Turned Down by Poor Referees

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In the summer, we were turned down by an agency that we used because of the negative referees we got from my wife's former partner and step son. Although they have not stated that this is who the referee's were from, it does not take a magician to guess.

The way we have been handled by the agency was simply appalling. We had just completed all of our worksheets when they contacted my wife and requested a meeting where it was explained that this was a meeting just for her to discuss a few things in relation to the references received.

I was told by the Social Worker that I was not required in this meeting. Reluctantly, I did not attend.

The first thing that the Social Worker's manager said to my wife in the meeting was 'to discuss why they were not moving us to stage 1'. Ours was a joint adoption, not a singular one so I should have been informed that we were being rejected to. My wife to be told that straight away with no defence was shocked, heartbroken and it is ridiculous as to why I was not called into that meeting as well.

It took me 6 weeks, to finally get a meeting with them to discuss as to why I wasn't involved in it and try to get some answers as to why they came to that decision. I didn't get any relative answers to be honest and it has left us heartbroken. I eventually got an apology that it could have been handled better. Do these Social Workers not realise that the decisions they come to effect people's lives???

We have no idea what has been written in these references, the agency won't tell us due to confidentiality but my wife hasn't been involved with her ex for over 7 - 8 years.

We believe that this has completely destroyed our chances of being adoptive parents and it is so upsetting especially as we do not know what has been written. How can we defend ourselves when we don't know what we are defending?

I don't know what we will do now to be honest as we know that if we contacted other agencies, they will contact our original agency and be provided with the information that they received.

I hope that no one will go through the experiences that we did as we believe that our chances have now gone.

34 users have supported this.

There is a similar thread on here from the past week with similar issues. Perhaps have a look. (in adoptors section, entitled 'referees'). Not exactly the same but some ideas about how to seek information about referee content.

13 users have supported this.

This is what is mentioned in our LAs letters to referees, if that helps. It shows you CAN access your references, even though the LA will try to prevent it Wink

We are asking you to provide information to us in confidence to help us consider the suitability of prospective adoptive parents. It is important that you feel able to express your views fully and honestly, so the applicants will not be told what you have said. However, people whose applications are turned down have the right to be told the reasons for the decision and ultimately could seek a review of the local authority’s decision by a court. X Council will not disclose information given in confidence by a referee unless ordered by a court to do so. Before any such order is made, the Council will seek to persuade the court that it is against public interest for information provided in confidence to be disclosed. We will inform you if disclosure of your reference is ordered by the court.

15 users have supported this.

When I first approached an LA many years ago I asked about referees as I have a friend with an ex who hates the fact her life has moved on where his has not and he gave a "made up" bad reference to her when she applied to adopt and his reference stopped her whole adoption process. I therefore asked the LA what happens if someone gives a reference about us which stopped our process too, would we find out what was said in case what was said was simply a misunderstanding on that person's part and not actual truth? The LA said we would not be told due to "data protection/confidentiality" so I asked "you mean that someone who is misinformed could say something that stops our whole process and thereby devastates our life and we would never be told why or given a chance to correct the information?" the LA said "yes".

Fortunately, in our case, we have no ex partners and our references were all fine but I did ask our current SW how she dealt with negative references from ex-partners etc and she said she would try to evaluate them for what they are, see if she could get some evidence to "back up" any accusation as she knows that ex-partners are not always amicable . There must be other agencies with SWs who are as fair minded as ours and so I think you could still approach other agencies, maybe warn them that something negative has been said but you do not know what it is but you wondered if they would evaluate it and see if whatever was said was an "issue" for them as well.

9 users have supported this.

My wife received an "indifferent" reference from her former employer (who initially supported her adoption plans and then was very discriminatory when she needed time off to attend SW meetings) stating my wife showed a high degree of stress and anxiety at work which worried her about my wife's ability to look after a child. It basically put our whole process on hold for a year while my wife attended counselling (counsellor didn't know why she'd been referred after her second session but she attended all five!). We spent a whole year on hold for the sake of one out of ??? references. I'd even asked when we were told that the agency would request references what would happen if one out of many was negative? I was told that if the majority were positive and one (possibly vexatious or malicious)was negative then they would possibly disregard that one! They didn't and we suffered. They didn't reveal who'd written the reference but we had a good idea due to the harassment my wife suffered from her employer.

1 user has supported this.