End of the road & considering section 20

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It's been years since I was here.

We have been to hell & back & we feel we have now reached the end of the road.

We have had 8 years of violence, aggression & uncontrollable behaviour.

We have been shuffled from pillar to post by children's services/post adoption support/CAMHS & The children's disabilities team with little to no support despite begging for help.

It all peaked on Thursday when AD didn't arrive home from school. She is usually home by 3.45.arrives in a taxi with her escort.

An hour afterwards (& with me beside myself with worry) & after repeated calls & text messages with no reply the deputy head & safeguarding officer calls to say she won't be home. She's made some allegations which were very serious & that social care would be in touch.

S/w finally calls an hour later to say BD will be spending the night at her respite carer & that further talks will happen tomorrow.

We were distraught! Beside ourselves with worry & were being told nothing of what had been said.

She had previously made allegations against us & teachers but never had it gone this far.

I was terrified that they would take my BD despite assurances that there was no concern for her safety.

Friday came & we heard nothing until my BD rang ag lunchtime to say that a police officer & SW were on their way to see her in school.

She was scared... asked me if she would be taken away because of her sister!

It was heart breaking. We tried to reassure her that she should just tell the truth & answer all questions honestly

The police & SW then came to see us.

They explained that AD had made allegations of violence & aggresion & said they had no concerns & that our BD had shown them bruises & scratches which had been inflicted on her by her sister.

They asked us about an incident (which had happened the weekend previous) where AD had attacked BD & OH had to intervene & litterally tear AD off of her sister.

Her history of aggression, violence, previous lies & mental health concerns including attachment were taken into account & the ofgicer said there would be no further action.

We were asked to collect her from school at 3.15 with SW there to support.

Needless to say this went far from smoothly.

We all got kicked, swore at & screamed at. She refused to come home. Said she wanted a new family.. wanted to go to her respite carer to live & hated us all.

More allegations were thrown at us. She was like a child possessed!!

School had never seen behaviour like this before (She has only been at this school for a year after being moved from mainstream)

I het previous school they had gotten used to dealing with lies, thriving & aggression but not in this school. She's an angel here.

It's like a different child.

At around 6pm we finally got her out of school & home despite us gearing for our safety.

The weekend has been awful. With us all walking on eggshells not knowing if/when she will explode again.

My eldest has now said she cannot go on like this. To be honest we have all been saying it for over a year!

Things are getting worse, not better & AD is getting bigger, stronger & able to inflict more harm when she gets violent.

We no longer feel we can parent her safely whilst keeping our other daughter & ourselves safe.

We have to make the difficult choice to ask for her to be accommodated elsewhere.

Don't get me wrong.. this isn't a snap decision. We love her dearly & it breaks my heart to admit defeat.

I've failed as a parent but I cannot do this anymore. My eldest is in her final year at school & facing her GCSE S soon.

It's destroying us.

Has anyone had experience? Can anyone help?

I think we need to ask for section 20 whilst we get her & us some help.

I'm terrified I'm losing my family.

This is the toughest day of my life but I have to do what is best for us all.


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Firstly ((hugs)) - It is really hard to parent children who have been damaged by their experiences before you even met them. I am sure you have done all you can (and far more than most parents ever have to do).

Our daughter made allegations against us and as a result was taken into care on a voluntary basis - it was the right thing for us all as we had been struggling for some time and had previously asked for her to be accommodated. I am slightly surprised, given what you have said, that your daughter has been returned to your care.

Some adoptees are just not able to live in a family and especially as they get bigger and stronger and more hormonal, and its often better for all for them to live elsewhere - but with regular positive contact with yourselves.

Do ask for an assessment of needs and push for s20 if you think that is right for you all - maybe keep a diary to show what daily life is really like.

And finally, make sure you keep looking after yourself....

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Thankyou Bop.

We are all feeling so desperate.

But nobody more than our 15 yr old BD.

She called the SW from school a short time ago & is awaiting a call back.

Her attitude is that after 8 years of this if they won't listen to us then maybe they will listen to her.

We all know what we have to do but that doesn't make it any easier does it.

Can I ask you... how long did it take to have alternative accommodation arranged?

I told them on Friday that I didn't want to bring her home but they backed us into a corner.

