FAMILY is vital for the whole SGO process. It is more common than not, that SGOs are granted to a family member or a close friend of the family.
When family members are faced with challenges it can get very complicated and can effect everyone in the family emotionally and cause major headaches between family members.
Helping baby H maintain his family dynamics as SGO parents is not the easiest.
So, H is my great nephew. His mum is my niece. My sister is his grandmother and my mum is his great grandmother.
I am one of five children to my mum and dad – currently ranging from aged 30 to 46. I have 3 older sisters. One is married with four children, one is married with three children, one is a single mum of two children, I am married with two children and my little brother has just had his first child.
H’s mum has four children in total. The eldest lives with the single mother, the two other children live with their maternal grandparents – another of my sister’s.
H has two maternal half brothers (aged 2 and 3) and a half sister (aged 4). As they are with my sisters he gets to see them relatively frequently. He also has a half brother on his dad’s side whom he has never met.
His maternal grandmother often pops round to see H and have a cuppa with her little brother!
Whilst we had the interim order, we would take H to see my parents most Saturdays. My Dad had quite a connection with H. I had never seen him bond with any of his grandchildren like he did with H. I’m not sure if it was because he was born in their home so he felt a connection – or whether it was because he had always been working when the kids were all small. He retired around 6 months before H was born.
During my niece’s pregnancy, she had moved into my parents who were helping her to put things in place, to engage with social services, the mental health team and other agencies. This unfortunately broke down soon after H was born and led to his removal and my niece being asked to leave my parents home.
Following the breakdown of my niece and my father’s relationship and the removal of H, my niece fell back into old habits very quickly which exacerbated her mental health conditions. H’s dad was sent to prison soon after H was born and my niece met someone else quite quickly.
The following months of her behaviour and actions had an adverse effect on my mother’s health as she had become very anxious about going out, going into town for example – in case she bumped into my niece.
As we had baby H on an ICO at the time, we received torrents of abuse, threats and harassment resulting in us having to get an injunction as a preventative measure. My niece maintained contact arrangements with H for the first four months of his life – these were around every 2 weeks, supervised, at a contact centre.
Around April 2016, my niece’s new partner got into some bother and they both eloped to Scotland. Things in the wider family began to return to normal.
A court hearing was arranged for June 2016 about baby H’s long term care. We did not know if my niece would make the trip and attend in person.
Understandably, she was extremely emotional for most of the two day hearing. She was also very angry at us for being there, for looking after H and for wanting to look after H long term – despite it being her recommendation when all evantualities were being discussed during the pregnancy.
On the final day of the hearing things got too much for her and she was taken to the local hospital by an ambulance after having an outburst in the court room and breaking down.
On our way home we went to my parents as they had been waiting on news. Whilst there, my Dad received a call to say she had walked out of the hospital and was on her way to their house. The long and short of it, she was not going to return to Scotland and she managed to convince my parents that she should move back into their home.
That day we gained a child, but lost my parents. We could not take H to my parents if his mum was there. Similarly, my two sisters could not go to my parents with the children if their mum was there.
We all had quite a tough time after that. Previously we all regularly visited my parents and would often all congregate at my parents over the weekends.
As part of the court proceedings we had successfully obtained a non-molestation order against my niece. She breached this order whilst residing at my parents and three times my Dad had to go to the police station as my niece’s responsible adult.
With five children, they had never had the police turn up at their home or ever had to attend the police station because of their children.
With the breaches of the order, my Dad asked me to not report it. Something I knew that I had to do because of how my niece would potentially use it against us in the future if we didnt.
A major rift formed between me and my Dad. We did not speak for around five months. I managed to see my Mum twice in this time. This time period included Christmas. You can imagine how tough this was. I would normally see my parents every weekend before H. After H, I would get to see them as often as I could when my niece was not there.
My Gran sadly passed away earlier this year. The funeral was the first time that my niece, me and my wife had been in the same room since H came to us. We received glares but managed to keep our distances.
Eventually, things between my niece and my parents broke down again and she was asked to leave my parent’s home in April 2017. They realised how my niece had managed to manipulate them over the proceeding 9 months, and the impact it had on both of my parents health – also the effect it had had on my parents relationships, not just with me, but my other siblings too. My Dad is a very proud man and we could not tell him. It was something he had to work out by himself… and, eventually, he did.
My parents wanted to help her, she was their first grandchild, they wanted to see her sort herself out. They wanted to save her and none of us could blame them for wanting to do that. And none of us did. We understood, even though it was tough for us and at times we felt that they had chosen her over us, their children.
H’s Father’s Family
H’s Dad met H soon after he was born at the hospital. He also visited him once my niece left hospital with him at my parents. Soon afterwards he was sentenced to a prison for misdemeanors prior to H’s birth.
We met him for the first time during the court hearing and he wrote us a letter after meeting us about getting the help he needed, reforming and being there to see his son when he was released.
Soon after H moved to us, his paternal grandmother – who had communicated regularly with my parents during my nieces pregnancy with H, asked us to contact her to thank us for coming forward to look after H, to arrange bringing some items she had been holding for my niece during the pregnancy and to ask if she could meet H as she was yet to see her grandchild.
With Social Services approval we arranged for her to visit us in our home, in H’s familiar surroundings.
It went well. Nanny J has visited regularly, every few weeks for around an hour ever since we have had him. Twice she has even been able to bring some of H’s cousins to meet him.
H also has a half brother on his dad’s side but at this time, he has not met him yet.
Unfortunately, contact between H and his dad since his release from prison was sporadic. Out of the 5 arranged contact sessions, only two were attended by his dad. One of them was because his mum took him there to make sure it happened.
The father of the older children had managed to put his life in order after his relationship with my niece ended and he now has a healthy, positive relationship with his three children, H’s maternal half-siblings. We hope that one day H’s Dad will also be able to be a similar rolemodel to his son as his half siblings Dad is to them.
GROWING UP CONFUSION
H is the luckiest child alive but confusion will come as he gets bigger I am sure with who and how he is related to whom.
Our children are 2nd cousins once removed to him but are like a brother and sister. He has multiple ‘Nannys’. Nanny B (my wife’s mum), Nanny (my mum, his great nan), Nanna (my sister, his nanny), Nanny J (his paternal nanny)
He has a mum and a dad who he will potentially continue to see on a regular basis – if they can be bothered to arrange further supervised contact. It would be good for him if he could still see them so he knows where he came from.
He has brothers and sisters that he doesn’t live with – but are still brothers and sisters.
I am a keen genealogist but at this moment in time I have no idea how to draw out his family tree!
A few months ago one of my sister’s created a WhatsApp group for all of the immediate family (my parents and my siblings and partners). This enables us to get information out quickly and so everyone is fully aware of what is happening. It’s not all been about the SGO children or my niece… lots of random stuff like the weather, old photos, my sister-in-laws new baby… and my Dad just can’t get enough of the GIF feature on WhatsApp either!!! The group has probably brought us a little closer together again and helped with us supporting each other. H’s nan (my sister) has found this particularly useful when she’s had a bad day with my niece / her daughter.