Applying for a Passport for a child under a Special Guardianship Order

When you have a special guardianship order for a child, applying for their passport can be a lot more challenging than applying for a passport for your own child. Hopefully, by sharing my experience it will help you to have a smoother process than I did.

We are going on holiday soon and 

I had to renew a couple of our passports, but for Summer we are applying for her first passport. We booked our holiday in April, and started the passport applications in April. As her special guardians, I knew it was not going to be so straight forward, so I read as much information as I could from other guardian experiences. After reading lots of advice and tips I rang the passport office and asked for their 

advice.

Confident I had everything prepared, and with the advice from the passport office, I sent her passport application off, along with her birth certificate, her birth mother's birth certificate, and the court documents proving we were granted full legal guardianship.

After a couple of week's, we received a letter requesting Summer's grandmother birth certificate. This is not what we were originally advised and this is when we hit a brick wall.

Unfortunately, 18 months ago 

Summer's mum

had disappeared without a word to us, no warning, and no way to make contact with her. After speaking to the passport office to explain this, they gave me some advice on how to find out and get a birth certificate for Summer's grandmother.  So with this advice, and with a name from Summer's mum's birth certificate, I started ringing around registry offices to try track down the right one. Some were very helpful, others not so helpful. As we only had the grandmother's full name, and no Date of Birth, this is what caused us the biggest challenge. One registry office had two with the exact name, but very different birth dates, and I had no clue how old Summer's grandmother was.  After a very frustrating week, I contacted the social services to ask for their help, to try and contact Summer's mum, but they explained as the case was closed, they cannot help and explained I would need to hire a solicitor to track her down. 

Panic ensued, how much would this cost, how long would it take. 

I rang the passport office once more, and this time I spoke to someone who was definitely more clued up, and she suggested that I do the paternal route - I get Summer's dad's birth certificate, and paternal grandmother's and to return those. We also need the details of the paternal great grandparents full details in order to obtain Summer's paternal grandmother birth certificate - are you lost yet? it's complicated.  Anyhow hubby rang his ex-mother in law who helped us with this information, and shortly after all the birth certificates were ordered.

They were sent off, and within a week.....  We got Summer's birth certificate! Phew. O

verall from start to finish it took approx. 10 weeks.

If you are reading this and wondering why we didn't get the paternal route first, this was because when we spoke to the first lady at the passport office, she said as the grandparents weren't married it wouldn't work, so she advised we have to get the maternal grandparents birth certificates - however, after ringing the passport office at a later date, I spoke to a different lady who told us differently.  A little frustrated we weren't given this information to begin with, but it is sorted now, and that is the main thing.

And Summer is super excited to be going on holiday.

2 Years on Since Becoming Guardian's


Just 5 months old, her hair hadn't grown yet, she had lovely blue eyes, a big smile and she was very close to her foster carer. She was a baby who ended up in foster care near the start of her life, no fault of her own, just her parents couldn't or wouldn't put her needs in front of their own, she is my baby step-granddaughter.

It's been 2 years since our little princess came to live with us, the transition from living with her foster carer to moving in with us was a slow process. We had to go spend time with her each day, slowly handing her over to come live with us, her new home, her now home, her forever home.


Although we are her grandparents, she's embraced and accepted us fully, our love, our commitment, and our family. She's changed our lives, it has been hard along the way, different and more complicated than it was bringing our boys up, but every day and every time I see her beautiful face, her infectious smile, it melts away any problems, she is worth it.

Her personality is strong, she is a force of nature, she won't be left out, she makes sure she is heard, and she is one determined little girl - she is also very bright and giving.

She tells us how much she loves me and hubby, she clings to us with pure love, she tells me "mummy you are my best friend". She refuses to call me nanny, her choice, and I won't make her feel bad for that, if she wants to call me mummy and hubby daddy, then she can - simple as that.

It's not just my hubby and my heart she has in her grasp, she's also stole her three uncles hearts, our three boys. Each one of the boys has a special and close relationship with her and I love seeing it - I feel lucky and I feel blessed. With Jacob, closest in age, they play and fight like siblings, they laugh and the cry. Then with Lewis a few years older, but his soft nature she warms to, he plays with her, he gives her piggy back rides, they laugh, lots of laughter. Then there is Liam, the oldest, a teenager, but she has him wrapped around her little fingers, he spends time with her, he gives her attention, he drinks her pretend cup of teas she makes, and they cuddle; and she tells each one she loves them. 