My daughters complex medical needs mean she needs specialist care.

Although I cannot live with her under my roof I am not ready to give up on her completely & I'm the only one who can truly understands her medical needs.

Even A&E staff don't understand her rare conditions.

We still want regular contact. Positive contact & support is key as you say!

How does the section 20 work?

I know very little about it.

Only what I can find online & that tends to be when it's suggested by children's services..not the parents.


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Just typed a long reply and lost it - argh.

Short version - s 20 is relatively common for adoptees. There was a thread a few days ago "Abandoning my son" which talks about the same thing - maybe take a look at it.

Sadly SW will try to avoid s20 as its expensive. You might get a better response of your BD complains as they have a duty to protect her, but there is no duty of care towards adopters. Beware that you might get blamed - but remember its nor a reflection on you but of poor understanding and procedures within SW.

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Will take a look at the previous post. X

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What an awful set of circumstances. You MUST protect yourselves and your other child from false allegations and other harm.

We had to make a similar choice, when our AD was 12 having struggled on with increasingly disturbed behaviours, violence and threats. I’d try for a s17, child in need rather than s20 but whatever I’d be absolutely clear she cannot return home.

I would urgently contact www.thePOTATOgroup.org.uk

also contact the frg.org.uk

Who will offer information and support.

You are embarking on a new chapter. Sometimes family life is too hard. Parenting from a distance is often the only way ahead

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We are waiting for children's services to get back to us.

Our AD Is already 'child in need' due to her disabilities.

She recently started fortnightly respite through children's disabilities team, so this is the norm. Will this effect us getting section 20 in place?


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You absolutely have not been a failure as a mother. I am full of admiration for how you have coped so far and you I am absolutely convinced you are doing the right thing in going down the section 20 route. I feel it is too dangerous to continue and put everyone at risk.

I am a fc and a sec 20 means that you still keep full parental responsibility and your child is not subject to a care order. You can therefore still maintain contact etc and she is still your daughter. In fact you may find that you develop a better relationship in time.

Can her respite carer take her until a suitable placement is found? There are fc who specialise in complex needs , medical and otherwise . In fact I am one myself but it may take a while to identify one local to you with the right skills. They will be trained to cope with all aspects of her care so try not to worry.

It is a horrible situation for you all and i feel for you but do not blame yourself. You have done nothing to cause this and must look after yourselves and your bd . X

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Sorry to hear what you are going through Raven, it sounds horrendous.

We placed our daughter back into care under s20 when she was 16.5 years old. She made false allegations ( sexual) against a family member. It ended up in a court case and he was found not guilty. Whilst it became clear she was making allegations to friends when she was staying away from home prior to us putting her in to care, I have a strong suspicion that she made the allegations to SS in order to punish her once we put her under a s20. She claimed to hate us and claimed that we hated her ( we didn't ). We were left for several months before the nature of the allegations we made clear and before we were told who they were against. During this time SSnever listened to us to get a real idea of daughters history with us. Daughter refused us access to reviews. Schoolteachers who knew her were not present at reviews to give their opinions or experience.

Basically SS wrote very simplistic assessments where we were blamed as parents and daughter was presented as suffering due to our over protectiveness and lack of insight into her needs. I expect the foster carers were sold quite a rosey picture of daughter and not made aware of the dangerous character she is. Obviously that works to SSs advantage as they can then dupe foster carers into taking on a child they might have reservations about if they knew all the facts.

When the not guilty verdict came through, within a few weeks SS were asking me to meet up with daughter to reassure her she had a family who loved her as she was going off the rails with them ! Wow, suddenly I'm useful to them, this overprotective, incompetent mother who in their eyes is the cause of daughters problems.

If you can get legal advice I would do so. I would be very wary of SS. Any meetings you have with them try to have someone with you to take minutes.

You have to actively work against any feeling of failing as a parent. SS will put that on you because they are experts in blame shifting. You have to think of all youhave endured up till now and there is no shame in protecting the majority of you family over one individual within your family.

Hope you find a way forward through this. It's a hell of a journey but you can survive it. I so feel for your birth daughter in all this. Our birthkids have suffered greatly

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Well... SW dodged our calls all day & finally resorted to sending over a locum SW to take notes & see what they could offer to help us!

