The Forgotten Children
Hi James, feel free to post our story on your web site, if our fighting for a change helps just one grandparent, I’ll be so happy, some grandparents must find it hard to talk to people in authority, but they must always remember, firstly, Social Services is run by the government, therefore they are civil servants, they work for US secondly and most important, if a grandparent fights to the best of there ability, and loses, there is no shame in that, they tried their best, and when that child comes in later life and asks what
have you ever done for me? they can say, hand on heart, we did our best. My self and Christine are always here if we can help anybody, get in touch.
3 years ago our grandson was assaulted by either his mother or her boy friend, Social Services didn’t hesitate in putting both children into foster care. we asked Social Services to bring them to us, as we lived next to the sea we thought they would jump at the chance. How wrong we were, so, we started having assessments to become family and friends carers, little did we know that a Social Worker had already begun adoption papers, they held our assessment back for 6 months, then they came to visit, “We’ve come to tell you why you are not getting the kids” we listened, wife in tears, Then she took great pleasure in telling my wife, “they’ll be easy to place” That sentence was
the last straw, I said to the manager “get your bag , get that bag sat over there and get out, and before you go I’ll promise 2 things, I’ll get the kids and then I’ll get your job” and off they went.
No solicitor would touch the case, apart from one. Up to this point all people had read about us, is what had been written by Social Services. I managed to contact the guardian, he came to visit, he was very abrupt, obviously had read Social Services lies, 3 days latter he phoned, “I want to see you both in Bradford in the company of the kids”, so off we went, we spent the afternoon at Alphabet zoo with the guardian looking on. A week went by, the guardian rang, ” I want to see the children in your home” the guardian came, we live on a leisure complex, I asked if he would like a look round he said “I’ve seen enough”.
He stopped the adoption, he spun the case there and then, Social Services were having none of it and started mud slinging, they even made us go to a shrink for an assessment thinking they’d get some dirt on us, after 12 months of court and £10,000, we walked into Bradford crown court, our barrister, a little gem came over, we could see the tears in her eyes, “YOU’VE GOT THE KIDS” Social worker sat there face like thunder I said “remember 12 months ago I promised 2 things, I’ve got number one.( tomorrow, how to get number2)
The next weekend I picked up the children from the foster carers to start their new life with us, driving home my g/d who then was 4 years old said “were getting a new mummy and daddy” I asked her who? “you and grandma silly” my heart melted, after all the fighting, all the tears and sleepless nights I knew myself and my wife had gone into hell, but came back with 2 soles that we snatched from a devil.
Many a person would have left it there, content that they had the kids, but we made a promise, and we intended to keep it, I started a complaints procedure, we got letters back saying nobody had acted improperly, I sent letters back saying we were not satisfied, and took it to another level, you see, a few months ago we were paying £250 per hour for a legal team to fight for us, now the boots on the other foot, it would cost me 37p to send them a boat load of complaints, every department had to read them, refer them and
answer them, until after 14 months we ended up back in Bradford, this time to the Town Hall. In we walked, met by the head councillor, through a door we could see about 8 people sat round a big table, the councillor said “before we go in, remember, you’ve got the children, its all over”, did this clown think I was a muppet?, we’d gone to hell and back and I wanted answers, we went in, 3 councillors, 2 complaints officers from the council, 2 from Social Services, and there she sat, the director of Social Services, they rattled on for an hour or more, excuse after excuse, then it was our turn, tie off, jacket off
sleeves rolled up, we didn’t hold anything back, but every point we put, we backed up with proof, a copy for all of them. The director of Social Services was made to face us and apologise. I was asked for one last comment I said “there’s a lot of good grandparents out there can give kids a loving home, but for the sake of a couple of hundred pounds, you’d rather put them into care. 3 days
later we received their findings, all points in our favour, “the panel would like to thank Mr and Mrs Green for their written and oral submissions and the manner in which they were presented, we further recommend the following improvements.
- Legal entitlement of significant relatives
- Their rights for their opinion to be heard
- A change in family and friends procedure
A Heartening Story
In September 1993. our oldest granddaughter came to stay with us and when we saw that at almost six years of age she weighed only 30 lbs. we decided to apply for custody of her. After a long court battle we eventually received full custody of our granddaughter in March 1998.