They would do anything for her and she looks out for them, she misses them when they are not here and at school, she bosses them around, but she adores each one, she sees them as her three brothers, and that is what they are, metaphorically.

Yes, we are not your typical family unit, but you wouldn't notice it on the outside, no-one does, they see 4 children, growing up together in a happy and loved house.

I feel very lucky.





Cuddles



How important are cuddles with a child? Is it one of the most important things you can do with your child? 


Research on infant attachment and bonding recognises cuddles are critical to a child's development, and maintaining that bonding helps build important neural pathways in the brain, as there are hormones released from the baby when you cuddle them and that's why when they are crying and you cuddle them and they soothe, they're calm and that's why it's so important. It also gives infants a sense of security and trust.


For all three of my boys I cuddle them as much as possible, because I want to hold on to them as much as possible, to be close to them and to show that I am and always will be there for them, that I love them. So when my baby step-grand-daughter came to live with us when she was 5 months old, I knew what I had to do to help her settle in, to help her adjust to the change from going from her birth mum, to her foster mum, to me. She had been through a lot already, in her short time, from one person to another, from one attachment to another, and all I wanted was to grab hold of her and say (and show) this is me, I am here to stay and I will not let go.  So for me it was simple (I hoped), cuddles! Although I did have the fear that she would not be a cuddly baby; maybe she won't like cuddles, maybe she will be one that pushes you away and just wants her space. Either way I was going to try and the best way I knew was to take hold of her and keep hold of her. 


Many times over the years I have heard people say: "boys are much more cuddlier than girls"... and all three of my boys are very cuddly and affectionate boys, which I adore.  Then my baby granddaughter came to live with us, and we soon found that she loves her cuddles just as much as the boys.. her favourite word is "cuddles". She will often sit with me just cuddling up for as long as we can, quiet, but so many unspoken words pass through the embrace. It worked, cuddles brought us together, it secured a special bond, it settled her, made her one of us, made her feel secure.


When Summer did first come to us, I held on to her as much as she would allow, which was a lot (I still do), and through cuddles we built a bond, one that she trusts me, she loves me, she accepted me- as I do with her. A special bond, through love, echoed through cuddles, we have a close and loving connection, one that I will cherish, and for that I feel extremely lucky.


An infant is there to be cuddled.






She's gone

Nearly one month ago we heard heart breaking news for Summer, her Mum had left! When we first heard the rumours that Summer's mum was moving away, very far away - my first natural thought was surely not, surely she would not leave her daughter and walk out of her life, unfortunately that silent thought of hope was short-lived. 

Since Summer came to live with us over a year ago now, Summer's Mum and Dad (my step-son) made an effort seeing Summer on a weekly basis, and my husband and I quickly came to the positive conclusion that Summer's Mum will be a big and important part of her life, as a parent should be - and this is what we wanted for Summer, for Summer to know her mum was there and that she kept that relationship alive and strong, Summer deserves that - any child deserves that. Unfortunately a couple of months ago Summer's parents relationship broke down and everything changed for the worse.


Then she was gone - she just went, without one single word to us, she never spoke to us about it, never asked to see Summer, she just left.

I am scared for Summer, fortunately she is too young to realise anything is amiss, but what will this mean to her when she is older, how will this affect her? Her Mum walked away and left her, her mum is not in her life -will she feel abandoned? We will of course answer any questions Summer has, but instead of pointing the blame, we will keep it impartial  'Your Mum loves you very much, and she wants to be here, but she cannot' - As disappointed I am with Summer's Mum, I will put all the angry and disgust aside and protect Summer and her feelings as much as possible.


My only consolation 
is how happy and settled Summer is with us, how close she is to not only me and my hubby but also to her three uncles, my three sons - all 4 of them growing up together; they play together, they bond together, they share love together, share laughter together - they are more like siblings rather than 3 uncles and their niece and Summer adores each one of them - as they adore her just as much. 

