how does one show they can sustain change

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Joined: Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:20 am

how does one show they can sustain change

Postby justiceisaright » Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:57 pm

I am very frustrated at the moment.

Social services took my children December 24th (Christmas eve) after a neighbor left an anonymous referral saying I was partying the night before and came home drunk. They came the next day and I had left two of my children in the house and gone to the shops to buy cleaning supplies, Christmas food, and take laundry to be serviced. The house was a tip when they arrived and I was arrested and agreed to a caution of putting a risk to the children.

I worked hard to fix up the family home. My mother came to and helped me pay to fix up the home and bought new carpets for me and helped pay the rent as my housing benefit stopped. She then left back to America and the social worker never came to visit me. My solicitor asked them to please see the home but they refused to stop by and said I was never in when they arrived. ( I was working) During this time I continued to fix up the home, arranged all work to be undertaken, paid my rent of 1400 a month, made all supervised contacts, fed my children a full healthy meal, brought them presents every contact including shoes, clothes, and toys. I had overloaded myself so I cut my working hours, stopped my social work course, and arranged a family group conference. I contact my ex husband through the local mosque (I did not have anyway to contact him as he had stopped contacting his children many years ago and I had no info on him as he lives in another country but as he is part of the salafi sect I knew they could get in touch with SS), and I reached out to my neighbors so that they could better understand my situation by inviting them to the FGC.

My mother came back in March and I arranged all travel to the contact center for us both. I kept the house clean and was very grateful for the emotional support my mother offered during this very traumatic and stressful time. Social Services returned the children to me with my mother supervising and arranged contact with their father. He has talked very negative about me and my mother throughout and making wild allegations. Thank fully Social workers have seemed to see through this so far and have put forward that I can finally return to America with my family.

A bit of background is that in 2009 I fled Qatar with my 3 children after experiencing horrendous domestic violence from my ex husband.
2009-2010 he put me through court to have the children returned to Qatar however we had habitual residency in the uk and although the judge did not believe my allegations against my husband were allowed to stay in this country.
Dec. 2009 was the hearing. During the hearing my ex husband said he had no intention of marrying
1 week later he went to Pakistan and married his current partner on Jan 5th of 2010.
Judgement from Dec. 2009 came in on Feb 2010
He came to hear the judgement and at no time did he mention that he remarried or divorced me.
He requested the courts give him contact with the children in Qatar at that time. Caffcass did a report stating that they felt I was alienating my children from him but that they are too young to travel to Qatar for visits at this time.
I agreed to give my husband (thinking we were still married) contact as much as he wanted and he accepted 21 days a year as he is a wealthy man, can afford travel and frequently traveled to England through his job.
He last came to visit the children in the summer of 2010
Sept 8th his new baby was born.
One month later in October he stopped contacting my children on the phone.
He missed the court dates after that as well and disappeared
I was put on a child in need plan due to the school and a neighbor stigmatizing me and had a social worker.
I found his wife on facebook and contacted her as I noticed her posting things and pics of her and my husband. I told her we were still married, about the abuse he put me through and how he has not supported his children and stopped contact with them. I found her very manipulative during that time. saying let them come to Qatar to visit.. blah blah blah.. and I told her plainly that I would not allow that to happen. However that I would like him to keep contact with his children and help support them financially and emotionally as I was struggling as a single mother and he is a very wealthy man.
She had to push and convince him but finally after a very long time she got him to make a call to his kids.
This made me feel uneasy about it as I felt he wasn't contacting the children because he wanted to but because his wife was pushing him too. Also he never contacted me to find out if the children needed anything. he never called again in any case.
I asked the social worker about it as he stopped contacting the children and never called them back which left them distraught he was also insensitive to their feelings by having his wife speak to the children despite all of us believing me and him were still married.
I got off the child in need plan and went to counseling to make sure my experience in Qatar was not affecting me and I didn't have post traumatic stress. The counseling did not find any issues and felt I was fine.
put on the caf with the head teacher in charge. while professionals were around me everything was fine but as soon as professionals were not around me the head teacher started her stigmatizing of us again.
I contacted the caf manager who got an intensive support team involved. She said that I needed someone else around to see that the head teacher "concerns" were untrue. the intensive team found no safeguarding issues and stated all of the issues were historical (it should be noted that I did not fit the criteria for their services)
This head teacher caused me a lot of stress. so I went to the nhs as I needed someone to talk to. I was able to talk with a counselor for 10 weeks which helped me realize that the school was being unfair and that I was coping well enough given the circumstances and my parenting was not affecting my children despite the acute stress because I am very mentally healthy.

