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Adoption Leave & work/home- Advice needed

LAdopt9 March 23, 2023 19:42


My partner and I are on stage two of adoption and have been asked by our social worker who is taking the leave. My partner and I are both females and our workplaces both offer the basic Adoption Leave.

Our social worker asked who would take the leave, we then said we'd split this equally (6 months each) so we both get time with the child. Our social worker said ideally it should be one person as this could be confusing for the child.

I work at home predominantly (37 hours Monday to Friday) and I go into the office 1 day a week. My partner works 40 hours, Monday to Friday but some Saturdays. She doesn't have an office and has to work at home.

So our social worker said what will we do after the adoption leave, we said it obviously depends on the age of the child as they may be at school. Our social worker asked us to hypothetically think of the child as a 2 year old not at school. I advised I could still care for the child as I am working, as my workplace is flexible so e.g. I can watch a film and type. The social worker said this would never work, as the child would want the attention on them 24/7. The social worker also asked what my partner would do, as she is on calls all day at work. We advised that she could work upstairs in the bedroom, but the social worker advised that this would be even worse as the child would feel neglected not being able to speak to their other mother, despite her being in the house.

We asked for their advice as we felt stuck and they did not say anything helpful just that I could go to the office everyday and my partner could give up her job even though they told her to get a permanent job a few months ago.

Does anybody have any advice for us, as we do not know how to solve this predicament?

Edited 23/03/2023
me3 March 23, 2023 21:33

I agree you absolutely cant expect to work from home and have a toddler/child there let alone a traumatised one, the attention needed is 100%, even over a year in it is hard enough to get to cook tea with a 2 year old underfoot let alone anything else. Its really full on, they dont sit for a film for example. You need to think about cutting the workload or childcare long term? A year in to placement my daughter is very happy in preschool mornings so 9-1 and adopted children get 15 hours free so thats a possibility. Once in school there is after school care, our school would do 8-4.30 for example. So a positive thing to do may be to look at your local preschool/nursery/schools? Id also agree with them that you dont want to do 6 months then 6 months as they need so much a routine and to know what is happening and you need to think long term about it, can you both cut hours or something, wait for placement till savings are stronger for example? Maybe one of you take a year off and whoever is working at home will still get to see a real lot of you both, lunch together etc, thats really good, and you could see where you are at as you go forward? its really annoying how jobs just aren't set up for parents at all - im finding it really annoying as looking for jobs and they all seem to have ridiculous hours that don't fit with children at all! You also have to think about the school holidays - a nightmare!

Safia March 24, 2023 13:19

I’ve known of people who’ve split the leave in the way you’ve suggested and it might work if the other one is going to be around too when not on leave. However what the previous poster says is true - you cannot be working and looking after your newly placed child. Whilst this may be fine for a securely attached child who has been with you from birth it absolutely would not for a newly placed child of whatever age. School aged adopted children often need a period at home to settle in before starting school and the same applies for nursery - it is likely to be a while before your child is ready to start. The more time you are able to give them completely focussed on them and available to meet their needs at the beginning the quicker this is likely to happen. So you do need to rethink your arrangements both long and short term. I’m sure you’ll find a way that works for you all. On the plus side I think having parents who work from home can be a real benefit to children as they see them intermittently throughout the day and they can share the school run etc. So they can be much more closely involved in their lives in lots of ways

LAdopt9 March 24, 2023 21:05

Thanks both for the advice. Is it safe to say that one of us is to take the leave (probably my partner) as she has no choice but to work from home. Then after the leave 6-12 months, say the child is settled.. Then for her to go down to part time hours to care for the child while they're at preschool/school and I work full time in the office (so that I don't confuse the child or tease them with the fact I'm at home and I can't pay 24/7 attention on them).

Does this sound like a plan that my social worker and the courts would be happy with?

me3 March 24, 2023 21:35

Yes that sounds about right! Its defo a lot to think about and of course they aren't young for long, time flies!.

Serrakunda27 March 25, 2023 14:42


working at home with a baby/toddler would not be acceptable to an employer anyway.

And ask anyone who was forced into it during lockdown and they will tell you how hard it was. My son was 16 so not issue for me but I felt incredibly sorry for people trying to do meetings with a toddler hanging off them or a screaming baby, just not possible long term.

I don’t think splitting the adoption leave is a definite no, lots of people do it now but it might be better to play that by ear and see how your future child settles.

I don’t think one of you WFH is a complete no no either. The parent doing the primary care will be taking the child out - walks, play groups etc, sharing lunch hour would give an opportunity to have lunch, maybe a tea break in the afternoon etc - younwould have to be disciplined about going up to the office, closing the door, not being tempted to pop down for 5 minutes etc.

With more people working whf permanently, SWs will have to adapt. In any case, your SW is not the child’s SW - ifewho may have different views, and SWs will not be in your life forvever, Once you have your AO what you do is up to you.

As a single adopter I was clear that because of work issues and childcare I was looking for a school age child. This was fine and I was very popular with children’s SWs. If you arent fussed about the age of the child you could go down this route. My son was in school 5 weeks after he came home,

Person April 10, 2023 11:36

Hi LAdopt9, we had similar questions and proposals before the placement of our little one.

We had hoped to split Shared Parental Leave so we had:

  • 3 months together then
  • 3 months Parent A off, Parent B at work then
  • 6 months Parent B off (3 SPL + 3 unpaid), Parent A at work

We had caveated our plan that it was subject to good attachment and needs of our child. Our employers were happy with this, and our social worker was to begin with, but closer to panel we were told (for the first time) "one consistent parent" was required. When we probed a little, it seemed to be lack of precedent rather than any other particular reason.

In the end, we did 3 months together - both SPL, followed by one of us being off for the next 9 months - 6 months SPL and 3 months unpaid.

We really valued having a good chunk together at the beginning whilst we got our heads round being parents and a new family. It also meant it was easier to trial and error bits of the routine (our little one came with zero routine!) or ask each other their opinion (constantly!). It also meant we could have a bit of time to ourselves as we split cooking/library/swimming/bedtime duties etc. We were lucky as our little one has really good attachment to us both from that period of intense funneling together, but we know it wouldn't be like that for everyone.

We are potentially having our little one's younger sibling placed with us soon, a year later. Because of the tight timescales, the LA seemed more receptive to a slightly more flexible Leave plan. We are hoping to have some time at the beginning again together, and then make use of accrued holidays and SPL to make up at least a year's leave.

It was slightly frustrating planning for a hypothetical child the first time round, but we now understand the social workers were making sure we didn't take on too much, or mean we were tied to an inflexible plan. It's a tricky one to balance - of course you'll prioritise your child's needs over work - however, work is a vital part of being able to afford to look after your child! Ultimately, we had to make sure the social workers were happy with our plan and show we're receptive to their support and expertise. We still think just because there's a different way of doing something doesn't make it wrong, but also concede that we are not professionals in this field.

Best of luck with everything, LAdopt9


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