When she does finally start to ask the inevitable questions, she will come to with us with those questions full of love, full of security - she is one with us, and hopefully with all this she has from us, the answers won't cause her to much pain. We will always be there for her, with open arms, and an open heart, I will share those tears with her, I will wipe those tears away and I will embrace her and I will never let go. 
 I hope us, this, is enough for Summer, enough for her to never ever feel heartbroken or abandoned. 



One Year On Since Becoming Special Guardians

It's been one year this week since our beautiful baby granddaughter came to live with us.  

Summer was 5 1/2 months old when we became her kinship carers, and then a month later we became her special guardians. 

For the transfer from foster carer to coming to live with us, there was a 10 day introductory transition where I worked closely with Summer's foster carer to introduce her firstly to Paul and I, then the boys and finally our home (her new home). I felt the 10 day transition period did help make it easier for Summer and also for us, it commenced with small visits, where I would visit Summer at the foster carers home, and spend a couple of hours with her, I did this for a couple of days, then it progressed to half a day. Then we switched and the foster carer started to bring Summer to our home, and she would leave her here for a couple of hours, and we built it up like that until it was a whole day visit. Then after the 10 days, we drove to the foster carers home, picked Summer up and drove her home. 

She was living with us now, which we were really thrilled about, however we really did not know what to expect, we were nervous and anxious (our baby granddaughter had been through alot and she was so young).  We assumed she would cry a lot for her foster carer (who she had lived with since she was 3/4 weeks old), we expected her to be scared, unsettled, confused, and we had no idea how long it would take for her to finally settle in with us and be happy.  We did everything possible to make her feel loved, secure and settled (we still do). We all showered her with loads of cuddles and tons of love.

At first we found she was a content baby, but she rarely giggled as a baby should, and she just wanted to cuddle with me and hubby. However after all the worry, she did quickly settle in, and quickly built a very close, loving/affectionate relationship with hubby, myself and the boys and we could see her grow in confidence, and what was most rewarding is she grew into becoming a very happy baby.  

She quickly became a very happy, very affectionate, and a very active little girl.

(lots of laughter and screams of delight every day)

It's been a great 12 months, watching her grow, develop and experience all her milestones: weaning, crawling, walking, teething, talking and saying new words, and all the other little things, along with watching her personality come out over the months.  She is a beautiful little delight. 

What she enjoys:

Her cuddles, she is so very cuddly, and w

e will sit there for ages just cuddling up. She also

 gets jealous

 when Jacob cuddles me, so we have group cuddles, Jacob, Summer and me. 

She loves books  - I read to her a lot (and if I read to Jacob she will join in as well) She sits on my lap and listens and claps loving the stories I read to her.

She loves dancing, she makes me, or hubby get up and we dance around the lounge together. Or she will dance with Jacob they hold hands as they dance around together - she laughs in such glee when he dances with her.

She enjoys to draw, when Jacob draws, she will sit next to him with a crayon and scribble away. (and the on the walls -sigh).

Enjoys playing with her toys (Little people) or with Jacob's imaginext, or cars and the wooden kitchen.

When the boys play around on the floor, rolling on each other, and generally being silly (as boys do) she loves getting involved, she gets on top of them, jumps on them, and doesn't mind the playful rough and tumble with them. 

Bathtime, playing with the toys, splashing about and playing with the bubbles.

Loves being outdoors, running around, on the swings, splashing in puddles and climbing.

Finally, she adored teddies, all sorts and any - and she has a lot!

Becoming a Special Guardian - making it through the assessment

Meeting Summer at 5months old, and the first time since she

was taken from her parents at 3.5 weeks old.

This is my story on how we became special guardians of our little princess, Summer - our Granddaughter.

Summer was taken into care when she was only 3.5 weeks old, my husband and I immediately discussed the situation, and we agreed together that we would speak to the Social services and ask for Summer to be immediately re-placed with us. So Saturday morning came, and we rang the number I tracked down online, but as it was the weekend, only the emergency team were available, the

lady kindly explained she was unable to do anything that weekend, but she would get someone to ring us first thing Monday. 

No call came Monday morning, so early afternoon we rang the Social Workers, and we were told that the Social Worker was not available and they would pass on our message and get her to call us. No call, so we rang again Tuesday, and we were promised the same thing, no call so we rang again on Wednesday - we were getting quite desperate and very panicked - not having any experience with this, we feared we would lose our granddaughter forever. It was lucky I found the http://www.frg.org.uk/ website, as I called them a few times, and they were able to give me lots of information, and support me throughout this difficult time.