After 8 long years of asking/negging/shouting for help it's too little too late.

We talked about her medical needs...

Adrenal insufficiency/cortisol deficient,

Growth hormone deficiency,



Chiari malformation (brain surgery 2013)

Eating disorder

Chromosone abnormalities

Possible ADD

Propreoception disorder

Learning difficulties

The list goes on & on.....

None of these conditions were known about when we adopted her & we could never have known the impact these things would have had on our lives!

Eight years on ... we're exhausted, tired of waiting for the next melt down or outburst & my eldest daughter doesn't feel happy or safe in her own home.

The SW answer was there is nobody who is able to cater for these needs & that as parents we have a duty of care.

What about my duty of to my eldest & keeping her safe????

He has gone away to discuss with managers our options... We pushed for section 20 .

He seemed to get it... seemed to understand & praised us for all we have dealt with but said there just isn't anywhere for her to go.

I'm not beaten yet... but any idea on how we make them listen to us would be greatly appreciated.


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They WILL say there’s nowhere for DD to go. But they will find it, if they have to.

Use the word ‘safeguarding’ with regards to your older daughter. It seems to make them prick up their ears.

Other than that, evidence everything. Every word of abuse, every punch, meltdown etc.

Write down every interaction with SS, too.

It all becomes a full time job and very very depressing.

Join the Potato Group, many have trodden the S20 route before you and will have lots of friendly and understanding advice.

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Raven, I have no experience to share or advice to offer, but I hope knowing you are not alone is of some comfort

Be kind to yourself, you have done everything you can, you are all being failed. take care

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When we asked for our daughter to be accommodated we were told there was nowhere - but when she made allegations against us, they found somewhere within a few hours.....there are places, but they are reluctant to use them. They may even threaten to charge you with abandonment - its a common threat, but I've not heard of it actually happening, especially given parents who ask for children to be accommodated do not do so lightly and have endured a lot.

((hugs)) for you all xx

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Hugs . Keeping her with you is the cheaper option. If your dd is being violent call the police to keep yourself safe. I always found the police helpful and phoned SW and made referrals. Get a reference number from police so you can evidence her violence.

Dont let SW back you into a cornor you need to protect yourself . Be strong and safe. Parenting from a distant is ok , it does not make you a failure.

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Often children with such complex needs require specialist fcs who generally work for agencies. This is expensive but nowhere near as expensive as her going into a residential placement at the cost of many thousands a week ! You need to argue that if no fc available they need a residential placement. This might encourage them to pull their finger out and get a foster placement sorted asap.

Dont be deterred . As you say your birth daughter needs to be safe as do you . Could the respite carer take her while they get it sorted ?

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Agree that there are places with agencies and in residential so if you push for Section 20 she will be accommodated.

You are exhausted through all this. Too much is being asked of you with too little support. We used Section 20 and also contacted Family Rights Group.

Yes it hurts to separate but we found that our relationship improved and the fact that others now know the issues and complexities does make us feel better.

I agree with other posters ... take notes , call the police, record bruises at the doctors. This helps you in the long term. It is not abandonment. It is family survival.

Hugs to you and your family. We understand.

Johanna xx

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Raven, it’s awful the whole thing is awful. I would deadline eg next Thursday that she needs to go into s20 provision

She’s under CIN and if you can I’d arue she goes to her respite people initially until a longer term option is found.

What’s her education like? Could you make a case for a 52wk boarding provision on an EHCP -?

We have known many desperate dear friends who have been asking for so long and the position was untenable so they took their child to school and explained to school that they wouldn’t be picking them up. The school duly contacted ss and they were found a place. SS ALWAYS say there’s no room, no provision.

Also know families who having had their child arrested again for violence, damage to property, threatening behaviour etc again tell the police that their child can’t come home.

I laughed bitterly when SS explained for my ad Blossom they’d need at least a 2:1 if not 3:1 ratio full time level 5 specialist Carers. They would not support us, sending us away with platitudes and ignoring the harm to our other 2 kids. Most of the time our ‘ratio’ was me to 3 kids, one of those a Blossom!

