Life story work
Life Story Work is the final gift any parent can give to a child. This work will set out why the family have been separated and give the child information about their birth family, some of which can only be given by a parent. Not only is this information good for the child's emotional wellbeing and sense of identity it can also be very therapeutic for the parent.
Most of our parents would find it difficult, if not impossible to complete this work with the social worker who they feel have removed their child from them. Having this work done by an independent advocacy agency means we can be flexible and tailor the work to the parents specific needs. Working holistically allows us to get the best outcome for parent and child.
Most professionals/support disappears when the final order has been made in court. The support follows the children not the parents. This leaves the parent very vulnerable, isolated and bereft with little or no support.
From our experience a high number of parents will go onto to have further children and It is not unusual for the parent to become pregnant again at the point professionals and support disengage with them. We feel support at this point is crucial in helping to prevent the cycle of further pregnancies. As part of life story work we can support the parent to address issues relating to their own childhood, past history issues and other vulnerabilities that contributed to the removal of their child/children.
If the parent is not supported to deal with these issues and becomes pregnant again quickly, the Court process will start again. As so little time has passed between pregnancies in most cases not enough has changed and the next child will also be adopted.
One parent who we supported said the following about the experience:
“My advocate has helped me to understand concerns and the things that I need help with. I needed counselling and I have that now. I needed a support worker and I have that now. I needed to separate from my husband and I am divorcing him now. I needed a safe place to make friends and I have that now through the parents group. I have been on courses and training, worked with a dietician and I am much more confident.
All of these things came up at every court hearing. Social workers and judges said the things I needed to do but because I could not read the reports and I had no one to help me to make referrals I did not do them.
As soon as my children were adopted and the court finished, the solicitors and the social worker stopped working with me so I had no help to find these things that could support me. My advocate helped me to find them and I have always worked with everyone I have been referred to.
If I had this help during my first court case then I may have been able to keep my children but instead when I had me next baby it was removed at birth as I had not completed my work. The social worker told the judge I had not done anything since my last child was adopted but they did not tell the judge that they had not helped me get the support that I needed. It sounded like I could not be bothered.”