Monthly Archives: June 2015

Safety gate-gate

Just to let you know that the following occurred at the same time as LO’s birthday which I already blogged about, but I wanted to have some time to properly write about this. So here it is and I have to warn you, there is a fair bit of moaning to come…

Denise came to our home on behalf of Richard at one of the fortnightly visits to see how we were doing. During this meeting, we talked about how well LO is doing in many things, as she honestly is. Denise asked if there was anything that was not going so well and we mentioned LO’s issues around food. She said that we were doing a really good job and asked if we could get a safety gate for our open plan kitchen to keep LO away, and we said that we would look into it. The rest of the meeting went okay and then Denise did something really strange. After all her talk about attachment and telling us not to invite too many people into our home during the settling-in period so LO wouldn’t get confused, Denise suddenly picked LO up and sat her on her lap. LO immediately reachd for me or my beloved to take her back again, which we did. I found this strange as LO had only met Denise once or twice for a short period of time and surely this was exactly the thing that she had told us not to do.

The next visit was Richard and that went okay. He didn’t raise any concerns about our open plan kitchen and thought things were going well. Shortly after his visit, we found a safety gate online and had it delivered. The space between our kitchen and our living room is quite wide so we had difficulty finding one wide enough. We finally received it and tried to attach it, but due to the angle, the gate would not fit and it would have had to be secured to the internal stud wall on one side and a kitchen unit on the other side, both of which are quite flimsy. LO is very strong and would have ripped out the gate quite easily and it most likely would have hurt her (either by it falling on her or her falling on it). We decided to send the gate back and continued to look for another, which we told Denise.

Anyway, things came to a head when my beloved had another review meeting with Denise, without me. For some reason, Denise suddenly became very fixated with health and safety. She kept talking about getting a safety gate even though my beloved said she usually cooks when LO is having a nap or if she is preparing food for LO when she is awake, she puts LO in the high chair. However, Denise did not trust my beloved and demanded that we get a safety gate. Denise also apparently stared at the lead of our kettle which is very short to the point that the kettle can’t reach anywhere near the edge of our kitchen work surface, which is also too high for LO to reach anyway. I am being completely honest with you, there is absolutely no way that LO could reach the kettle at all. She also stared into LO’s bedroom, seemingly looking for any potential dangers. What we don’t understand is that we have already had a home assessment done during our adoption assessment and Denise has been to our home many times before, so why this now all of sudden?

The strange thing is that at the end of the meeting, Denise told my beloved that she will be leaving within two weeks. Well. Not sure what I make of that and I wonder if something happened with another case of hers which is why she is over-zealous now.

Shortly after this meeting, we both received a snotty email from Denise demanding that we get a safety gate and that ‘having a safety gate is a standard requirement for adopters with small children’ and asking us to keep adequate safety measures in place whilst we wait to get another gate. This email really annoyed us as it implied that LO’s safety was the last thing on our minds – never mind the fact that we have been looking after her for a while! Richard, LO’s social worker, hasn’t said anything about getting a gate. Denise was supposed to be our social worker and she was throwing obstacles in our way when there didn’t need to be. Our first priority is, and will always be, to ensure that LO is safe. We continued to look for a gate and we replied to Denise’s email asking her some questions, mainly was it a standard requirement for adopters to get a safety gate for their kitchen? We already stated that we would put LO in the high chair if we were in the kitchen so how would a safety gate and her being in a high chair improve the situation? What would we do if we were in the kitchen and LO was on the other side and had an accident? Surely the gate would prevent us reaching her quickly? Whilst we waited for a response from Denise, I rang Richard to see what he thought of the situation. He didn’t think we needed a gate and thought that the measures we already had in place were fine. He also received a very curt email from Denise stating that she is leaving in two weeks without a hello or goodbye. He was quite irritated by her email and her short notice of leaving. He found it odd that she was leaving so soon as social workers usually have to give more notice. She either kept it quiet for a while or something has prompted her departure. It does make me wonder.

We received a reply from Denise. Unsurprisingly she ignored most of our questions and asked us to get an estimate from a ‘qualified carpenter’ to fit a safet gate. I don’t know how much money she thinks we have but this will be one expensive gate!  We asked her again to clarify the purpose of the gate and how it would improve upon our existing safety measures. On her last day, she said she needed to get clarification from her managers who were conveniently out of the office. So she demanded that we get a gate (even pay out for a bespoke gate) and couldn’t even explain how this gate would be safer than what we are doing already. What a social worker.

