Knowing They’re OK: Why contact needs to change for the better.
V, a woman working with Pause, shares her experience of contact and working with Pause to make the case for a better system of contact arrangements.
My experiences of contact arrangements have been positive and negative. With my older child, they have been positive. She understands a lot and we can communicate as she is in long term foster carer and we still see each other. With my younger children, it has been negative, as they didn’t understand what was happening. Social workers told them information in an age-appropriate way, but they always asked me for answers as they wanted to come home because they didn’t know what was happening. One of my children was showing signs of emotional distress around not being at home with me – this was hard for both of us. I was advised to walk away from her so the foster carer could settle her. Relationships with children are always important, so children know and understand their identity. We want our children to know that they are loved wanted and missed.
“The system needs to change for the better as the current system is not working. Not everyone receives their yearly contact – I am one of them and this is heartbreaking.”
The system needs to change for the better as the current system is not working. Not everyone receives their yearly contact – I am one of them and this is heartbreaking. Contact is our only connection with our children until they are at an age when they can contact us again. Yes, we wish things had happened differently, but we still deserve this communication with our children. They are looked after children – contact needs to change to six times a year. Currently, it is not good enough for parents or children. I am lucky I get contact with my one of my children seven times a year, recently this has meant using FaceTime on the months that we don’t have face to face, but my oldest child still craves to see me on a weekly basis as that was what happened was before the final hearing. This change was hard for her to understand, she was 12 years old at the time.
“I know that things will never change for me as my case is over, but it is time to make changes for other parents going through this”.
Working with Pause on the Relationships with Children report, I was able to talk and have people listen to me. My voice being heard and written down to become part of this will hopefully show that birth parents matter too. Unfortunately, at the moment, it feels like we don’t once the final hearing is over. No one listens to us anymore. When we ask about our letterbox yearly contact, we just get told the social workers have not received them. This is heartbreaking to hear – to think that we are pushed aside because the adoption of our children has been granted.
I was very eager to work with Pause on the report, as the system and behaviour around contact need to change. I know that things will never change for me as my case is over, but it is time to make changes for other parents going through this.
V, women working with Pause.
Pause’s work on Relationships with Children was launched this month with the publication of the report Knowing They’re OK. You can find out more about the work here and by the following Pause on Twitter @PauseOrg and by using the hashtag #KnowingTheyreOK
The report sets out a vision for a system in which contact arrangements are positive experiences, for birth mothers and their children. It includes wider recommendations, including a statutory duty for post-removal support coupled with mandatory data collection about contact arrangements to measure and support better outcomes.
A special thank you to V and all the other women who supported this work by sharing their experience and insight. Views are the authors own.
If you have any questions or would like more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org