The long awaited panel day arrived and we were as prepared as we could be. Not 100% sure what the format or style would be but we knew it was an eight person board plus three social services and two scribes.
Arrived on time and duly shown into the Board Room and formal introductions done. There followed a rundown of the agenda.
It became apparent within moments of the chairlady starting to give a precise of the good points of the report that the wrong report was being referred to. Been here before – there are still errors on all the other documents that have been produced!
I did make a comment to this effect when I had the opportunity and could hear the constant typing of the note taker, so assume my comments were recorded.
On that note all the errors must be corrected as they will only reflect the wrong facts of the case in the future which are automatically considered to be true when read in later years.
The questions asked were cross checking our attitudes to what had happened, what preparation we were doing and how we would deal with things in the future. It was traumatic for my better half.
Questions flowed from people around the table and where necessary we expanded the answers so a wider understanding was available. My partner needed a tissue when emotions got the better of here.
The pleasant aspect of the meeting was we knew we know our fate quite quickly. We left the room and waited.
The waiting room is the staff restroom so not private. My partner released her tears quietly but uncontrollably. I could only offer comfort by holding her hands. The chap who had been responsible for the creation of the report came in with a smile. Hmm! He has always been straight with us so I read good into it.
My partner entered first and the chairlady started to talk nearly straightaway. All I heard was … pleased … unanimously … and saw smiles throughout the room. The release of tension was immediate. It was explained that this is a difficult stage to get through. We both had a hard time holding back our emotions, neither of us sat down, we needed to be together to take it in.
We had passed the Fostering Board.
Yesterday was traumatic. We were expecting that. We are not hiding what has happened and understand, in a limited way, the implications for the future but really struggle to accept the generalisations quoted as thought they are facts and very likely to happen.
I had left the court grounds and was 15 miles away. Ten minutes after the court case had started I answered my mobile. It was from a number I did not recognise, and counter to my instinct to ignore I answered. A chap introduced him self as the manager of the two social workers involved with the safeguarding of our grandson. Both were unable to attend the court case and he was standing in. He continued to ask if I knew what was happening today – had we been told? No. We only knew what was happening as we had been shown a letter from a solicitor. A slight pause at his end and a slow statement – I need to ask a few questions.
Do you know if the proposed outcome happens today payment stops. Well … we were surprised any payments were made in the first place, but payments were never an issue, it is the wellbeing of our grandson that is critical, nothing else. That I think was enough. He said he would call later and keep me updated.
Now the killer. When the family met later we were told questions had been asked in court about why we were not present. I hit the roof. Later my wife hit the roof. We had been told by the key social worker for our grandson our presence was not required.
As it happens the cafcas social worker for our grandson had gone to the wrong family court 25 miles away so he did not have representation. Not sure where that could have been deployed as the 14 days pre-trial meeting did not happen as the letter only arrived two working days before the court case.
Our son and partner said a new social worker had being allocated to them and apologised for not being there.
The outcome is: a Supervision Order is now in place with conditions. It was stated that the next court visit , provided they keep to the plan, could be the end of the matter.
Court day! Having thought it was several months away, a surprise letter drew the court case to today.
The journey time was about 40 minutes, an easy journey. We normally chat about anything really, but today nothing was uttered from the start of the journey until we parked up.
I felt tears welling while I drove. I cannot comprehend a life without my grandson. It still upsets me the moment I think he will be gone.
We all needed a comfort break and found somewhere nearby. Sitting to partly drink coffee and partly to pass the time we chatted and it soon turned to my grandson, their child, and his antics of yesterday in the garden – filling the paddling pool with the hose while our dog ran a-mock chasing the shower of water droplets. It was fun, he is fun.
I became sad as when we left I thought our relationship while talking was really a wake!
This place (WordPress and my iPad) is my sacred place, I have no problems with bearing all to all. The ‘all’ is just anyone who stumbles here. I don’t really mind if no one reads it, it’s my world, it’s my history, and I hope those that do have empathy, not created from traumatic circumstances, look after their loved ones and cherish every moment.
It is like dieing slowly. It like all-sorts of people, so many not known, are all making decisions about my son, his partner and our grandson that are slowing killing us.
I do not remember ever being in a state of perpetual tearfulness as I am now. Even with my parents dieing, even with other deaths we have encountered I coped with out a personal drama. We are slowly loosing him to the system and see a beautiful, polite, happy young boy become apart of behemoth service. His innocence of our plight is magical to me.
My state of mind says, at my age, I might never see him again. He will be 18 (15 years hence) before he can decide whether to make contact. Have I got 15 years? That is the first time I have thought about my mortality.
During the time I have been involved with the Special Guardianship process with the social services I am of the opinion that we have not been told the whole truth about what is happening, and have felt uncomfortable with this.
I appreciate confidentiality is critical and I am not questioning that. Where I have problems is: different aspects of the case, strategy say, are done behind close doors. This is okay as it is described in the information that is online and in the public domain. Where the problem lies is they all do not have the same information to base their decisions on. We get slightly different views from people who may be using different sets of data.
I am not convinced a wholly accurate picture is being delivered to the court for them to base their opinion and judgement on.
Next week our son and partner have their day in court. I understand the social services concerns but do think they are using a very heavy sledge hammer to crack a nut. Somewhere there must be away of working proactively together to solve this problem. After all a significant part of the problem was aggravated by the very same social services letting them down after the first occurrence of problems.
They are both weary with the stress and worry of loosing their child. We are worried that we are not seen as fit and proper people to be Special Guardians of our grandson.
Sometimes I think the outcome will be positive in the direction of the family and at other times it is doom and gloom. The experience of the process is breathtakingly difficult due to the consistent pressure to be interviewed and fill in forms.
We have gone through the process as though we will be fosterers, and have been told Special Guardianship is less onerous, but few confessions have been made.
Our son and partner thought the court case was several months away as it had been intimated it was not a serious case, and adjusted their mindset to accommodate that. But an unexpected letter arrived giving them less than three week notice. So for someone who has been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and other related issues it is difficult to cope. From a person making good process to one where every problem that was had returns with vengeance was an easy response to predict.
Our son is in intermittent pain, two or three times an hour, and often can only move around by shuffling on his backside life seems difficult. Three weeks off work and another three weeks wait until a third scan can be done is problematic.
There are times he is ‘normal’ where he is good and mobile but he knows only too well pain is just lurking to get him. His pain relief tablets do not touch the pain and his doctor has tried to get him seen sooner but a months delay is the best they can do.