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Adopting siblings with SEN

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Hi,


Has anyone got experience of adopting siblings with SEN? Things to consider?


M


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As in all siblings have sen?

I guess it depends on how many siblings, how severe and what the future was looking like !

Can you enlarge on your question at all confidentiality permitting.


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Mine didn't when I adopted them but two now do have SEN. How hard/painful it'll be will depend on so many factors. What their additional needs are, how they can be met, what local schools are like, whether they already have ehcps.


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Oh i have just seen your other post

I have 2 children with v complex needs ( tube feeding , wheelchairs etc) . One long term fc other adopted.

I find it v rewarding and wouldnt do anything else but it does have to be your whole life if the children have significant needs . You need to factor in lots of appointments , liasing with professionals etc and possibly moving or adapting your home.

Almost certainly they will remain dependant on you a lot longer (though this tends to be typical of a lot of adopted kids anyway.)

You may not be able to work outside the home again etc

Obviously that is the extreme end of special needs and it may not be as full on with less severe needs?

I think with sen kids you do have challenges but they are not always the same type of challenges you get with other children if you see what i mean .


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Parenting children with additional needs is incredibly hard. I have a bd with epilepsy and an ad with suspected ASD. For a start there's a lot of appts which make it difficult to work. My bd sees 2 different consultants and has had numerous investigations. Also need time off when she has a seizure. AD has appts with consultant, nurse, portage, social services and salt. In addition has regular taf meetings. I feel like I constantly have to ask for time off!

AD is very challenging to parent. She has multiple sensory issues, is very sensitive to routine changes and her behaviour can be difficult to manage. Sleep has been a huge issue. Holidays, trips and special occasions have to be planned carefully and not been brave enough to take her abroad yet!!

Also my husband and I never go out. Difficult to get anyone who's confident to care for them other then family who already help us with childcare for work.

Having said all this I love my children dearly and we are happy. I would say go for it but don't expect it to be easy x x


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Do you know why? Is there anything underlying? It can be easier getting help and support in school with a clinical diagnosis eg autism. It's understood and there's a clearer pathway. If it's possible fas/fasd then in my experience it's much harder to get support. It's just not that well understood.


Any older siblings to compare? Any genetic stuff? In utero? It's not going to be just about the SEN aspect - but the child as a whole.


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Global delay + speech problems = often asd!


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Meeting the children's social worker on Tuesday...what questions do I need to be asking? xxx


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What post adop support will be available ? Respite ? Ha ha i know ! But worth asking as you may need it in the future.

Is there any financial help ? You may not be able to return to work outside the home so would there be an adoption allowance if that is the case.

What are long term outlooks looking like (as far as anyone can tell which is a best guess scenario). If you have definite diagnosis for them you will have a better idea.

Also is your support network robust enough?

Just a few thoughts off the top of my head !


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I expect I'm posting too late but Wizzywoo is spot on- financial support, make sure you get everything set up in the option order and how robust is your support network. However robust you think it is expect it to decrease by 75% sadly and it won't be the people you think. Let us know how you get on.


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Hi,


Went well - they would come with a means tested AA and would each likely get the higher rate for mobility when they get old enough (eldest is 4).


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Hmm. So in effect you've been guaranteed nothing? Means tested AA could mean a little or they'll just pull it. High rate mobility? What about care? DLA is not a given - the form is a nightmare (Two of mine get high rate care, low mobility) and no guarantee of that either.


I'd push for non means tested AA - it's a way for them to wriggle out of giving you anything imo.


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I agree with Donatella - push for a guaranteed, non means tested, meaningful AA


We get DLA - middle rate care/low mobility - it's about £80 a week. It soon goes ! Just paying for sensory integration therapy for example is £70 per week


xx


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Hi,


How do you push for a non means tested AA without it sounding like you're in it for the money money money?!


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I wouldn't worry too much what they think tbh. Raising two children with additional needs is hard going. I have three children, two of whom have autism, amongst other things. All were easy to place babies so no AA here. I've not been able to return to work so you'd need to factor that in - how would you manage financially on one wage?


If they don't come with EHCPs then you're likely to be in for a lengthy battle to get them. You'll have appointments galore - I don't know what their additional needs are but here two are statemented- a minimum six month process, DLA which is a nightmare, one is in special school (in fact all three are in different schools and have been for over 5 years). Now we're having to self fund private EP, private slt and private OT assessments in order to get our daughter the right secondary school. LEA and I are in dispute. Not forgetting the solicitor fees.


What are their identified needs? If they're talking high rate mobility then that's pretty difficult to get.


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Totally agree, I have a BS with autism and and AS with needs as long as your arm. I haven't been able to go back to work. We are having to self fund a boarding school for my BS as he can't cope with the emotional outburts of my AS. Both boys have sooo many appointments and meetings about them/that I have to take them to (although BS's have lessened dramatically now he's 15). Financially it has crippled us as a family. £1000's worth of debt. DLA and carers allowance go no where to meet it. Having said all that, I wouldn't change my family or boys for the world but it takes its toll financially, emotionally and socially. Go in prepared and with open eyes. You can argue that means testing now will mean nothing if you can't work in the future etc...Sorry if I sound negative, I'm not really but I do feel that if you want to do this then you have to get yourself set up.


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No it's fine - I just wasn't aware it was something you could barter in that way. How much should we be asking for? My husband is on a fairly good income (approx 40k) and mine is currently approx 25k.


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We don't get AA as AS was placed at 18 months and we had no idea of difficulties, so others would be better placed to answer that. But I'd really look at how your lifestyle would alter without the 25K. Best of luck.