I asked to be taken off of the caf as a result and transferred the childrens school after the head teacher spoke to my nanny saying that we "are not the type of family she should be working for." She also asked leading questions and slagged me off to the nanny. This was a very serious incident in front of my children and my nanny considered contacting services to the abuse of me and my family by the head teacher. However the head teacher is very well connected and one of her sons in of the downing 10 so we did not pursue the matter.

Everything was going really well. I started a social work course and focused on my business to give the children a better life. The children were doing very well in school. I was finally able to buy a car with the extra money and keep my rent paid despite housing benefit being cut off for months. I was doing well but working myself to the ground 50 hours a week plus doing my studies and struggling financially because the benefit office kept cutting me off and all my income went to keeping a roof over our head.

I had no regard for myself as I started my own business, going to school and taking care of the kids to above the standards expected of me. I became terrified of having social services come into my life again. My neighbors stigmatized as they didn't understand all we had been through with my ex husband and I felt any move I made was criticized by them. For instance during the child in need plan the same neighbor who stigmatized me called with concerns I had men over the house. The social worker came back to me and asked if I was a prostitute. I was shocked as I hardly spoke with men as I used to be a muslim who covered my face and apostate from Islam - so speaking to men was a very foreign concept let alone having them in my home in a manner that put the children at risk.

I ended up closing my curtains and became fearful of asking neighbors for help. And as I didn't have any support in the uk accept a few friends that when I started having terrible pains, was feverish and weak I would still keep on working. finally in December my washing machine broke down and housing benefit got cut again so I couldn't afford to buy a new one. My children caught the winter bugs and I had to somehow keep my clients for my cleaning business... I became exhausted as a result. But didn't ask for help from social services because I feared them and the lies I found with my last social worker. I paid a very high rent and couldn't move with the children as they were wards of the court since 2009. To say we didn't have a normal free life is an understatement and I was not allowed to travel with the children despite the lost contact with their father. I never had a break and was just running myself to the ground as a result.

So after the children were returned to the family home on May 22nd with my mother here they have now started their care plans and what they thing the future should hold. So far Social Services have been pushing for me to go back to the states with my mother where I will have more support. they have told me this is best as even if the school calls them because their hair is undone I will end up losing my children. As we have a court case there is a lot of parallel planning so my mother has been assessed as an SGO and ex husband has been assessed by social workers in Australia. I have also found out that he divorced me without every serving me any papers or giving me a settlement (he is a millionaire). He is making wild allegations against me as well and his assessment was very positive because he claims I kept him from his children which caused him depression and that his wife married him and got pregnant to help him get over the children he lost!

The SGO on my mother and stepfather was very positive. However my psych assessment was very negative saying that I have NO mental disorder however that I am self centered and put my own needs before my children. The Doctor has stated that the reasons he feels this to be the case is because I went to Qatar with my husband without any family support and put the needs of my husband before my children. He called me histrionic and that I could care for the children in the short and medium term but would have difficulties in the long term as a result and that this could never be cured. He advised that I needed six months of CBT as well and suggest it would be best if I move to America to be with my family.

The guardian came by yesterday and asked me questions and spoke to my mother.. I became quite upset after hearing her say that my mother would be getting custody of my children and make all decisions in their life if we were to move to the states and I would come to live with her for at least 2-3 years. This quite rightly made me feel very upset as I am 37 years old and my children were getting upset as they could hear her in the other room so I took them outside.

