Last night we went to see one of the plays written by Judge Stephen Wildblood at Bristol UWE.
For those of you who don’t know Judge Stephen is the Designated Family Judge for Avon, North Somerset and Gloucestershire.
He wanted to ‘show’ people the sort of scenarios that go on in the Family Courts, I say show, he believes that showing people rather than just telling them is very important, and I absolutely agree.
The scenario of last nights play, I know will be difficult for many of you, as you will have experienced it yourselves.
It was about the adoption of a baby.
The rough background story is this:
A young mum, who is an addict, has a baby, in fact her second baby, the first one was taken into care and adopted. The Dad had suffered a serious accident and had left him with difficulties, he too was an addict.
Social Services were of course involved and recommended that this baby should also be adopted.
The maternal grandparents applied to adopt the baby themselves, their two adult girls had also been adopted by them. The eldest daughter, who was the mum of the new baby, went to live with them when she was four years old, it was when she was a teenager that the relationship between her adopted parents started to break down, she felt she didn’t want to live by their rules and left home. Her life then spiralled out of control, she became drug dependant and homeless.
The younger sister, was very hostile towards her sister, she saw the damage it had done to her parents.
The grandmother in particular was devastated to be rejected by her daughter, and it affected her mental health badly. The grandfather, did all he could do to support his wife through this difficult time, supporting his wife, trying to keep the family together was so hard.
The grandparents decided to apply to adopt their grandchild, at the time of the first grandchild being born, due to the grandmothers poor health it wasn’t an option, this time it was different, her health had improved, and so the process begins.
They are visited by social services, their youngest daughter was against the adoption and vented her feelings strongly, she was worried that it would make her mum ill again.
After assessments etc it moves to the court room, with the judge presiding.
The conclusion was that the application from the grandparents should be refused, and the baby was put up for adoption.
The obvious desperation for everyone was clear to see.
The mum was just left, she had no support having just heard that her baby was going to be taken from her, she asked her social worker where was supposed to go, there was no helpful answer.
Where is the after care for these situations?
The scene moves forward, to the mum begging on the street, her dad finds her and tries to get her to go home with him, she refuses, then her sister finds her. She tells her she misses her, and that she wants her family back as it was, she says she will help her get support.
Eventually she agrees to go to rehab.
After the play itself, the characters remain in their roles for a Q&A.
There were several questions from grandparents, one grandparent who had adopted his grandchild.
He felt that there is very little if any support for them, and that had they fostered the child instead there would have been much more help both financially and physically.
There were questions to the social workers, who in most cases had to defend their actions, but there was also a very strong view that they have an enormously difficult job to do, they are underfunded and resourced, and that no social worker wants to take a child from their biological parents.
Of course those of you who have had bad experiences will react to that I am sure, understandably.
There were of course lots of questions to the Judge as well, who also stayed in character for awhile.
That is a very brief overview.
I did come away with more questions than answers.
Did the grandmothers mental health history impact the decision?
Another one would be:
Why not put the child in foster care, to give the birth mother time to get clean, and time to show she could be a good mum?
If she was allowed that time, she would also have had the help and support from her parents and sister.
If the grandparents were good enough to be adoptive parents to their now two daughters, why aren’t they now?
We all know that the system is flawed, it all needs to be reformed.
Was this decision to have the baby adopted the right one?
The truth is we will never know.