We were first contacted on 15 December 1 999. by the social worker in Slough who informed us that they had become involved with a horrific case of abuse concerning our grandchildren and would we be willing to provide a home for them. As we had full custody of our oldest granddaughter we replied that we were more than willing to provide a home for these other children. We were further informed that if we stayed in the background everything would be all right regarding the children. On 10 February 2000 the four children were taken into care.
On 25 May, the Guardian ad Litem arrived in the afternoon to introduce himself and explain his role in the proceedings. He stayed for approximately 3 hours and took no notes. Before leaving he stated he had arranged for the children to come the following day and stay for a short visit. The children duly arrived the next day for a week’s holiday and returned home to their respective carers on 2 June. After their return home contact remained with the children on a weekly basis by telephone, this was arranged through the social worker. It was also arranged at this time that a local social worker would visit us on a regular basis to prepare an assessment for the court case in Slough.
He had a good relationship with the Slough social worker until 7 July 2000, when there was a court hearing and the social worker was changed. The Guardian ad Litem appointed a solicitor to act on behalf of the children and a child psychologist.
Between 30 August and the 2 September the psychologist came to assess my wife, son, his fiancé and myself After these assessments were carried out all contact with the children was cut. We realised at this stage that we required a solicitor in England.
On 8 September at our- request the social worker that had been assigned to the case arrived at our house, introduced herself and outlined what bad been happening as regards the case She stayed for about 2 hours and at no time did she take any notes. I later found out that on leaving my house she went to the local social work department and stopped the assessments being prepared since June.
Court case was held in Uxbridge on Jan 23rd 2001 when it was decided that the two youngest children would be put into care. Since the case we have heard nothing from Slough Social Services about where the children are or if the two older ones are together. We later discovered that we are entitled to view all reports held by the local authority on us but to date all requests have been ignored.
.There was only one person who carried out assessments on the extended family and yet they state the clinical psychologist, guardian ad litem and social worker came independently to the same conclusion. The judge made his decision on the assessments made by all three and in fact marked out praise on the social worker in his summation. We asked through a solicitor in December 2000, for all the papers in the case but only received a copy of the assessments carried out by the psychologist. To date we have requested to see all the reports and assessments held by Slough Social Services but all requests have been ignored. We have now received a complaint form but only after a number of requests were made through the Department of Health. Everything that has been stated we now have documented evidence of these facts.
Taking into account all the solicitor fees, court and travel costs we have paid out approximately £ 18.000.oop but like a lot of grandparents it is not the money. We only wish to know that the children are being well looked after and having access to see the children
If the law was changed to allow grandparents the same rights as parents then the costs of protracted court cases would be less to the tax payer through legal aid costs as a greater number of grandparents would qualify for legal aid. Grandparents may be the only persons who can inform these children in later years about their family and medical history.
Hugh and Margaret Rennie
9 Whitletts Road
Ayr KA8 OJA Tel – 01292 289 658
by Sandra Docherty
Sandra, a Grandparent from West Lothian and her daughter Jan had a fall out a TIFF. It was one week before Christmas 1999 a special time for all families, especially Grans and their and their Grandchildren. Sadly Jan took it as far as stopping her children from seeing their Gran who, as stated in court, was for the past 11 years a loving Gran until the TIFF.
During the next 3 years Sandra was forced to revert to court proceedings because of her daughters determined attitude however, Sandra was always ready to resolve the matter out with court at any time if an agreement or reconciliation could be reached. Alas, Jan dug in deeper making all sorts of allegations towards her mother – none of which were true. Jan also managed to convince Sandra’s only son that his mother was a bad person and that Jan’s story was the true version of events. Sandra now has no family contact with either her own 2 children or her Grandchildren.
I ask you all ‘WHAT MAKES A DAUGHTER DO THIS TO HER MOTHER?’, all I can say is Jan will have to live with herself and her conscience for the rest of her life. Over a TIFF.
Many court appearances took place over the 3 years in question. Sandra’s first solicitor dropped her when it came to the fight. Sandra’s ‘eleventh hour’ solicitor, who is a fighter, tried his heart out for Sandra but pressure from the Sheriff even had him asking Sandra to call it off, but although the court proceedings were proving futile, Sandra was adamant, they fought on. The Sheriffs attitude to Sandra’s case was ‘Grandparents have no rights at all. (Prejudgement). Her solicitor was not given a chance to bring in solid witnesses to prove that her daughter was telling lies about her. It all came down to Jan’s solicitor’s cunning ploy, to state that the Grandchildren wanted no more to do with their Gran – they simply did not want to see her any more. WHY? Why would 2 young children who, as proven in court had a loving, caring relationship with their Grandmother, suddenly not want to see her anymore – was there something here that the Sheriff was not picking up on. Can children of 10 and 7 (their ages at the time their ALIENATION took place) really all of a sudden, decide a person is bad for them? Or are they being brainwashed into thinking this by another party? These children, I believe, are pawns in a game. They are being used as ‘power tools’ in a game their parents are trying to win.
