Contact with Birth Mum

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Starzza29
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2022 11:29 am

Contact with Birth Mum

Post by Starzza29 » Fri May 20, 2022 12:43 pm

So recently contact has been stopped between my step daughter, 6, and her birth mother.

Bit of background, birth mum lost custody at around 5 months, I think it was on neglect and mental health grounds. Social services had been involved since before step daughter was born, but stopped being involved once my partner was awarded custody, and his parents, step daughter's paternal grandparents have had an SGO in place for around 4 or 5 years now, which we are very supportive of as extra support for step daughter.

Birth mum has been extremely inconsistent when it comes to contact since she lost custody, and it is now having a negative impact on my step daughter. She's gone from being excited to extremely sad and angry to not caring when it was time for contact over the phone. She's also started questioning whether her mum still loves her or cares for her, and what has she done that her mum doesn't call like she's supposed to, etc.
Calls would often come late or not at all and there would be no explanation, so step daughter is left waiting for sometimes up to 3 hours before accepting the calls not happening or getting a text with some excuse or explanation that still left so many questions on our end. Face to face contacts have happened extremely rarely, we've tried planning for step daughter to have contact over several holidays and weekends over the past 6 months, which have always come about from us reaching out to her, never the other way around, but these have contstantly fallen through from issues on their end, and step daughter is left disappointed over and over again. There have been other concerns too; partner and step daughter's grandmother have seen instances of instability in mother's home, potential mental health "episodes" (I hate using that word but I don't know what other word to use) where birth mother's been screaming that she's going to kill herself with her children present and listening, potential domestic abuse or suspected physical abuse in birth mother's home with her partner, and birth mother's communication with us has been nothing but arguments about how we aren't doing enough to support her relationship with step daughter. Paternal grandmother has been in touch with solicitors and birth mother's former social worker about her concerns and had been advised to stop contact by both if there is another instance of concern, and social worker has said if there is another instance, to officially report it as they can start looking into the family again on safeguard concerns.
After more instances of late/no calls and cancelled face to face contact, plus screaming down to phone at us, SGOs and my partner made the decision to stop contact for step daughter's welfare, because it seems extremely unstable in birth mum's home/life and we want to protect step daughter from that.
Birth mum is threatening to go to court and that we can't just stop her contact like we have. There's nothing in the SGO that states an amount of contact, its up to the SGOs discretion, but I'm wondering where we go from here and what the next steps may be, especially as SGOs and my partner have followed legal and social worker's recommendations.
Sorry for the long long post, just lots to unpack and explain here.

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

Re: Contact with Birth Mum

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Mon Jun 06, 2022 3:48 pm

Dear Starzza29,

Welcome to the kinship carers’ forum and thank you for your post. I am sorry to hear about the difficult situation you are in and I hope that the following advice is of some help.

You say that your step-daughter’s father and her special guardians have made the decision recently to stop her contact with her birth mother. This is because they believe this to be in her best interests after seeking advice about the situation from children’s services and a solicitor. You say that the birth mother is unhappy that contact has been stopped and has said that she may take the issue back to court.

As there is nothing in the Special Guardianship Order which states what the level of contact should be between your step-daughter and her mother it is indeed up to the special guardians to decide what they feel is appropriate. It appears that they (and her father) have her best interests at heart and have reason to believe that any level of contact as things stand is detrimental to your step-daughter. If all those who hold parental responsibility for your step-daughter (her mother, father and the special guardians) cannot come to an agreement about contact arrangements then the matter can be taken back to court. The mother can make an application to the court for contact arrangements to be looked at. As there has been previous children’s services involvement it is likely that the judge will request information from children’s services and seek their views about the situation.

You don’t say what your step-daughter’s views are about contact with her mother being stopped but this is likely to be a difficult process for her. It may be worth seeking some therapeutic support for her – I would suggest that her father and the special guardians speak with her school about this as well as children’s services. It is also worth knowing that children who are looked after by a special guardian may be entitled to therapeutic support under the Adoption Support Fund. You can find more information about this on our website here.

I hope that this is helpful. Please post back if you have any further queries or you are welcome to call our helpline to speak with one of our advisers on 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9:30am-3pm).

Best wishes,
Suzie

Starzza29
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2022 11:29 am

Re: Contact with Birth Mum

Post by Starzza29 » Mon Jun 06, 2022 4:27 pm

Step daughter is upset at the contact being stopped, which is pretty understandable, but she has said on a few occasions that she's happy she's not talking to her mum, so it's a bit confusing. When we talk about it, she says she wants to talk, but towards the end before contact was stopped she refused to talk and hung up on video calls as soon as they started. I think that's its gone from her having that contact organised at the same time and days each week (whether her mum called or arrived on time or not) to now not knowing when she is meant to talk again is very confusing for her. We do talk about the situation with her, age appropriately of course, so she does have some understanding of why it's been stopped, but I think it being open-ended is hard for her to understand. I think therapy is something for her SGOs to look into, if they think it's a good idea for her.

Children's social have been kept aware of what's been happening since the SGOs first started having concerns, so we have no concerns about them coming back in if a judge needs it.

Her school was made aware as soon as contact was stopped, and they've said since there has been no concerns around her behaviour or her emotional regulation and understanding around it, so they don't have any concerns either, just want to be kept updated, which we understand.

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