SGO / Adoption HELP!!

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mrsmoose
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:21 pm

SGO / Adoption HELP!!

Post by mrsmoose » Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:56 pm

Hi everyone. I'm new here, so this is my first post, but I am desperately after some advise.
My husband and I are Family & friends carers for my great niece, (my nephew's daughter) she has been with us for two years on 25th of this month. She is type 1 diabetic, so her health needs are great, but since being with us, she is living a normal life and her blood sugars have been really stable. We live 150 miles away from the rest of the family.

She is absolutely wonderful and the placement was amazing right form the start, she settled in with us straight away, as though she had always been here, despite only spending two weeks 'getting to know' her. (We hadn't met her before then). She came to us 2 weeks before her 2nd Birthday, and she started to call us Mummy & Daddy after the first month.

We went into this with the view that we would be going for SGO, but on our first LAC review the chairwoman asked us if we had ever considered adoption, which up until then we hadn't. We started looking into it and had advise from SW's and even our own independent legal advise, and since our 2nd LAC review the idea has been for adoption, from everybody's point of view.
Birth Dad has no contact and birth Mum has contact for 2 hours, three times a year. At Mum's contact there is no interaction at all, we are constantly encouraging her to play with the little one, but there is nothing there at all. Whilst this doesn't harm the little one at all, she doesn't get anything out of it either, and doesn't know who birth mum is. Birth dad is apparently not opposed to the adoption, but BM is.
There has been delay after delay in getting things sorted from SS side, not from ours, we have done everything asked of us, and more! We were told originally everything would be sorted within 18 months of her coming to us, we are now two years on and still no further forward!
It has been agreed that SS would apply for the adoption for us. The application for the placement order went in at the end of Feb and we were told there would be a decision from the Agency decision maker within 10 days, 5 weeks later we were told that the decision maker was on leave so it had been passed to the after adoption team leader, who made the decision that he couldn't recommend adoption at this time! So our little ones SW's manager called an emergency meeting with our SW, little ones SW, all managers, independent SW, LAC reviewing chairperson and county managers, who all agreed that adoption is the best thing for her! I have no idea what is happening now, we have our next LAC review on 9th of this month and apparently they will have the plan of what happens next for us? They were apparently all getting independent legal advise to see if we can still go for adoption.

On top of all that we have had no consistency with anyone involved so we have had to keep starting all over again trying to explain everything that has happened in the last 2 years! SS have even admitted that all the delay and the problems have come from them and we were even told by SW manager that we could put in a complaint (this was over 8 months ago) but we said we didn't think it would help us, we just wanted things sorted, as she had apologised about what had happened and promised that everything would be sorted, but still we are no further forward.
There are loads of other things, but I think this is long enough for my first post!!
Any advise gratefully appreciated, we desperately want this sorted, so the three of us can get on with our lives together.

mrsmoose
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:21 pm

Re: SGO / Adoption HELP!!

Post by mrsmoose » Thu Apr 02, 2015 6:23 pm

Thanks for the reply. We were told that because we were not immediate family we would be able to adopt, it's not close enough for mum to become sister for example. And she still know's everything and where she stands in our family (before and after if you know what I mean!) In our case grandparents are still grandparents and aunties and uncles are still the same, apart form me of course. Skewing of family relationships with BM side doesn't make any difference because we aren't related anyway.
I just find it so twisted and confusing that it was SS that first told us to go for adoption, when we were originally happy with SGO, now that we have built our hopes, and little ones hopes around adoption, it seems that it may not happen, even though all SW's involved (and there are many of them!!) all think it is in her best interest?

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 533
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: SGO / Adoption HELP!!

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Apr 08, 2015 3:59 pm

Dear mrsmoose

Welcome to Family Rights Group Family and Friend Carers’ Discussion Forum.

My name is Suzie and I am an Adviser at Family Rights Group.

I am sorry that you have been having such a frustrating time dealing with Children Services about the long term plans for your great niece.

It is great that she has settled so well with you and the placement is has been a success. You have had some good peer advice about Adoption/Special Guardianship Order. As ied53 has stated, the court may be reluctant to make an adoption order. The decision maker has not recommended adoption. Do you know why Children Services or the Chair wanted to move away from the SGO that you agreed to at the beginning?

Your great niece has health needs which, though being managed at present could change later, if you had a Special Guardianship Order you would be entitled to a support package for her which could be up to the age of 18 depending on her particular needs. As an adoptive parent this would not be available although you would like any other parent be able to request support from Children Services.

You say that you have been waiting a long time for a final resolution of the situation. Your great niece is settled with you and with a Special Guardianship Order she would have the security of a permanent home with you. You will be able to make all decisions for her upbringing and although her birth parents would retain parental responsibility (which they would not in adoption), you would exercise parental responsibility to the exclusion of theirs. I have included a copy of our advice sheet relating to special guardianship relating to birth parents for your information.

I note that you decided against making a formal complaint but you may wish to reconsider since the situation is still ongoing with nothing really resolved. A copy of our advice sheet about making a complaint is here for your information should you decide to make a formal complaint.

It is obviously for you to decide whether adoption is most appropriate for you and your great niece and I hope the information provided will be helpful to you.

Should you wish to speak to an Adviser at Family Rights Group, feel free to telephone our advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open from 9.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Best wishes,

Suzie

mrsmoose
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:21 pm

Re: SGO / Adoption HELP!!

Post by mrsmoose » Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:03 pm

Hi, thanks for the replies. I met with little ones SW's today (the old and the new one that is just taking over) and apparently the decision maker had said that although he wouldn't recommend adoption at this time that they should call an emergency meeting for all SW's involved and if the outcome of that meeting was that they all agreed that adoption was in her best interests then he would back it and they should take it to court. They have also spoken to their legal team and they have said take it to court too, they think that we should get an idea very quickly of which way the court will decide, as they don't want any more delay in getting things sorted.
I'm not really sure why originally adoption was mentioned, but they just thought it would give her more stability and security for her future.
We have our LAC review tomorrow so I will find out more then..........I'll let you know how it goes!
Thanks again for all the advice xx

mrsmoose
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:21 pm

Re: SGO / Adoption HELP!!

Post by mrsmoose » Sat Dec 12, 2015 10:27 am

Hi Everyone, another update!
After LA went back to the ADM, it came back that he agreed that adoption was the best order for our little one! Happy days......or so we thought!
Everybody involved has been convinced that there would be no problem in getting the adoption sorted and we would have the placement order before Christmas and adoption completed before her Birthday in April. We have undergone our adoption medicals, and assessment and are booked into adoption panel in January, to be passed and 'matched' (to the little girl that has been with us for nearly 3 years!!)
I had a phone call saying that little one's Guardian wanted to come and meet her along with hubby and myself. This is a completely new guardian, that has just come into our case, she drove the 300 mile round trip to come and meet us, spent an hour or so with me and hubby, then about 20 mins with little one. She was very positive and gave us the idea that she was agreeing with adoption. I spoke to SW the next day and she said she had spoke to guardian and everything was fine, she had the impression guardian was in agreement.
They went into court on Thursday for the placement order and the guardian's report said that because it was such a fine line between SGO and adoption and adoption is such a final order, she would suggest SGO! SW was floored, just wasn't expecting it, everyone thought it would be straight forward. We are absolutely devastated, because although the adoption wouldn't be sorted for another few months at least we knew it was going to happen, so we thought!
Now the judge has transferred it to crown court and district judge, he wants hubby and me to have copies of all the reports that were submitted, has told us to get legal advise and submit a document to the court voicing our opinion (SS are to pay for this) and he has invited us to the hearing. Apparently one order or the other will be made on the next court date, which has been delayed to begining of March as birth mother is due to give birth to her second child next week and they have to wait for her pregnancy hormones to settle down before going to court, as she is not agreeing with either order. (she is undergoing assessments to see whether she will be able to keep this baby)
SW is convinced that we will still get the adoption order, but after being so convinced last time and it not happening, I'm not sure whether we will or not. Feel really upset about it.
I can't believe that all the SW's involved and the ADM think this is the best thing for her and one person that has met her for 20 minutes isn't sure, so can make this decision that will effect the rest of little ones life! Who is she to say that little one can't have the chance at a 'normal' family life like every other child, it's not little one's fault she is in this situation.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 533
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:25 am

Re: SGO / Adoption HELP!!

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Dec 14, 2015 5:08 pm

Dear mrsmoose

Thank you for your updating post.

I am sorry that the situation regarding your great niece and the legal order under which you will care for her is still on going. This is clearly very frustrating for you.

It appears that your great niece is subject to a care order and the local authority are now applying for a placement order so that you can go ahead with adopting her. Your great niece has been approved for adoption and you and your husband want to move forward on this, although initially you were told Special Guardian Order.

Is there any reason why there is a new Guardian as usually the same Guardian from the care proceedings would be involved in subsequent court proceedings relating to the same child? In any event, the Guardian is supposed to look at the child’s welfare and what would be best for the child and report to the court. It seems that the Guardian has come in a taken a different view to the other professionals involved in the case.

You and your husband have been led to believe that a placement order and adoption would happen easily. However, since it is the court that makes the final decision in any application, you should have been told that although the social worker is supporting you for adoption the final decision will be for the judge to make. Knowing this, may not have felt so sure of the outcome.

An adoption order is final and from your great niece's point of view life changing in terms of her family relationship with her maternal family and in some instances her paternal family as well in terms of the changes in family kinship. Her father will, if she is adopted, become her cousin. The court therefore has to consider and ensure that you have all the information and her mother and her father (if he wishes) have a fair opportunity to state their case before a final decision is made.

The law requires the court to consider whether adoption is the best for the whole of the child’s life. An order is unlikely to be made if the court does not take this view. As the Guardian is not supporting adoption at this point, it is important that the application is heard fully. It appears your case has been transferred to the County Court (not Crown) for a Circuit Judge to consider the case.

Although it does not seem like it at the moment, it is probably best for all parties, to have the opportunity of putting their case before the court. It has been a long process and unusual for such a young child that this decision has taken so long.

Your great niece has settled well with you and I am sure she will continue to have a normal family life with you whichever order the court makes.

I am attaching a copy of our advice sheet relating to adoption and what it means for birth parents for your information.

You have already been given details by Robin D of how best to identify a solicitor to represent you and I confirm that it is important that you find a solicitor who is a member of the Law Society Children Panel.

Should you wish to speak to an Adviser, please telephone our advice line on 0808 801 0366. The advice line is open 9.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. Monday to Friday.

I hope you find this helpful.

Best wishes,

Suzie

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

Re: SGO / Adoption HELP!!

Post by Celle » Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:48 pm

Dear Mrs Moose,
My daughter and her husband are Special Guardians for a little girl who has recently turned 3 years old. They have had her since she was 14 months old.
Children's Services in the county that first dealt with the placement originally said that they would apply for daughter and her husband to adopt the wee girl (they are only very distant relatives to her). The whole family, including birth mother and birth grandparents wanted adoption, but then CS changed their minds, as the child had been in foster care for 10 months and they believed that an SGO would be quicker.

My daughter and her husband agreed to an SGO at that time, as it would be best for the little girl to get her into a permanent home as quickly as possible. They were informed at that time that they could apply to adopt some time later.

Apart from family wishes, which remain unchanged,there are some sound reasons (connected with SGO Dad's work) why adoption would now be more appropriate - he travels for work and could have to live outside the UK for long periods. ( Under an SGO, they can't take the little girl out of the UK for longer than 3 months without going through the process of obtaining Court permission every time).

They live in a different county now and this new county's CS are sympathetic towards the adoption in this case. They've had to go through all the medicals, police checks, references all over again and everything is complete, except for the birth mother's permission for the adoption. She has given CS her verbal consent, but now has to sign a legal form. She's still on drugs and isn't very reliable, so her signed consent could be some time coming.

CS in the original county are still negative about the adoption, and have not been helpful.

It's been 6 months now since the application to adopt was first made, so nothing moves fast.

If adoption is approved,it will be a relief to the whole family. I think in some circumstances, adoption, rather than SGO, is the right choice.

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

Re: SGO / Adoption HELP!!

Post by Celle » Tue Dec 15, 2015 8:26 pm

Even though SGO is a good solution in most circumstances, there are times when adoption would be more appropriate. If you feel that adoption is the best choice for your little one, don't be persuaded to give up.

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