When I came back in she spoke to me. When the guardian asked me what happened in Qatar I was very fragile and started to cry. I suppose it is because I feel losing my independence of my children makes me vulnerable and that reminds me of being vulnerable in Qatar could be a small part but mainly because this whole thing has been emotional and their constant harassment over unsubstantiated evidence is causing me acute stress. She asked me how I fed the children in Qatar and I told her that I had to steal food from the shops as my ex husband did not provide for us. She asked me what I thought about the psyche report and I felt very fearful and unsafe to answer her question. However I did answer and told her that I do not think it was accurate. I do not feel I am selfish (self centered) in any way and every step I have taken over these past years have always been for my children. She asked me if their was any part of the report that I accepted and I said I did not think I needed CBT because I do not have distorted thoughts. Then I asked her if she thought it was self centered to go to another country with my husband to which she replied no because he was your husband.

She then said that she thinks I need therapy because I cry when talking about Qatar and that this is obviously unresolved for me. I thought it was resolved and I don't quite understand why crying about makes it unresolved. I can't imagine ever not crying about what happened at times. However that I went to therapy and can talk about what happened quite often in a safe environment to family and friends without crying. She said that because I might have post traumatic stress and so need therapy and that I will need to live with my mother while I am going through therapy as a result.

I can see the sensibility in this because I have been taking care of my children for so long that perhaps I have not had a chance to deal with everything we have been through with the trauma of Qatar, trauma of having allegations against me by the school and neighbors and the harassment by them, trauma of having social services involved in the child in need plan and the outright lies within that and threat of child protection, trauma of having my children taken away from me and finally the trauma of throwing me out of the country with no job and living in a vulnerable situation in America. Yes I agree I need therapy to help with these issues however as far as I can tell I have handled with and been very emotionally strong because I am mentally very very healthy!

the guardian stated that she does not believe I can sustain changes because when I have services involved in the past it shows that I improve however quickly go back when they are not around. This is probably because when people are around other people cannot lie about me. However as soon as services are not around I am vulnerable to the stigma and allegations (like being drunk and leaving my kids in the house.).

So her careplan is that I go to America, that my mother will make day to day decisions in my childrens life and I will live with her as a bystander supporting my children, and that if I don't agree to this then I will lose my kids.

My solicitors have told me I have to agree with care plans and that if I do not agree with them and they put the psyche doctor on the stand then I will lose and my husband will get custody.

My husbands assessment was very positive and that none of the other stuff matters because he has a stable and loving home, a strong relationship with his current wife, and is very well off. I am flabberghasted by his assessment. It has major redflags in it and he has not even come to visit his children during this court case.

Is there any hope at all. My ideal would be to take the wardship off the children, stay in England while I am working and save up money to go back home to the states. However as I fear social services here and a change in social worker then I'd go to the states and stay with my mother for 6 months and rent a home close to her once I got a job and been through 6 months of therapy as recommended by the psych doctor. However to live with my mother for 2-3 years or even until the children turn 18 years old would be incredibly stressful and just doesn't make any sense at all. It seems very over the top!

Whats more I cannot believe that despite not offering me any chance to prove myself and with no mental illness but "histrionic traits" that I cannot challenge I would lose my children forever if it were not for the support of my family. There are plenty of mothers who battle with depression, ptsd, anxiety who are able to care for their children well. Now that the ex is paying child maintence my circumstances are less stressful and in fact the only stress I have in my life is this court case and having these people involved with me.

I feel as if I am being stigmatized as a single mother and that they are not looking closely at the support by services in the past and that I have not been able to challenge any of the "concerns."

Whats more I cannot believe that people in this country and organisations like family rights group are not challenging the system enough to make it improve and people aware of what is happening in it. There is not anyone in my neighborhood that now believes I cannot do this on my own. I am a fantastic mother and my children have only been affected by this case and have no mental health problems, my parenting assessment was very good in that respect and only noted that I am isolated and it is mainly been financial worries.

I don't blame social workers as much as the other professionals around us who, accept for the actual judge, don't seem to have a shred of common sense.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: how does one show they can sustain change

Postby Suzie, FRG Adviser » Tue Aug 11, 2015 5:17 pm

Welcome back to the forum. I am sorry to hear that you are frustrated. I can see how much you have done to maintain the changes that you had been expected to make.