It was proven in court that Sandra was a loving Grandparent and that the separation from her Grandchildren and herself started because of a TIFF between herself and her daughter Jan. The problem therefore is between mother and daughter not Grandmother and Grandchildren.
Sandra wants everyone now to know how she feels. This is worse than a death for her. She is grieving for 2 little girls who live so nearby her but she is unable to hold them, give them a cuddle, tell them she loves them – not even by letter (the Sheriff would not even allow that) they are ‘so near to her – and yet so far away’. “No contact” as spoken by the Sheriff, means exactly that, no birthday cards, no Christmas presents, no phone calls – NOTHING! His summing up comments were, [Avizandum following parties submissions],( whatever that means), the sheriff did however note that he would be awarding no award of contact and went on to say, that, “what Mrs. Docherty had done to upset the children in raising this action was nothing short of a disgrace.”
If this so called “wise man” (the Sheriff) had really been wise surely he would have saw through this charade and told mother and daughter to resolve their TIFF for the sake of the children. Families should be brought together by people like himself, not torn further apart. HE REMOVED THE PERSON, NOT THE PROBLEM.
Although Sandra’s hearts broken she lives for the day when, hopefully her Grandchildren will be old enough to decide for themselves if they want contact with their Grandmother. And I have no doubt that day will come. Until then she resolves herself to commit her time to helping other Grandparents out there who are going through much the same as she has been through, and with her charity work for Grandparents Apart Self Help Groups she will push for the rights that all Grandparents should have in this world ( if no other reasons involved) the right of contact, not by the whim of another.
Hannah’s daughter Jill had just come out of prison serving 3 years for shoplifting and drugs. Jill’s daughter Jenny had been living with Hannah her Granny for 4 years and was set in her ways with friends at school who knew nothing about her mothers past life.
Jill decided she wanted Jenny back and Hannah was horrified as Jill had moved back to her old haunts.
Hannah contacted Social Services who told her they did not want to know, then she contacted a lawyer who started custody proceedings and lost costing her £8000,oop
Jill kept custody by saying she had learnt her lesson.
Hannah contacted Grandparents Apart Self Help Group Scotland and went to one of their meetings, pouring her heart out to the group she found a great comfort in knowing there was other people to support her and give her a friendly ear and a cup of tea, and to realise they were not only a support group but are trying to do something about it. Hannah has been a stout member ever since trying to change the law to give grandparents the rights they so deserve.
She has been to the Scottish Parliament to lobby and hand in petitions and the social life is pretty good too dances, race nights, karaoke nights, keeping herself really busy giving her a sense of worthwhile knowing she is doing something about it, with really dedicated mates, she finds when she is down one of the gang is there to help.
Jenny is Still with Jill and the reports are not to good, Hannah is standing up to be counted and is determined to get grandparents rights.
Jim & Jean
Grandparents Jim and Jean were horrified to find that when their daughter fell out with them and told them they could not see their grandchildren.
They thought the tiff would blow over and she would come round but alas she stuck to her guns and the worse thing about it she had the law on her side.
Jim investigated to see what rights he had and was devastated to find he had literary no rights at all, and that grandparents had went to court and spent thousands of pounds of their nest egg with no results, they were broken hearted.
Jean saw an advert in a local newspaper and called the helpline Grandparents Apart Self Help Group Glasgow and went along to one of their surgeries staffed by volunteers who have undergone the same heartbreak and are dedicated to helping others experiencing the same problems.
The Group formulated a letter to send to Jim and Jeans daughter inviting her to attend a mediation session, she did and with the help of the group mediator reached an agreement and realised things had got out of hand, glad of the chance of intervention they are now a happy family again avoiding the trauma of going through courts that harms children and makes the problem worse, where children are used as weapons to get at one another, brainwashing the children for their own gratification, thankfully the daughter had the good sense to realise this and Jim and Jean realised the futility of further arguments.