Thursday, June 30, 2005

Is this really the end?

There’s just one and a half days to go till the holidays. Our plans are still rather fluid, not on account of whether we do or whether we don’t have the children with us, but just where we fancy heading off to. Shona is being released on Friday. “Released” sounds like she has been in prison, though I suppose to some extent it has been like that for her, not imprisonment of the body so much as the mind. The children return home tomorrow.

Joe saw Shona earlier this week, and I have seen her twice this week. We both agree that she doesn’t look capable of dealing with the children. I know that she is desperate to be home and have them, but it is the beginning of the school holiday. Under normal circumstances school holidays are tough for parents and Shona doesn’t live under normal circumstances.

Much as we both hate to admit it, we think the children will be back in our care. Joe gives Shona 36 hours to discover she is not coping. I am a little more optimistic but not settling on a time-scale!

What we are both agreed on is the appalling lack of involvement by the social services while we have had them. Nine weeks and they have visited twice. The first time was because we made jokes over the phone about chopping the children up and putting them into pies and them being none the wiser, or them discovering bones under the patio ten years down the line belonging to Patrick and Shannon. They came racing round then to check us out. The next time was seven weeks later to tell us that there would be an assessment towards the end of the “fourth week” of looking after them! Private agreements for looking after children were limited to four weeks! She definitely went pale when we told her we were into week seven! Her promised visit of the supervisor in the next couple of days didn’t happen! The only word that readily comes to mind is incompetent.

Maybe we just live in a society where you need to phone someone. You need to show that you are struggling in some way before they call out the lifeboat. If you don’t call, they assume you don’t need help, that things are fine. They don’t seem to take the initiative and come around. That is appalling when real abuse is going on and the social work should have known and didn’t. I assume that Patrick and Shannon are on an “at risk” register because of Shona’s mental health, but if they are they have done very little to check that the children are not at risk with us.

We are also both appalled that the social work have not talked to us about what we think about the children returning home, or shared with us a Plan B if things go pear-shaped in the 36 hours. Do we assume that they are assuming that they come back to us? There is no “What if?” in place where a “What if?” looks inevitable.

We both need a break. Nine weeks was hard work. We need to be looking after ourselves too or we will be no use looking after anyone else. Where is the line drawn between what is selfish and what is sensible?

No comments: