Celle
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:26 pm

Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:17 am

Just an update:

Our daughter and son in law have consulted their lawyer, who is on the Children's Panel. He says that there is no need for them to wait until F has been with them for 3 years (family adoption) before they can apply to adopt her.

Although our son in law is related to F, it is a distant relationship - he is first cousin to F's birth grandfather, so they are first cousins, twice removed.

Consequently, they have now notified the county where they live of their intent to adopt F, who was placed with them under an SGO by a different county.

They have had a phone interview and explained their reasons why they believe adoption would be a better option for F's best interests. As well as more security for F, there are some sound legal reasons why adoption would be better. Currently, F cannot be a beneficiary under our Family Trust, but she could be one as an adopted child. Also, like our daughter, she could benefit from having dual nationality, if she were adopted.
Birth mother wants her to be adopted and is currently willing to sign to that effect. She has had no contact, written or supervised, with F, since she was removed from her at 5 months old, and has failed to attend any meeting arranged to discuss contact.
Birth father is not named on her birth certificate and has never seen her, but is entitled to one catch-up letter a year.
Birth family relationships would not be skewed much and contact would still be maintained with F's birth grandparents and half sister.

They have explained that their preference all along was for adoption, rather than an SGO, for the reasons stated above, but that they were persuaded to agree to an SGO, as the process would allegedly be quicker and thus better for F at that time.

F is very settled and happy and has bonded well with our daughter and son in law as her parents. She's been with them for 16 months now.

The Children's Services supervisor with whom they spoke said that, given these reasons, she could not understand why adoption was not applied for initially.

They have their first home visit and interview tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

Celle
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:26 pm

Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Thu Jun 04, 2015 8:35 am

Thanks, Irene.
Good to see you're still around!

The home visit by the Children's Services officer went well. She was helpful, said she could see that F was happy and well, and gave them a lot of forms to fill in. She has told them what further information she will need (some of which they can email her, as they already have it to hand, having supplied it to the previous county during their assessment for SGO.)

They have to request a copy of their SGO assessment report from the previous county. They were not given it previously, as F's SGO case was linked with that of her half sister and there is some confidential information about the half sister's birth father in the report - that's what they were told, anyway.

There will be a lot of duplication in the process, as all the references, police checks, medicals etc have to be done again, even back to our daughter's police check back in her birth country in 1998, before she went to Germany as an au pair.

Celle
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:26 pm

Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:23 pm

Just an update:
My husband and I were asked to write a letter, saying whether or not we were in support of adoption, giving our reasons and commenting on our daughter and son-in-law's ability to handle stress, their parenting ability and various other things. We wrote, saying that we fully supported adoption and always had done. We pointed out that they had already coped successfully with considerable stress, in adapting, at relatively short notice, from being a working couple with no children, to being guardians of a 15-month old.

Our son-in-law's mother and F's birth grandparents have also all had to write in support of adoption. No problem, since they've all though from the outset that adoption was the best option for F.

The Children's Services worker paid a home visit to my daughter and the little one yesterday. She said that they have all the information they need now - all reports satisfactory - but they need to notify both birth parents. The birth parents don't need to respond - it just has to be shown that two attempts have been made to contact them.

Birth father is not named on the birth certificate and he has no parental or visitation rights. He allegedly said that he did not wish for any updates about F.
Apparently, there is DNA evidence who is F's birth father, but our daughter and son-in-law have not been given that information. They have asked for a copy of the DNA results - so that they can tell F, if she ever asks.

Birth mother still has not kept any appointments to discuss visitation - she has always been away from her accommodation at the appointment time. (F already knows that she grew in BM's tummy, but came to live with "Mummy and "Daddy" because BM was "sick". They had to tell her, preferring it to come from them, in case older half-sister spilled the beans.)


Unlike Children's Services in the county where F was placed under the SGO, Children's Services in the county where they live are supportive of the adoption. Our daughter was told that the court date for the adoption application should take place before Christmas.