She hasn’t been any support to us whatever. She arrived late for appointments, even missing the meeting we had with LO’s foster carers, asking me to take notes! When she did finally arrive, she rang to ask how to get there! She didn’t find any children for us, the few profiles of children that she did show us were months out of date or completely outside of our matching criteria, she didn’t answer any questions or requests for information, and she put obstacles in our way. All I can say is good riddance!

Meetings and things

Amongst all the excitement, I forgot about the official bit. Since LO moved in with us, we have had to have fortnightly vists from LO’s social worker (I can’t believe I haven’t named him yet – I shall call him Richard). As Richard is from out of town, Denise and Richard will be doing alternate visits. After 4 weeks, we are due to have a LAC (looked after children) review held by an independent reviewing officer. S/he will come to our house and ensure that everything is as it should be.

Once we are 10 weeks into the placement, we can apply for the Adoption Order which is the court order to make LO legally ours. If we don’t get this within 3 months after the LAC review, we will need another LAC review. Hopefully though, we aim to apply before that!

In the meantime, Denise has to write a summary about us to give to the birth parents. It is like a profile of us but with no identifiying features. This is so the birth parents know something about the people who are looking after their birth child. We were happy to do it and looked over at what Denise had sent through.

Richard is really nice but this is his first adoption case as he has moved from a different part of social work to the adoption team so there are a lot of questions that he doesn’t have the answers to. However, unlike Denise, he is honest about this and tries to get answers from his manager. I do find it odd however, as it is quite a journey for him to make, and when we do see him, he doesn’t really have much to say or ask. Maybe he is satisfied with the way we are caring for LO – or that’s how I like to see it!

Transition – eating problems

Apologies for not posting for ages. Things have been very hectic and it’s hard to find time to write this blog. However, I’ll be catching up as soon as I can!

Things are going very well with LO but it seems she has an obsession with food. She will moan for more food after she had eaten, she gets very upset if she has to wait a few seconds for food (e.g. When you blow on her food if it is too hot) and she will be fixated if she sees food. I’ve read that babies/toddlers self regulate but LO does not do that. If we let her, she would continue to eat until she was sick. The thing is that she wasn’t like this when she was with the foster carers or when we met her during introductions. I’ve talked to people and looked on the internet and it seems there are other kids who do this but I couldn’t find anything about adopted children. We always hear the same thing, ‘well at least she’s eating’ which yes, I can imagine it is stressful if you had a child who didn’t eat but this does not help our situation and if I hear that one more time, I think I may scream.
So all we have to go on is that clearly the transition had something to do with it, and/or we are stimulating her lots more than when she was with the foster carer, and/or the food we are giving her has more flavour (she generally had packet food at the foster carers), and/or she is going through a growth spurt. I suspect that it is a combination of all of the above. What is clear is that, when we encounter an issue, we can never entirely unpick it due to her being a potentially adopted child (can’t say she’s adopted yet as we have to get the court order first). In these situations, my advice is to ask adoptive parents – which is what we finally did. My beloved takes LO to a local (ish) playgroup for adopted children which is held regularly. Once a month, the playgroup hold a weekend session and we all went along. It was really lovely to meet other adopters, and their children. It gave us a chance to talk to others who knew what we were going through which you can’t do at other play groups. It will be very important for LO as well so she has friends who have been through a similar experience. We talked to quite a few adopters with young children and found out that a lot of their children had experienced similar issues with food. One woman stated that children who can’t talk find food a comfort and eat to fill the emptiness and loss they feel from being taken out of the foster carers home. when I heard this, it made perfect sense to me. So now we don’t really worry about this anymore. We give her sensible amounts of food and snacks and there will be times when there will be food around that we can’t control, e.g. at playgroups where other children are having their snacks. When these situations occur, we make sure we have plenty of healthy snacks, and try to distract her or remove her away from the food. This works pretty well, particularly as we are less stressed about the whole thing. The really odd thing is that I couldn’t find any information about comfort eating and adoption which is weird considering how common it is, so I’m writing about it here in case someone else encounters this.

As LO settles with us, we hope that she will gradually find comfort in other things, other than food. We have already started by reading the emotions book by Todd Parr to LO. She may not understand all of that book yet but she will be used to taking about emotions and hopefully will be able to identify how she feels. We also spend lots of time with her and we are attentive to her needs so she can go through what she needs to. I know it sounds all doom and gloom but we do have lots of fun times too!