Growing Family – how we came to have the extra child

WE ARE a “normal” couple in our 30s. We had a daughter in 2007 and a son in 2010. We were happy with our little family and my wife decided that we didn’t want to have anymore children.

Little did we know, our family was about to grow in the most amazing way possible.

It was 2015 when my niece, with long standing mental health challenges, had fallen pregnant for the 4th time in four years.

Throughout 2014 and 2015 her mental health and life choices had resulted in her 3 children being rehomed within the family. I had been involved in meetings, care plans and contact arrangements throughout the process for my niece and the family. This had been tough, emotional and quite a roller-coaster.

During pregnancy number four, my niece had engaged with agencies and was seemingly doing very well, with a place to call home and support from her maternal grandparents (my parents). We were asked if we would be assessed ‘just in case things should things fall apart’. I agreed, although my wife was not keen.

Baby H was born in January 2016 and the court granted baby H could remain with his mum. For the first two weeks baby H and his mum remained in hospital for a couple of reasons but mainly, for the baby’s health and possible withdrawal symptoms from mum’s medication during pregnancy.

On returning to their home, things spiralled out of control very quickly.

I received a phone call at around 4pm on the wednesday from social services explaining what had happened. I was driving home from work on my own. They asked if they could put us forward to care for baby H for the immediate future whilst they sorted out what happened next and it would be going to court the following day.

After being told we were not needed before, we had made plans for our life and our family. Both my wife and I worked part time and also ran independent businesses from home. We had planned the business growth. I asked what would happen if we weren’t able to.

The response was “he’s a newborn baby, no one else in the family have come forward. He would most likely be put up for adoption” [two of my siblings had recently been granted SGOs for her other 3 children]

Without checking with my wife I said yes. In my mind, I could not be the one to ‘condemn’ him to the care system.

The conversation with my wife when I got home was a difficult one. There were tears and quite a few choice words.

On the Thursday, we had just arrived at our son’s school just before 3pm when the phone rang. The court had granted the removal of baby H from his mother and for us to be temporary carers of him.

My wife broke down in tears. I was numb. We had nothing for a baby. After deciding we were happy with our two children we had cleared all of the old toys and equipment a few years previously.

Where would we put him? We have a 2 bedroomed house.

How would we tell the children?

How will the children react?

How would we cope?

What would happen with our businesses and work, whilst juggling a newborn?

How would my parents react with the removal of the baby from their home?

We had limited funds, how would we afford what was needed?

Just after 7pm he arrived in a car seat, with a Moses basket and a nappy bag with a few nappies in it and the clothes he was wearing. He didn’t even have any baby wipes.

Our life had changed forever.

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