By chance, our daughter turned on the TV the other morning and watched Parliament. They were debating possible changes to the Act that brought about SGOs. Apparently, there has been a large increase in the number of SGOs granted for children under one year old, while SGOs were originally designed for older children. MPs were saying that the Act needs to be amended to make this clear, and that, for younger children, adoption is still the better option.

Since F's SGO was granted when she was 15 months old, but the application was (belatedly) commenced when she was only 9 months old, it seems that adoption should have been the more appropriate order for her. F was taken into care at 5 months old, so her placement took 10 months, much longer than the recommenced 6 months.

Celle
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:26 pm

Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Sat Sep 19, 2015 4:45 am

My daughter and her husband were distant relatives who had never met F, and yet she was not placed with them until shortly before the SGO. I think they only had 3 contact visits in total before she was placed with them. My son in law is first cousin to F's birth grandfather, which makes F his first cousin twice removed - not a close relationship at all.

Our daughter and son in law were the last hopes of keeping F within the family, and they were the last people within the extended family to be contacted about taking care of F. All F's closer relatives were either unable to take her because of age (birth grandparents) or did not want anything to do with F's BM and her lifestyle (her BM's siblings)

F would have been adopted outside the family, if my daughter and son in law had not felt able to take her. The rest of the family all felt that adoption would give F "a clean start". While they are pleased that contact with the family has been resumed for F, they still feel that adoption, rather than SGO, would have been more appropriate.

Since F was placed under SGO, support from Children's Services in the county that placed her has been minimal. There has been no contact inquiring about F's welfare. It has been a considerable cost for them to take F - as well as buying all the nursery stuff needed, they have had to buy a larger house and a second car and my daughter has had to reduce her work hours (and thus her income). CS has only paid a minimal amount towards F's daycare, and this payment ceased after one year.

It will be a relief for the whole family if adoption could be granted.

Celle
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:26 pm

Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Sat Sep 19, 2015 9:47 pm

In spite of the bad start, she's really a lucky little girl now.
She's very much loved by our daughter and son in law, she has occasional contact with her half sister, she has 3 grandmothers and two grandfathers, who all love her. She has aunts and uncles on both sides of the family, and several new cousins.

Until now, F has been quite happy to know that she has a sister, who lives with Nanny L and Gramps, and that she grew in BM's tummy, but came to live with Mummy and Daddy because BM was sick.

However, she has been a bit unsettled by the visits from the CS worker, who said a few things in front of her that were probably better not heard by her - particularly about her birth father. Until now, he hadn't been mentioned to her. How do you tell a little child that her birth father was almost (not literally) just a sperm donor and that he doesn't want to know anything about her? She also doesn't know that she has a 14-year old half brother, who lives with his paternal grandparents, and who has very little contact with his BM's family.

Although she doesn't say anything at the time, she takes in everything that is said. She's been waking at night, wanting reassuring cuddles.

It would be good for everyone if this can be settled once and for all.

Celle
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:26 pm

Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:30 pm

Thanks, Irene!
Yes, her guardians have been blessed by taking F. They are head over heels in love with her, even on her bad days.

Celle
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:26 pm

Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:08 pm

Just a quick update:
All the checks necessary for adoption have been completed satisfactorily.

Birth grandparents and SGO grandparents have all been asked to write, to say we support adoption - done, and we all do support adoption. Everyone except CS wanted adoption from the start, but were persuaded to accept SGO, as it would get F out of fostering and into a permanent home more quickly.

Birth father has been contacted by CS and not responded. (He's not on the birth certificate, has never accepted any responsibility, and has no wish to hear about his daughter. Paternity was only established by DNA swabs.)

Birth mother has not responded to CS, but has indicated by phone to her own mother that she is willing to sign, giving consent to adoption. However, she's fickle, never keeps appointments, and has not taken action yet. It could be a long wait!

CS have told our daughter and son-in-law that BM's response to them, or her consent to adoption, is the only thing outstanding.

Our daughter and s-i-l would like things settled, but they are prepared to wait. Their deadline is to have the matter settled before it is time to enroll F for school. As F has only just turned three, they have time in hand.

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