However, it now sounds like you are at that crucial stage where you know what everyone’s position is. This is where your legal team will be able to review all the evidence and advise you of whether you can challenge any of it or not.

The guardian is suggesting that your children go to your mum under a private law order-such as a special guardianship order-giving her parental responsibility to make all the day to day decisions. Her plan is that you remain fully involved.

Often in these circumstances, when a connected person (relative and friend) take on the care of children, a parent would only get limited contact. What the guardian has put forward seems to be a plan that could work in your favour. I know it may be difficult to live with your mother, however, the plan would allow you to still live with your children while you have the therapy. Not to be separated from them.

The alternatives are for dad will take the children to live with him and his wife or for you to have the children re habilitated home with you.

The last plan might not work because of the principle of delay set out in the Children Act. It says that delay in making plans for children is detrimental to their welfare.

The psychologist report says you need therapy which may take 6 months or more. This will take you out of the 26 week timetable-so the court is unlikely to allow the children to wait to see whether the therapy will work.

The alternative is for you to challenge the expert but your solicitor says you will be unsuccessful.

At this stage in the proceedings, I would hope that your legal team would have access to all the reports and so can advise of what is best path for you to take.

Please post back and let us know how things are going.

Best wishes,

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Joined: Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:20 am

Re: how does one show they can sustain change

Postby justiceisaright » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:53 am

Hi there,

Thank you for your response Suzie,

We went to court on Monday for an arrangements hearing and everyone including the ex husband is in agreement over the plans to go to America. It would be silly to fight the evidence against me as a result and so I have no chance for a fair trial where the evidence is weighed and determined to be valid or not. In other words I have accepted the children are placed on an SGO with my mother and we will both go with them to America. This has been done because in the States an SGO is not recognized and it will be more like a shared parenting arrangement. We are still awaiting what the mirror order will look like (that means an order that the states will accept and apply). So in essence both me and my mother will have day to day care of the children.

Some notes on this:
The social workers were on my side almost throughout but it is the system that works against parents. Thinking from their angle we had two choices as some of the management were very harsh in their criticisms while others disagreed and showed some empathy. On that basis staying here as a single parent would have made me vulnerable to unsubstantiated "concerns" being even if the school told them the childrens hair was messy one day or they were late to school.

So although I aced the parenting assessment they made the recommendation I go to the states to be near family where I will have more support.

(note that one of the allegations consistently against me (previous to this) was that I had no support to care for the children and thus was discriminated against for being a single working parent There was little I could say or do to change peoples mind of this hence the school kept raising false concerns like that I did not have enough money to feed my children more then bread and jam.)

The social workers were aware of the concerns raised to them and unfortunately in my child in need plan the social worker was trying to move up a pay grade. So although I had proof of some of her lies these would not be contested in court if I challenged.

Which means I cannot therefore hope to show I can sustain change because many of the concerns were false to begin with. Like many people on here and professional research I must point out this injustice in the family court system in that they fail to update records when clear proof is shown.

The Guardian

Bases her decisions entirely on the paperwork she receives at face value. For instance, the social worker after reading my ex husbands parenting assessment saw many red flags. However the guardian was not brave or insightful enough to see past the fact that the social worker in Australia was positive about his ability to care for my children. As stated previously, my husband stopped contact with his children, lied in court, married a women 1 week after that hearing and before the judgement and she purposely got pregnant to forget his other children. Her sister also had to have psychiatric care as a result of being forced into islam and leave America and return back to Pakistan. (I am an apostate from Islam). He also has not sought contact or paid any child maintenance over the years and has clearly put his own needs before his first born children. However the guardian did not seem to pick up on any of this or her role meant that she could only take this assessment as face value!

She also viewed my assessments very negatively because it recommended I go back to America where I would have more support.

And finally the psych assessment of me which called me histrionic TRAITS being self centered and ego centric meant that I could care for the children in the short and medium term but long term I would never be cured! (Anyone reading this assessment can see the contradictions and that the Dr's reasoning is not inline with his profession!)