Finally after our persistent calling, the Social Worker finally rang us back! But it was not what we was expecting - you would expect an empathic, understanding, and polite response - is that too much to expect from a Social Worker? I think not. I could tell immediate by her tone she was not going to be any of these things; in fact she came across very accusing and very matter a-fact - just generally very cold. First she wanted to know why we were calling so much - REALLY??? I took a big breathe and tried to remain calm - but I had tears in my eyes and the shear panic brewing up in me was unthinkable. She made accusations of us of having Summer's Dad in our home often, and I had to explain that we had a 'at arm's length' relationship with he and my step-son had not been in our home for over 2 years (This is another whole different story, which I won't go into).  She then said Summer had settled down with the Foster Carer; heartbroken to hear that, as there was no need for her to have gone to a Foster Carer in the first place! The Social Worker explained that if we wanted Summer to be re-placed with us, we would need to go under an assessment, I said yes please, can we do the pre-assessment, which should take 6 weeks (I got lots of advice from frg.org by this time), and she said they would look into it for us.  

We heard nothing for over a week, and after a week we kept trying to contact them, until we were finally told that the Social Worker had left, and a new one would be taking over the case soon - this took another week before we heard back, and this time the new Social Worker was much more friendly and approachable; he rang us, kept us updated, and was quick to organise a time to come see us so he could start the assessment.  

We done the first assessment interview which took a couple of hours of intensive questions and looking around our home, and then it went quiet again, 2 weeks later to be told that he had left abruptly, and now the Social Services could not find any of the assessment he had done with us!  We therefore would have to start from the beginning again - at this point, we had come to terms that we were not going to get a immediate replacement with Summer to our home, she had been too long now with the Foster Carer and made a bond, but we still moved forward, and now focused on getting through the full assessment and getting her with us ASAP, but as advised by the social services, it could take up to 3 months.  

We meet the new Social worker (3rd one), who again was very nice, and helpful, and things quickly got rolling. The assessment itself was a long, intensive and very invasive process - we had many interviews with the Social Worker, and with Summer's Social Worker Guardian - the interviews were done as a couple and individually, they spoke to my 2 older boys, they spoke to my boys schools, we had medical history taken down, criminal record checks, intensive and very personal questions on our wider family and both our childhood - how we were disciplined as children etc. We were questioned about our relationship, our past relationships, how we handle disputes with each other, how we discipline our children, our financial situation, and lots more! but you get my gist. 3 months this went on.

All this time we had not seen summer since she was 3.5 weeks old - we were not allowed too, as parallel to our  assessment, they were putting her forward on the adoption register - this is a safety net as such, in case our assessment failed, then there would be no delay in finding her a family to adopt her - And I read some horror stories online, where grandparents failed assessments, and lost children - which didn't help! Not until the final phase of the assessment were we allowed to meet Summer, which was done in a sure start centre.  Finally we got to see Summer for the first time in 4 months, the Social Worker would be in the same room assessing us for that hour, and how we are with Summer (also the Foster Carer stayed, to support Summer, as we were strangers to Summer).  She was nearly 5 months old at this time, and to be honest both my hubby and I was just so excited in seeing her, we didn't focus on the Social Worker being in the room watching us, and as soon as the Foster Carer brought her in, and Summer looked at me, and I put my hands up to gesture that I would like her to come to me, and she leaned towards my gesture - the tears started streaming down my face.  My heart swelled and was full of love for her. 

Finally, we passed the assessment, the judge ruled in our favour, and the steps were organised to slowly introduce Summer to us and the boys. As you can imagine it was a very exciting, scary and life changing time for us all - but we pulled together as a family and supported each other as much as possible.  It was an intensive few days of visits, first starting out with an hour at the foster carers home with Summer, and then slowly working to half day with her, until then the Foster Carer was dropping Summer off to our home, and leaving her for the full day.  This was done over 10 days, and then finally we went to pick her up and bring her home!

That was in February this year, and soon after she quickly settled in, and became part of our family. The boys adore her, and I am so proud of them all on how easy they made it for her, they show her so much love and attention, more than I could have hoped for - she has them all wrapped around her little fingers (smart girl she is).

Our happy little princess