I spoke with James (name changed) about his Mum wanting contact on his birthday and his immediate response was no.
Not just a no but a rather fiercely worded no with knobs on. I told him I was in an awkward situation as they social worker was keen for the contact to go ahead.
He asked to talk to his social worker himself. So he called and got through straight away. He explained, politely, that he didn’t want to see Mum and that it was his personal choice. He said that Mum thought she could dip in and out of his life when it suited her but she couldn’t.
James also said that if she was desperate to see him the why hadn’t she started rehab rather than just disappearing.
The conversation finished with James stating that he already had arrangements for his birthday and he didn’t see why they should be changed.
The following day, after he had left for school, I received a call from the social worker. She said she was concerned by James’ attitude about seeing Mum and asked if I had played any part in his decision.
I said, firmly, that the decision was his and his alone and that I was unhappy at the insinuation that I was trying to convince James not to see his Mum. I pointed out that I had always encouraged James to maintain contact with his Mum but that any decision was his.
She then started to back pedal slightly and say that she knew that I only had James’ best interests at heart but she wanted to emphasise that family contact was important.
I pointed out that I had been involved in Fostering for many years and that I knew the importance of family contact, however I also knew that forcing a young man into having contact with a parent they really didn’t want to see was also an unhealthy stance to take.
She ended the conversation saying that she would talk to her manager and get back to me.
Social Worker Blog
I then called my supervising social worker and updated them on the events. Apparently James’ social worker’s manager had called them to discuss the placement and that old chestnut of being too ‘attached’ came up. I don’t know how people think that you don’t become attached to a young person you are caring for 24/7.
In fact I would be concerned if a carer wasn’t attached to their placements. My supervising social worker said that they had told the manager that I was far too experienced to be accused of being too attached and that James was more than capable of speaking his own mind.
When James got home he asked, straight away, if Id spoken to his social worker and I told him what had been discussed. He wasn’t happy. He thought that his view was being ignored. He didn’t want to see his Mum and that was his decision and that he wouldn’t be changing it.
It was an awkward situation and I lay in bed, that night, wondering if I had dealt with it correctly. But James wasn’t 5 he was nearly 15 and had his own mind.