Friday, 10 May 2013

Shared responsibility

One of the frustrations we've found of caring for a child who's not our own is how many other people's advice we have to take. It's essentially to cover our backs, as if a social worker or health visitor mentioned something to us, we used our judgement and chose not to follow it up and Jack-Jack then became seriously ill or injured, we could be liable. A good example of this is the fact that we've taken Jack-Jack to the GP five times since he started living with us, and he's been to the out of hours GP twice. Thinking of the reasons, if he was our own child we'd have made perhaps one of these visits at a push. It's almost embarrassing - we know the GP isn't going to do anything for run of the mill things like D&V or chicken pox, and we find ourselves apologising as we go in and saying things like "We know there's nothing you can do, but his social worker wanted us to bring him." When he's had to miss contact due to illness, it's almost like he's an employee needing to get a fit note to cover his absence!

During his 9-12 month check, the health visitor was shocked that we don't take him to any toddler groups, wrote lots of notes in her notepad and suggested that we start going. This isn't really a suggestion. Whilst she was here, we explained our reasoning for not going (the timing of local groups doesn't fit in easily with contact, Jack-Jack is too tired to do anything other than contact on those days, we give him other valuable experiences on days we have together like going to soft play, on the train, to restaurants, swimming etc.) but she didn't agree with us. The notes are sent to his social worker stating what has been suggested to us, so we don't really have a choice. If he was our child, we could listen to the suggestions and advice, and make our own decisions on what was best for both Jack-Jack, and us as a family.

Whilst Jack-Jack is the only child in our family this is sometimes frustrating, but manageable. Once we start adding another foster child or two (and then later on birth/adopted children) into the mix, we can imagine the number of hoops we need to jump through might start to get rather more complicated. Another child adds not only their opinion to take into account, but another social worker, another health visitor, sessional workers, independent reviewing officer, court-appointed guardian etc. and I'm sure you can't always please everyone!

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