To move forward ideally you need a crisis meeting set up (for this time next wk?) at the latest and an agreed timetable go ad to move into s20. These are sometimes called adoption support planning meetings.

The frg.org.uk will explain that she should be within striking distance of her school and contact with you should be Promoted.

But you call the shots.

I’m sure ss will lay it on thick that you’re terrible parents, preferring your birth child. They are manipulating toads. Be strong and act. You are Teflon coated and this flows off. You go in there and explain that family life is simply too hard for your AD. That you, your family have a right to a safe life and things cannot continue. You need a date that in eg 7days provision will be agreed and by whom as a managed move is obviously better all round

The ss in my experience might sign up to this.

Then there will still be a mad scramble at the 11th hour as they’ll have planned nothing and hoped you all disappeared magically.

Re the s20.

In essence you are asking a ‘friend’ to look after your child. That ‘friend’ is social care and they’ll appoint someone to do this on their behalf. You hold and retain full parental rights, (something ss forget at times) but the fact remains you hold pr and it’s up to you if she remains in s20. You can by law turn up and get her at any time. She’s your daughter.

Are post adoption aware of all this?

Just one more thing to think about

Re failing your dd

Hm. Ok well, this helped me anyway. I imagine that we were from the other side of the tracks and wealthy. For the leg up our children would benefit from arguably in life we would pack our darlings up to boarding school at around 11. They’d cry. We would cry. But that’s a sacrifice that thousands of people choose for that leg up. Now. My ac does need a chance. Also my other children need a chance. To enable that we need to cope with the sacrifice of seperation in the hope that relevant support/ help/ secondary positive attachments may yet help everyone.

Do you see what I mean? You are providing for your family in the most painful strategic level headed way. Good on you.

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This link about s20 might help you

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Thankyou!! Thankyou everyone for the support & advice. You don't know how much it means.

Once again another day of social workers visiting saying they just don't have the specialist care available & us arguing that they need to find somewhere.

They have gone away to plan a multi-agency meeting.

Coming back Thursday & Friday.

Tomorrow I have plans to make contact with all the organisations recommended to us In hope of finding somebody who can help us & perhaps shed some light on our rights.

At this moment in time we seem to have no rights at all... even our BD has made calls directly to the SW & always told they are unavailable!!

Our crisis is ongoing but we feel more equipped to fight our corner with everyone here having our back!!!


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Just a note that you can always leave a message at the Duty desk or ask to speak or leave a message with the Team leaders of the SW.

It is very frustrating to want to communicate with the SW and be told they are not available but at least this way and also through emails you will have a record that you are more than willing to discuss concerns.

Johanna x

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How are things?

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Hi Madrid

I'm sorry I've not made it onto the boards.

It's been very tough here.

L.A. have been conducting assessment of AD.

We had a visit from disabilities team manager yesterday & the SW conducting assessment.

They have stipulated that all assessments must be completed by Jan 12th.

AD still woth us but we are walking on egg shells & Christmas is looming fast which adds to the anxiety especially when dealing with a child who has an eating disorder.

The purpose of yesterday's visit was to ask us about the sort of placement needed & if we wanted section 20 with SS focussing on positive contact with us to a view that AD would be returning home in weeks/months.

Or.. was it a case that 'tjis journey had finished, she would not be coming home..needed a permanent placement & the courts needed to be involved to grant shared care '

After a bit of research we now See that a section 20 cannot be used in long term placements. Which sadly leaves us with little choice.

Shared care is a new one to us.

We need to understand more about how it works. I have just been reading Mysti' s post & see that she is going through a remarkably similar situation.

We desperately want to stay involved in our daughters life. We most definitely want regular contact, but there is no way that we can live under the same roof.

Things are just awful at the moment.

We have contacted our MP who has made contact with the L.A. & involved south west mental health goverment officials.

Our birth daughter is emotionally broken & it's devastating to see her suffering with such severe anxiety.

The L.A. said that a placement could/should be identified by the middle/end of January.

We are struggling through, desperately hoping we can avoid an emergency placement & knowing that a planned move would be the best way forward for us all if we are to have continued relationships with our AD.

Any advice or experience of shared care arrangements would be greatly appreciated.


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How are things? Any news?

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