Typing it into google, the definition is as follows:
“A special guardianship order is an order appointing one or more individuals to be a child’s ‘special guardian’. It is a private law order made under the Children Act 1989 and is intended for those children who cannot live with their birth parents and who would benefit from a legally secure placement.”
I have found that it is sort of in the middle of fostering and adoption. We all know that adoption is taking on a child, that in the eyes of the law, becomes legally yours. Everything about the child is solely your responsibility. You can move country, change the child’s name, school, and no other person shares the responsibility except for the adoptive parent(s). Fostering comes without the parental responsibility, In as far as you cannot make any big decisions in the child’s life. The child may well still be seeing their birth parents weekly, monthly etc. The child could be with you short term or long term. Anything from overnight as an emergency to when the child reaches adulthood. It is generally found that you only foster children with a gap of 2 years to your own child, no matter which way. This ensures they will have different needs.
A special guardianship means taking on the ‘most’ parental responsibility. You make the big decisions in that child’s life. You can change their school, take them on holiday and decide what treatment they will get if ever needed. However it was explained to me to look at it like 95% PR. The other 5% remains with the birth parents. This means you will be unable to change the child’s name by deed poll, unless you advise the courts or the parents agree. You cannot leave the country for more than 3 months, again unless the parents and courts agree and you must always inform the birth parents of any ‘significant’, or ‘life changing’ event in the child’s life … for example … changing schools (doesn’t mean they can say no, you just have to tell them), moving address, life saving treatment, or let’s say the child gets to 16 and requires adult consent to enable themselves to access something that will affect them e.g. Sex change, marriage.
For the 9 months I have been a special guardian, I have found it busy, great but hard, sometimes frustrating and a massive learning curve into the way the care system works and how they look at things.
I will write blogs on all of this including parenting, managing a child that is traumatised, managing contact with the parents, social services, school, health services and the impact it has on you, your relationship, and your children. This blog is set up for pure honesty. I would love to hear from you if you have had experiences, or questions or if you want a blog on something specific.
Why would a child be put into special guardianship rather than be adopted?
An adoption means a child will most likely change their identity, depending on age, and be housed somewhere in a completely different area where the parents would not know where or how to find their birth child.
A special guardian means you have parental responsibility over the child but the parents still hold around 5%. They have the right to know any life changing impacts on the child.
In our case, our girl was taken from her birth parents via social services due to concerns of her welfare. She was placed into foster care and a court case was set. In this time they looked at lots of options for her: adoption, long term foster placement, a special guardian (going with someone who already knows her) or going back to the parents.
They did not support returning to parents for obvious reasons, adoption was an option but very unlikely at her age with her problems that she would be taken on, therefore it left long term fostering unless someone came forward who knew her or knows her and agrees after assessment to take her.
A SG would be someone Has or had a connection with the family or child and it’s up to authorities to assess whether it would be a good, appropriate or safe option for the child. Family members can come forward for this. In this case, her family members did come forward but I think after viability assessments child services felt they were not appropriate. This could be because they thought parent/child contact rules would be ignored, or they were not capable, or maybe the children already within the household would not suit the environment for this girl.
We were not friends with the parents, but we knew child since the age of 2.
So we agreed to give her a home. She has contact with her birth parents once every two months. Apart from that, she is ours, we are her guardians and she sees us as her parents.
I hope this helps clear it up. Apologies I kept referring to my girl as ‘her’ or ‘girl’ but I’d rather this than put her name.
And lastly, an SGO comes with rules … we cannot change her name or leave the country to live somewhere else without either the birth parents consent and/or court permission.
If you have any other questions, please please let me know.
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Wow. I never heard of that. Thanks for the lesson.
More than welcome