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I think you need to state that it has to be non means tested. That's key. You have a decent joint income atm. How would your standard of living drop if you weren't able to return to work? Suddenly you're £25k down. Bills, mortgage, additional gas, electricity, water bills. Food, entertainment (cinema costs a fortune), clothes, shoes!


Assume no return to work or at the very most, part time. Where would that leave you?


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We also don't know what will happen in the future with DLA with a likely 'nother term with Tory government... so you're right I think we do need some financial protection there.


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So when they ring to find out our decision later this week I'm going to say something like: we would only be prepared to take on these children on the condition that there is a non means tested Adoption Allowance which protects us as a family if I needed to give up work (£25K) or if the government suddenly decided to reduce DLA/mobility payments. While I would be prepared to stop working if that was required we need some more concrete financial protection. How does that sound?


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"We feel that we can meet these needs of this sibling group but have reservations about the financial implications. Given the likelihood that I will have to at least decrease my hours and most probably not return to work, we feel that a non means tested AA would be applicable in this placement"-that's the route I'd go down.


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That sounds better... Smile has anyone had any experience of getting a non means-tested AA?


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I have one but it was a very difficult situation through the court.

All I can say do not give in and do not adopt if not everything is organised. One of my terms was also that I did not adopt without a diagnosis, so you might press for assessments as well, I got that at the same time.

I was sure he has asd, they assessed and their 'experts' said no asd, ofcourse he did have asd.


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Will it not harm our chances of being able to adopt if we come at them with a list of demands?


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I was told by a very experienced Foster carer that not to be scared, if they've got to matching then they won't want to start again. To be fair they're not demands such as your needs to be able to meet the children's needs. If they can't give you this, then it's not going to be in anyone's interests in the long run.


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We're only in stage 1 but we're going through an independent agency and they are the two children they are really trying hard to advertise because they are harder to place - being siblings AND having additional needs AND being slightly older...


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Should we save our list of wants till further down the process?


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Were you successful in getting an assessment for ASD for your LO Pluto in the end? I think one of ours might be too judging by some of his quirks


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We negotiated a non means tested aa for our adopted former foster child who has v complex needs and it is written into the adop order. It is paid weekly and covers the income we have given up to enable a parent to be at home full time (more or less).

They will have to pay a lot for long term fc if they cant find adoptors so that is your argument . You will save them a fortune over the childrens childhood so be firm in your request.

Also the children should get dla already if they qualify and the higher rate mobility bit is a top up that the child gets from the age of 3 so not sure what they are on about ??


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So you get paid roughly the same amount of money as you did when you worked? Any idea how much they pay foster carers roughly so we can show them in figures how much it would save


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Not exactly . I was already at home as a fc because we have another long term foster child who also has complex needs and requires a carer 24 / 7 . So when we took on our youngest as a fc the plan was always adoption if courts released him so the aa covers my husbands wage as both of us need to be at home. The amount we get wouldnt cover your wage but would go a good way towards it . We could have continued to foster our little one and been better off as we work for an agency but we really wanted to adopt and for complex legal reasons cannot adopt our eldest so were happy to take a hit financially .

Really it is going to be v expensive to keep these children in fc all their childhoods so it is in there interests to get them legally settled and off their books so you are in a strong position. Honestly i hate talking about money in relation to children like these but you have to think that you may never be able to work and you still have to cover all your outgoings in order to give these kiddies a stable future and a good quality of life.

Louie and donatella talk a lot of sense above also and they have the wisdom and experience to see what you should get in place before putting in for your adop order.


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How does it effect pensions etc.? Is that something we could ask for?


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Oh i dont know. We have private pensions anyway as husband was self employed.

As a fc i dont think about it too much as i have zero chance of ever retiring !


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Yes a private assessment for autisme was done, paid by the la. They already had three assessments done, all saying neglect, no autisme etc.I insisted this was autisme (he's severe) and they refused new assessments as they were already done. So than you come into the more expensive assessments for 'difficult cases'. My child was 6 at the time, severely neglected, drugs exposed etc. But I had worked for many years with autistic children and can 'sniff them out' lol.

They told me time after time 'whatever it is it is not autisme', I gave them the benefit of the doubt, it could be neglect etc. But than after a few weeks he improved a lot, everything exept socially, that's a clue.

The assessment was ordered by the judge as I refused to adopt without the diagnosis, and told her I was 100% sure he had autisme, and it turned out that I was right.


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It is hard talking about money in the context of adoption, but you have to- you're not doing it for yourself- you are advocating for these children and for their future.


In reality I expect that you will have to stop working or reduce your hours - I have a child with complex needs and have never returned to work. And £40k really won't be that much when you are caring for two children with complex needs. And the last thing you want or need is to feel financially stretched.


We have had to commission so many private reports for our ad over the years just to get her the support that she needed medically and educationally. We have also funded therapy. We have spent well over £10k to ger these reports/support. And it has been such a relief that financially we have just about been able to do this.


I have a friend who is a foster Carer. She was caring for a baby girl with diagnosed FAS. The baby was meeting all her milestones but the La couldn't find adopters for her given the FAS. They asked my friend to adopt her but financially she couldn't as fostering was her only source of income. She insisted on a generous adoption allowance and in the end they agreed to it.


Word of warning- make sure the allowance is not subject to annual review, but is set in stone in the adoption order.


In reality I expect that these two children will be very hard to place and their social worker will know that there is a strong chance that they may end up in long term foster care, which will be a lot more expensive.


Good luck x


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