Couple reveal their adopted sons 'no longer regard them as parents'

Couple reveal the teenage sons they adopted as toddlers ‘no longer live at home or regard them as parents’ after they were ‘manipulated’ by their birth family who ‘introduced them to drugs’ after making contact on social media

  • Couple adopted brothers aged two and three after they were taken into care
  • Adopted children have the right to contact birth family when they turn 18
  • But oldest son tracked down his adopted family via social media when he was 16
  • Boys began ‘disappearing’, withdrew from school and eldest is involved in drugs 
  • Devastated parents say their sons have been ‘manipulated’ into cutting ties 

A couple have revealed how their adoptive sons have cut them out of their lives after being ‘manipulated’ and ‘subject to intrusive contact’ by their birth family.

Speaking anonymously to Radio 4’s Today programme, the couple explained their sons no longer live with them or ‘regard them as parents’ after their eldest son, 16, made contact with their birth family via social media last autumn.

Now contact has completely broken down between ‘Ed’ and ‘Claire’ and their sons.  

‘We haven’t had any meaningful contact with [the boys in] over three months,’ Ed said. They no longer live with us or regard us as their parents, and they don’t want to. They don’t want us to be their parents going forward.’

The reintroduction to their birth family has also coincided with the boys dropping out of school and the 16-year-old falling into drugs. 

Speaking anonymously to Radio 4’s Today programme, the couple explained their sons no longer live with them or ‘regard them as parents’ after their eldest son, 16, made contact with their birth family via social media last autumn. Stock image

‘They’re both incredibly unlikely to go back to education, get any qualifications to live within mainstream societal norms,’ Ed continued. ‘The ultimate tragedy for us is to see them, their life chances, have gone.’

Ed and Claire were desperate to become parents when they decided to adopt the boys, then aged two and three, after they were taken into care. 

The eldest boy has ‘very complex difficulties’, Claire explained, but by last October he was in a position where he was ‘happy and settled’ for the ‘first time in years’.

She continued: ‘He was going to a specialist school with support. He was having very good therapeutic interventions and he seemed to be engaging well. And for the first time in many years we felt there was a future mapped ahead for him. 

‘And our youngest son was in mainstream education, he had a group of friends, and to all intents and purposes seemed to be a happy lad who was working well at school and on the trajectory to get some GCSEs.’

An adopted child has the right to make contact with their birth family when they turn 18. 

Under the terms of Ed and Claire’s adoption, there was supposed to be no direct contact with the birth family until the age of 18, although the couple were obliged to send annual updates about the boys’ progress via a monitored ‘post box service’.

But when the eldest boy was 16 he decided to look up his birth family on social media, rather than wait to write a letter.     

‘As part of the adoption process he had been given quite a few details, an extensive list of names and dates of birth etc. so it was easy for him to find them on social media within a matter of minutes,’ Ed explained. 

‘They were very receptive to him contacting them and they were very persistent in contacting him from then on and encouraging him to have more contact with them, which us and other people involved in his life started to see [having] a detrimental effect on him very quickly.’

The teenager began going missing overnight and ‘disengaged’ from school, before dropping out completely at Christmas. 

Claire continued: ‘And whether this is incidental, or whether this is involved in his change in circumstances, he became involved in, we think, probably some criminal activity in the local community. 

‘There are allegations that he was dealing with drugs, he was certainly smoking weed. He was completely knocked off course and started to follow a completely different life trajectory.’

Claire and Ed tried to seek assistance from social services and the local regional adoption agency to see what interventions could be put in place.  

They wanted risk assessments to be carried out and for the boys to have controlled contact and supervised visits with the birth family so they could get to know each other in a managed, safe way.

‘We were just told repeatedly that nobody provides that service,’ Claire said. 

Although their youngest son was initially ‘very resistant’ to making contact with the family, he was eventually ‘drawn in’. 

Claire continued: ‘He was subject to really intrusive contact, by phone, by FaceTime. You could watch him set on this trajectory of decline which was really devastating. He withdrew from school, he withdrew from our family.

‘He started to disappear as well, not at night, but during the day. Over time he started to share that the birth family was coming to our town and he was meeting them.

‘He would come back with things like vapes, clothes, they were giving him money. And despite all of this… nothing was done to safeguard him.’ 

Now the parents haven’t had any contact with the boys for three months. 

‘They’re quite hostile towards us,’ Ed said. ‘For us it has been devastating to have our family broken. But the big tragedy, the big human cost, is theirs because they’ve just been manipulated… 

‘We love them as much as we could being children. But now we see their life chances have been ripped up, as well as our family.’

Charlotte Ramsden, the Association of Directors of Childrens Services, responded to say: ‘When adoptions are set up, plans are put in place for what is considered to be appropriate for that very early stage and recognise that children’s needs – as their identity develops and they start to ask more questions – their needs change. 

‘We do have better arrangements than we used to for lifelong support and advice available but it is certainly not at the level that we think it needs to be.’  

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