It all got too much. So I wrote to our MP… I wasn’t sure whether to share it or not, but what the heck.
Further to the communication you have received from my friend and my mother and father in law, I write with information regarding my family.
My children, Norman, aged 7, and Marvin, aged 6, were placed with myself and my wife for adoption in February 2017. Prior to this, they had spent approximately 18 months in foster care. When learning about the children prior to the placement, we were told that they had suffered neglect, although the extend of this we only learned later, and that they were “boisterous” and “playful” little boys. Whilst this is true, we weren’t informed that our children had a history of severe behavioural problems.
Shortly after placement, we began asking social services for assistance and support with our children; we had been ill-informed, and were therefore unprepared for the challenges that our children presented. This was very slow coming, and we were informed by the children’s social worker at the time that the problem was our parenting style and confidence, and that they were unable to provide any additional support to allow further time for my wife and I to bond with our children. At that time, we did manage to secure a short course of Theraplay for Norman, which helped to a small degree.
During 2018, my wife became unwell, suffering with depression and anxiety, in no small part related to the strain that Norman and Marvin presented. She was unable to attend work between July 2018 and January 2019 due to this illness. At this time, I also left my position as a Nursing Sister in an Accident and Emergency Department in order to take on a less strenuous role with more regular hours for the benefit of the children, who struggled whilst I was working predominantly night shifts.
In October 2018, I contacted the Post Adoption Support Team. We were allocated a social worker, who assessed us and agreed that the boys did require professional intervention. She agreed to make an application to the adoption support fund, initially for assessment. Unfortunately, this application took several months, despite regular contact with the social worker, and frequent promises that the report was “nearly done”. This delay meant that we weren’t eligible for the 2018-2019 funding, and that our situation was deteriorating rather than improving.
We were finally assessed by a clinical psychologist in November-December 2019, over a year after I had originally contacted post adoption support to say that our family was in crisis. During this time, I struggled with my own mental health and had to take some time off work. It then took the clinical psychologist – recommended by the local authority – until May 2020 to submit her report, meaning that, yet again, we had missed the funding for another financial year. This report confirmed the difficulties we were facing as a family, and in particular the difficulties our children face as a result of their early life experiences. It recommended a comprehensive treatment plan for both boys, but yet again, we had to wait while funding was applied for and approved.
As it stands, we are still waiting for this treatment to start. My wife and I have now separated, in large part due to the strain this situation has put on our marriage. Our children are two of the most damaged, most vulnerable children in the area, through no fault of their own. They deal with this by being violent and aggressive towards us on a daily basis, both verbally and physically. We have asked repeatedly for support, and yet despite waiting for over two years, we continue to wait. Recently I contacted the children’s safeguarding team to as for a needs assessment, however they felt that post adoption support should be responsible for helping us, whilst post adoption support say safeguarding should be.
I can’t help but wonder what has to happen in order for someone to take our requests for help seriously. We have locks on our knife drawers as our seven year old son threatens to stab us or himself frequently. We can never be sure from one year to the next whether the adoption support fund will be renewed by the government, which is worrying as it seems likely our children will need support well into the future. Does one of us have to end up in hospital, or in jail? If that does happen, will someone look back at our case and ask why help was not there when we asked for it? It seems to me that our family is a tabloid front page waiting to happen.
We are now working with therapists, who are planning to help our boys, but this help is coming far later than any of us needed. As our MP, I hope that you can look at our case, and other similar cases and find a way to help us remain safe. I hope that you will consider the needs of the children in your constituency and recognise that not enough is being done to help them. There is a lot more to our story – rejected referrals, false accusations, injuries suffered by myself and my wife at the hands (and feet and teeth) of our children, however I feel that you have plenty of information to work with.