Helping children to return home
Gabe (15 months) had 2 sisters who had been adopted due to their Mother’s chronic mental health issues, drug misuse and issues relating to domestic violence. Due to this history, Gabe was taken into local authority care and moved in with Carol and Zak following discharge from hospital.
Carol and Zak were approved as both foster carers and adopters so that they could care for a child whilst a rehabilitation plan for the birth family was tested.
“We understood that there was a real chance Gabe would not stay with us forever, which was emotionally challenging for us, but for us the benefits of having those early months with him outweighed the risks. Our social worker was brilliant as she realised that as much as we wanted to do this we still needed to talk.”
“His Mum’s problems did not improve after Gabe was born and she did not attend many of the planned contact sessions. We would sometimes see her when we picked Gabe up. I did feel uncomfortable at first but she was never hostile with us, in fact she was a very vulnerable woman. Knowing that we met his Mum will be important for Gabe in the future.”
“After 8 months the court approved the Local Authority’s plan for Gabe to be adopted. From that point we knew that all being well he would be staying.”
“Gabe is a loving boy. The first few weeks were intense as he was withdrawing from drugs and each stage brings a new challenge. We are delighted to have Gabe in our life and know that we do have challenges ahead. The training is good it helps you think differently about what kind of parent you can be. There was a Gabe sized hole in our lives that is no longer there and I will always be thankful that we were able to be there for Gabe when his birth family couldn’t.”
Sheila - Social Worker's perspective
“Concurrency is a very child centred option when considering adoption but it places a level of uncertainty on the adopters rather than the child while the plan for the child is decided, but we as a team will support them to manage this. I was aware that it was important to get the balance right of being optimistic for Carol and Zak whilst being realistic with them that the primary plan was for rehabilitation. Whilst the plan was being firmed up I tried to help them focus on what they are giving Gabe and what this time is giving to them.”
“Carol and Zak also need time to cope with uncertainties about Gabe’s health and development . In the first few months when Gabe became unsettled, concerns about possible causes of his distress used to overwhelm Carol. I remember feeling a breakthough when Carol said “He is just Gabe”. “Recognising and accepting that his early trauma may mean he would have a different development journey than other children, was important in helping Carol settle into parenting Gabe.”
“I helped Carol and Zak to feel confident to try different parenting strategies with Gabe, which took into account his early trauma and to try them out for a while to see which strategies met his needs, so that eventually they could share them with their family.”