Solicitors and Barrister --- Mine were shocked that we were able to do this. My barrister said "well played" and that he was in shock. That has told me that this system is completely screwed up despite him being one of the best in his field. My solicitors and Barrister did not seem to have much faith in having my children returned. and when it was announced my mother would be an SGO it was clear they made eye contact with her rather then me. He stated he thought I needed therapy too!! To be honest I was not impressed with the treatment and vote of confidence by my legal team and even more so the fact that they did not fight for me more aggressively without causing any ripples in negotiations. In fact they hardly negotiated anything at all on my behalf and basically it was all me calculating moves. Although my solicitor was good at writing the affadativs and putting them in a more court friendly style that would not offend the parties. There is no doubt they are very good at what they do however the system is set up for parents to fail and that they are part of that system. My only wish is that they would have been honest and forthright about this from the beginning rather then trying to keep my hopes up only to receive an assessment and in the end tell me I had no chance.

Judge- The judge is by far the most sensible of all the professionals. In the arrangement hearing he caught on straight away that my ex husband did not have the childrens best interest at heart. He said its common sense that on one hand family (maternal) has been there since birth and supported the children and been in contact (grandmother left her job and came on a visiting children whilst in care) and on the other hand father hasn't had any contact and the children do not know his new family in Australia. He allowed the children to come home (with the social workers agreement) on a supervision order in May as a result.
(Note - in the first hearing ex claimed that he was unable to attend next hearing due to work commitments and next hearing his barrister stated that he was in Pakistan visiting his wifes family although this wasn't commented on directly by the judge)

--- the judge expects all professionals and parents to agree on what is best for the children. (this is where your barrister and solicitor needs to be aggressive in defending us against allegations something they cannot possibly do justice to as professionals they must seem to agree with the reports and concerns.) Judges do not like to have long drawn out fact finding hearings because it is exhausting and produces little help to families and children. If your social worker, guardian and anyone else wishes to twist things then it is extremely easy to do so as they are professionals and we the parents are in low standing in this regards. Having said that what I saw from the judge was one who would look at the evidence in an unbiased manner and according to the system (which is not on parents side) make a judgement in the best way he can for the children. My view is that the judge very much cares for the children and has a degree of common sense he is able to practice whereas other professionals do not have such autonomy in their decision making.

My choice-
As a result of all of the above I have had to make a very difficult choice especially because of the new 26 week timescale to end care proceedings. Social Services kept stating they were worried I could not sustain change because when I had services in the past I did very well and made changes (i.e. listened to all advice) however that when services were not around I quickly needed them again meaning I could not sustain change. The Guardian also felt the same and for this reason these professionals decided that I could not care for my children on my own. With my mother here they were on my side in saying that I am doing well with her support and she is a positive in the care the children receive. (there is SOME truth in this as a single parent having the support of family has been very positive however if I was able to get help with a car and financial support from father as well as have a normal right to family life and take wardship off the children then we would not be so isolated and if housing benefits stopped cutting single mothers all the time!)

I went through the psych assessment with my Doctor and a psycho therapist who have all agreed that it was non sensical and he contradicted himself. From a professional point of view his reasons to say I had traits was invalid. However because he is an expert and the judge is not he would have had to agree with this assessment unless we could prove it otherwise. Unfortunately proving this assessment was inaccurate is not an option as they do not allow experts in the refute the evidence. ( I also note that I have seen first hand that experts are very much there to make money and not for the families. This is a big business and I believe the expert opinions should be done through the NHS rather then private and that it should be in keeping with NHS salaries rather then become a big business and therefore hold a substantial bias in their reports.) (note- I have been to counseling 2 times and a stress control workshop and no concerns have ever been raised. I have never been on the threshold to receive help for anxiety or depression. And in fact even after reading the psych assessment they refused to give me CBT treatment as they felt I didn't need it. I have had to push my GP to refer me to the mental health team anyway as a recommended by my solicitors).

Lastly the mirror order in the USA will not be an SGO as they do not recognize this type of status over there. All professionals agree that adoption is not what they wish for the children so instead the mirror order will reflect more of a shared care arrangement.

