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Am I mad to consider this...

(42 Posts)
hummingbird Fri 17-Apr-15 00:15:17

Advice badly needed, please! A friend of mine, who had two adopted children, died almost five years' ago. Her husband has just passed away, leaving the children, a girl age 14 & a 17 year old boy. The boy has gone to stay with his very elderly gran, but none of the (very small) family will take the girl. She is staying with friends while Social Services try to place her with a foster family. I have been helping out, and I'm considering taking her in, at least for the short term. Am I doing the right thing? Our children are grown up, and we have young grandchildren, and I have a busy, full life with lots of interests. I think there have been many issues and challenges, and I might be walking blindly into the lions den. But I feel so bad for her! What would you do? Any advice gratefully received!

Anne58 Fri 17-Apr-15 00:43:01

Friends of mine did foster care, and sort of specialized in looking after disabled children/young adults, but also did emergency foster care for other children. This might be for one or two nights, or uo to 6 months and beyond (They ended up adopting one of their most severely difficult placements!)

hummingbird it is obviously on you mind to take this step (why ask on here if you hadn't already been thinking about it?)

It is obviously something that you are giving thought to, perhaps you could offer to let the poor girl come to you for a month, and then take it from there? I realise that if at the end of the month you felt that it hadn't worked out, then it would mean her going on to another placement, but of course you won't know if you don't try.

Perhaps the first step might be to contact Social Services and talk it through with them?

Sorry I can't be of more help, but every good wish to you and the children.

amarmai Fri 17-Apr-15 01:03:08

if you don't try, will you regret it?

janeainsworth Fri 17-Apr-15 01:49:35

It must be about what is best in the long term for the girl.
If there have been 'many issues and challenges' it might be better for her in the long run to live with people who are experienced in fostering older children.
Hummingbird you could still keep in touch with her as a friend without taking responsibility for her upbringing.

loopylou Fri 17-Apr-15 06:45:56

I agree with janea, that would give the child a stable home life and you could still be there as a friend. Taking on a 14 year old is a huge commitment and if things didn't work out then it would be very upsetting for everyone.
It's sad that she'll be separated from her brother.

It's curious that the (small) family haven't stepped up to the mark IMO.

nightowl Fri 17-Apr-15 07:51:32

Do you have the support of your family with this hummingbird? Taking on a 14 year old is a big step and not easy if other family members have doubts. Having said that, you could offer this young girl so much, if only in the short term; someone who knew and loved her mum, who she can talk to about her grief, and who can keep her in touch with her brother. If she then goes to foster carers (strangers) you can still be there as a friend and someone to support her from a distance. If it doesn't work out at least you will have tried your best. Foster placements often don't work out either.

I agree with phoenix, talk to social services, talk to your family, and think it over very carefully.

whenim64 Fri 17-Apr-15 08:19:56

A colleague did this, Hummingbird. Her friend's daughter needed a home and she wanted to look after her. No other children involved. It wasn't easy but she made the commitment and knew rejection further down the line when it got difficult could cause harm. It put a strain on her marriage and they separated, which rocked the child's sense of security. With fostering, there is training, experience and ongoing support, and you could ask to stay involved as a family friend who knows both children. My colleague's child is at university now and goes home for holidays. She supports her financially and they rub along ok, but both see it as temporary now she is close to independence. From observation, it wasn't what my colleague had hoped for - she wasn't prepared for some of the challenges and the child didn't regard her as having the status of a parent or guardian, so remained emotionally distant despite consistent support.

nightowl Fri 17-Apr-15 08:39:56

All of that is true about fostering whenIm but you could get all the same support hummingbird if you ask to be considered as a family and friend foster carer. Social Services have to assess and treat you as a foster carer if they are the ones making the placement and if the child would otherwise go into care.

I still say it's something to think about very, very carefully, and not by yourself. Fostering has to be a whole family enterprise to be successful. Good luck, whatever you decide.

rosesarered Fri 17-Apr-15 10:10:32

I think that what WhenIm64has written is a salutary reminder, Hummingbird of what may possibly become reality for you if you take this very big step.If you were the Grandma then you would have to do this for the girl no matter how it turned out, but you are not.If there have been problems for this girl(and I feel very sorry for her, being adopted and then losing her adopted Mother when she was just nine years old) and the small family won't take her, you must know why they won't.Age 14 can be a difficult time for any girl as well. what if you took her in, and next year you died?Not being morbid here, but any of us could die now we are older.She needs some stability.I do understand how you feel, I think I would feel the same too, but take your time to think on this problem.Good Luck.

harrigran Fri 17-Apr-15 10:17:22

I think this may not be straight forward as none of the family have offered to take the girl, it suggests to me there may be behaviour issues or something else you are not aware of. In my family we would never separate siblings, the boy is almost an adult and I would have expected him to speak up for his sister.
I would get advice and tread carefully, teenagers are hard work.

