MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS

SO WE were thrown back into nappies and sleepless nights 6 years after deciding we were not going to have anymore children.

When you have your own children, it’s difficult enough juggling life, them, their sleep routines and relationships with – and visits to – family members and friends.

Most of our “Mummy and daddy” friends have children of similar age to us. Going back to a newborn after several years is almost like starting over with your first child. Your friend circles that didn’t have babies when you had your first, went on to have children but now they are much bigger and are now back to work. So many SGOs are typically grandparents so it must be even more of a challenge to them!

So, an SGO is largely not recognised by many workplaces. When you have your baby you get maternity / paternity leave. When you adopt, most companies have adoption  policies involving leave and fostering most companies have policies for that too. My wife works for one of the biggest supermarket chains in the UK and there is no policy in place for this scenario.

Fostering is classed as a job and there is an expectation that a single person fostering would leave their job to foster – and in a couple, the primary carer would leave their job.

An SGO is neither. So life must go on as it did before he joined us. When H joined us, it was on an Interim Care Order which wasn’t even an SGO so the area was even greyer.

I must say, Nadia works two days a week at this retailer and has done for 12 years. They were very supportive towards her. 36 hours after H arrived in our home she went to work. Nobody knew about it. It wasn’t too long until Nadia had a mini breakdown at work and she blurted out what had happened.

It left some head scratching and phone calls between the store and their head office HR department – they let her take the day off (paid) and would come back to her once they had looked at the policies and taken some advice. In the end they gave her 3 weeks paid leave.

I am self employed and am flexible with what I do so I wasn’t impacted as much but if I didn’t go to work, I would not have any money coming in.

This post is more about the relationships we are trying  to maintain for H but I felt the above information is relevant.

Hs Family 

So H has a half sister at one of my sister’s.

He has two half brothers at his Nanna’s house alongwith two aunties that live there.

He has another Great Aunt that doesn’t live locally

He has a Great Uncle also.

He has a half brother on his father’s side that he is yet to meet.

He has my parents (his great grandparents)

He has his paternal grandparents

He has a few aunties and uncles on his paternal side, not to mention cousins.

He has a mother

He has a father.

Mother and father each had supervised contact during the interim care order and for the first 12 months of the SGO.

The father managed two of the contact sessions before losing interest and, at this moment in time, shows no interest in seeing him.

The mother was a little more reliable only missing one session… but now having been told she needs to pay for supervised contact to take place at a contact centre, she is refusing to arrange anything.

The maternal half-siblings he gets to see relatively frequently. His Nanna often walks past our house and pops in – and is good friends with our neighbour. The half sister lives with my sister who is a single mum who works full-time still. The half sister sees her dad every other weekend so is difficult for him to see her regularly.

Paternal Nanny, Nanny J, has met H regularly. From when H first moved in, Nanny J came to meet him and comes once or twice a month for an hour or so.

I take my children and H to my parent’s home most Saturdays. My kids are both at school in the week so generally only get to see my parents on the weekend. 

If either Nadia or I worked full-time it would be very difficult to maintain the relationships that we are currently doing. This takes time out of what we do, the contact would often interfere timing wise with H’s sleeping habits and is, quite frankly, quite exhausting! But it is important for H to recognise his family who do want to have a part to play in his life.

With the contact, due to our court order we had – and my wife’s persistence with social services, H was always collected by a lady from the contact centre. This was extremely unsettling for him as he got a little bigger. He recognised the lady who came and what it meant. He cried as soon as he saw her. He would arch his back when trying to get him into the car seat in the lady’s car. He cried all the way there. 

H struggled to settle at contact with either of his parents. Dad had an hour every six weeks which only happened a couple of times. Mum would see him every six weeks for 90 minutes. The first hour or so, we were told, he was reluctant to interact with or play with mum, but by the last half an hour he would begin to. As you can imagine, this was quite hard for mum to deal with but she persevered and turned up to all but one sessions.

For H’s long term benefit we hope that both his mother and father, arrange for their contact to start again. He needs to know where he comes from and know who is parents. We were chatting last night about what we need to do if they don’t. Obviously this blog, unless deleted, is a record for him to look at in the future but we will also be putting a book together for him.

If Nadia or I had full time jobs, with H being so small, we would not have been easily able to maintain the relationships with his wider family as we have done. We may not have even been able to accept Harvey if I worked my old job where I was away from home 2 or 3 nights a week! 

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