What this means for me and my children.
I will be leaving a successful business that I have established without a car or any support and some 100 clients.
At 37 years old me and the children will have to move in with my mother in the states who will support us and I will have no right to move. I will also have no job to earn money and so will be depended on my mother and step father.
There is a risk that this will put an incredible strain on our relationship as they will lose their independence and be responsible for not only the children but also for an adult.
My confidence will be shattered as after all I have been through I felt proud of myself to give my children a 3 bedroom home in one of the most expensive areas of England, care for my children despite the pressures on our right to a normal family life, my children have no mental health issues, and create a business from scratch through it all. The area we live is stunning with a lot of art, culture, large spaces and parks, history and community. We are close to Europe which is a wonderful thing for growing children to experience and with the right to travel we can visit the states. I was saving money to eventually relocate in a strong position when I could get back to the states. And we love England and call this home.
The area we are moving too is a rural area with lots of cows and very from from the cultural advantages of Europe. There is not a benefit system in the USA as there is in England which will mean me and the children will be completely dependent upon the good nature of family. Society will shun us as a result of not having ourselves together. We are moving to a place where I have never lived and neither have the children leaving all of our friends who have supported us over the years behind. As I have no employee history it will be difficult to find a job in the United States and probably end up working in McDonalds.

Sadly because of the unjust system both professionals and parents find themselves in we have no choice. We are one of the blessed ones who have been given a choice. I saw so many parents with small beautiful babies in that court room who have no chance, I saw teenagers who told me of abuse they suffered in care with no voice with one mother desperate to get her back home (her kids were taken from her because the home was too clean and a psych report). And I saw social workers who had no choice but to work within that system and do their job. The main areas that need to be cleaned up in this system is the psych reports and parents ability to challenge all concerns against them and change their records accordingly.

A decision like mine should not have happened. It should have been that I was able to stay here and save money, to improve my circumstances and both have a common goal which is to save my children from heartache and pain. Now my children are fearful they will lose me, fearful that they will end up unloved in foster care, and the worry and stress upon them is obvious. This should not be the case. My children are having attachment issues from just 6 months in care. My son was badly treated in care and the foster parents "accidently dropped him" on one occassion and grabbed him so hard he had a bruise on his arm. Social Services reported this as him fabricating his experiences! ( I understand why the social did that because to be honest these foster parents are a lot better then most and it was due to my sons anger issues however we all know that they could have done a better job like I do).

Foster care is not a replacement for families yet they are making 300-650 pounds per week per child
to care for our children. With that sort of money all of my worries would have went away and I would not have had to work so hard to care for my own children. In foster care many of the children are emotionally abused by living in loveless homes with no real attachment to the children.

It was with a great deal of conflict within myself that I did not know what was better for my children. To go to America with me and my family, to go into foster care, or to go with their father. I quickly decided for the reasons above that foster care was not a possibility, their father is also not a possibility as he puts his needs before the children and his current wife is able to manipulate him which has left me with the doubt whether they will not throw my children in Pakistan with her family, force them to be muslim and their beliefs, and there is a lot of inhumane treatment and child abuse in those type of circumstances. I also feared that she would treat my children badly under my ex's nose or that he will not stand up for them. And lastly the decision to go with my family. It is going to be a hardship and means we will have to make a lot of sacrifices. I don't know what the future will hold however I know that these children will be loves and safe and that my mother will care and protect them as best she can. That I will be there to make sure of this and play a mothering role in childrens lives.

Could I have won the court case? No because the 26 week timescale means that parents have no options to prove themselves and my mother could not stay to supervise. I however do believe that Social Workers would have tried to help me keep my children as best they could however they are also victims of bad decisions in management leaving it much more precarious.

Even now things could change in a heart beat. I even fear writing this on the website. However I hope that families can read it, family rights group, and understand that not just one person is to blame. I often see people blame social workers however it is the system that needs changing, the psych assessments and the bias contained within them which are many, and autonomy of professionals who wish to fight for parents but are prevented by protocols and culture of an archaic family justice system.

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