Ariadne Fri 17-Apr-15 10:24:06

Hummimgbird I can only echo what others have said. I do understand how your heart is telling you one thing, while your head is questioning it.

As a family, we have recently been involved in a long adoption process and have learned a lot from it. (And acquired two lovely new DGC!) as grandparents, we went to quite a few training sessions and workshops, and learned about fostering as well as adoption. There is no doubt that both are not easy things to do - well, you know that, I am sure.

A hard decision to make, but the child's needs and interests are foremost, and stability would seem to be her greatest need, followed by your long term well being. I hope things work out for you, I really do.

gillybob Fri 17-Apr-15 10:24:36

An excellent, well thought out post roses.

Poor child losing her birth mum (for whatever reason) and then her adoptive mum at only nine. Bless her heart.

It is a massive step to take a child in hummingbird and you are to be congratulated for even considering this selfless step. I do hope you can reach the right decision for everyone concerned. smile

AshTree Fri 17-Apr-15 10:35:48

I have so much sympathy for you wanting to step in Hummingbird, but I think you already know it could be fraught with difficulties. You say there have been 'issues and challenges', and this is hardly surprising - 14 can be a very difficult age for any child in a normal, strong and supportive family. But to lose her adoptive mother at 9, and now her adoptive father as well must have really knocked her for six. If her wider family won't take her in, then I think you have to take that as a very strong indicator that you could be taking on a hugely difficult role.
Placed with a foster family, people who are more than used to challenging teenagers, will probably be the best thing for this poor girl - but to help her through, it would be lovely if you could be a kind of 'honorary gran', someone who sees her regularly, takes her out, treats her, and generally provides the much needed link between this new life and her old one. As others have said, speak with Social Services about this before making any decisions which you could regret. Good luck flowers

Mishap Fri 17-Apr-15 10:56:07

I agree that the compromise solution of the lass being with experienced foster parents with you as a constant friend and outside support could be the answer. But I would go and discuss it in confidence with the social worker. It could be a way of you having a sounding board - someone who knows the situation and can advise.

As others have said, this poor lass is going to have a lot of problems - maybe her life experiences prior to her adoption were problematical (often the case); she has lost both her adoptive parents; she has been rejected by the wider family while her brother has been welcomed. There could be lots of behavioural problems and you need to tread gently, whilst making sure that she knows you care about her.

It goes without saying that you would not be able to undertake this without 100% agreement and backing from your entire wider family.

Good luck with this difficult decision.

NanaDenise Fri 17-Apr-15 11:22:55

Poor girl. I can understand where you are coming from Hummingbird. Have you spoken to her to find out what her wishes are? At 14, she will have her own opinions on what she wants.

Finding foster placements for adolescents is difficult as there are not many foster carers with room and possibly a children's home may not offer her what she needs - stability and love.

Over the years, we have fostered many teenagers and more recently, my five grand-daughters have lived with us. The youngest have been with us almost four years now during term times and there is just over a year before they go to uni. (if they do). It is hard work and I do find these particular ones difficult. I find I am more tired and less tolerent of mess and the constant back chat.

Keep in touch with her as a link to her past. Someone she can talk to about her adoptive family and to ensure contact is kept with her brother. It is always helpful to have a sympathetic ear when you feel the whole world is against you (something most teenagers think some of the time).

I hope things go well and that she has a brilliant social worker assigned to her. It makes all the difference.

Tegan Fri 17-Apr-15 11:24:13

I know of someone that adopted a brother and sister many years ago. The last I heard was that she is estranged from the boy and that she still has problems with the girl. I would tread very carefully Hummingbird; the child 'isn't' your responsibility [I think you may be feeling in some way that she is]. But you are a truly kind and amazing person to be considering this. I hope you find some sort of compromise. 14 year old girls can be nightmares, even when they're your own and mainly free of emotional baggage [speaksfromexperience confused].

hespian Fri 17-Apr-15 11:49:14

I can really understand your dilemma OP. I think if I were in your position I would be having exactly the same thoughts. It is a massive decision with many factors to consider. How supportive would your partner be, if you have one? How well do you already know the young girl? Are you geographically close to her or would she have to be uprooted from her home to live with you? I think the suggestions you have already had re a trial period, discussion with the young person about her wishes and involvement of Children's Services are all good advice. I really hope that the situation is resolved soon for all concerned. Really a difficult one.

mrsmopp Fri 17-Apr-15 14:55:43

What does the girl want to do? How well do you know her and how well do you get along with her? Have you discussed it with her at all? Is she really a difficult girl to get along with, or do you feel you could grow close to her and give her the support love and stability she needs?
I wonder if a trial period would work?
I realise I have set a string of questions, but they are important issues to be sorted before any commitment is made. It might work out brilliantly or it could be a huge mistake, giving you loads of stress.
Honestly, what are your gut feelings? If you have loads of doubt I would say don't do it.
But do keep us posted and let us know what you decide and how it goes.
Good luck, whatever you decide.

fluttERBY123 Fri 17-Apr-15 15:53:03

I think you need to speak to social services and they would have an initial talk and then maybe do an assessment if they thought you were suitable, i e if it was feasible, given your own circumstances. If they decide against at least you will have done all you can.

From what you have said though, the possibility of keeping in touch and maybe having her for short holidays might be a middle way beneficial to all concerned - if she is at all difficult it would give the eventual foster carers a break.

Soc servs try to avoid trial periods as if the arrangement breaks down the child sees it as yet another rejection - for that reason they vet potential foster carers carefully. Any professional foster carer she went to would have had training and experience to deal with the situation and avoid the child's feeling rejected.

Parcs Fri 17-Apr-15 16:29:05

Humming first of all, amazing that you care so much, your story gave me Goosebumps.

Think it through--do you feel you could offer the little girl the love and attention and time that she deserves.

Think about what is best for her and then try and make it happen.

Bless her little heart, hope things go well for her.

Eloethan Fri 17-Apr-15 17:28:19

A trial period sounds OK but what if it didn't work out? Wouldn't the young girl, who is likely to be feeling very sad and insecure already, feel even more so if you find it is too much of a commitment for you?

I think it's wonderful that you are so concerned and caring but is it worth considering that experienced foster parents might be better able to cope with the challenges and difficulties that you have mentioned were already present?

She could still come to you for visits and short holidays and maintain regular contact. That, I'm sure, would be a great comfort to her.

Of course, it is your decision but since you say you already have a very full life and have some trepidation about taking on such a responsibility, if it were me I would think very long and hard - and speak to the social workers - about what would be involved in taking on such a commitment.

Mishap Fri 17-Apr-15 17:35:13

Sometimes it is good for a teenager to have parents or foster parents with whom they can act out - but also to have that solid friend and supporter outside of the family home. It might be a scenario that would be even better for her than you fostering her. She then has two support networks, rather than just one.

jinglbellsfrocks Fri 17-Apr-15 17:47:59

You don't say why no one else in the family wants to take the girl in. Is she difficult? You don't actually mention how old you are, which is bound to make a difference to how well you could cope.

Do you get on well with her? Do you think she likes you, and would be happy to live with you?

We don't know enough to advise.

hummingbird Fri 17-Apr-15 20:29:00

Thank you all so much for your thoughtful and helpful comments. There is only a small extended family. Her brother has gone to stay with his gran, who feels she is too old to take on a 14 year old girl. I think it's fair to say that she's always felt closer to the boy. On that side of the family there is a uncle, and the girl's father has two grown up children from his first marriage, who don't feel able to help. My friend (the children's mother) died from cancer. The death of the father has been sudden and unexpected. We are both 62, and fit and well. In the years since the mother's death, I have had limited contact with the children, so I don't really know that much about them. I gather that the girl has been difficult, and has had some school-related problems. She is dead set against going into foster care, and I think she sees us as the least awful of her limited available options. I feel so awful for her. I'm just worried that it will fail, and she'll suffer further. I'm meeting the SW on Tuesday, so things may be a little clearer then. Thanks so much - you've given me some food for thought! flowers

hummingbird Fri 17-Apr-15 20:33:04

Should have said... I do like her, and I think she likes me, mrsmopp, but I recognise that we don't have a very strong connection yet.