Mum calls for more financial help for adoptive parents
- Credit: Archant
A mum who answered a newspaper call to adopt a young boy has spoken of the financial hardship she faced bringing up an autistic child with significant behavioural difficulties.
Julie, who asked to be referred to by her first name to protect the identity of her son, adopted a five-year-old boy with autism from Islington in 2001 after seeing an advert in this newspaper's sister title, the Hackney Gazette.
Due to his significant behavioural difficulties, Islington Council agreed to pay Julie and her then-partner £49.50 a week in Adoption Allowance towards their new son’s care.
However, over the next few years, Julie’s financial situation deteriorated – she had also taken over the care of a 14-year-old fostered by her mother before she died of breast cancer and had split from her partner.
Julie had become the sole breadwinner for two dependents.
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“I was doing what I could to work but it was incredibly difficult,” she said.
During this time, Julie was living on the breadline, unable to work while caring for the demanding needs of her adopted son and as bills mounted for his counselling, enrichment activities, food and clothes.
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He needed constant attention and it could be “dangerous” if he was left unsupervised – on occasions he damaged the house, ate dog poo, and set fires.
Julie felt forced to take out three loans of £17,200 in total, leading to repayments of more than 28,900 - debt she is still grappling with today and which has put a strain on her mental health.
In 2010, Islington Council upped her payments to more than £200 a week. Although the authority handed over a backdated payment of £3,953 in 2010 to 2009, Julie has since requested the authority releases some £28,350 in backpayments to 2005.
“Obviously, it has created massive financial strain and hardship which I am still suffering with now and I don’t see a way out of,” Julie said.
Since 2015, Julie has taken her case to the Central London County Court and to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, but had both claims dismissed.
She added: “I would say to anyone who is going to adopt, don’t take it lightly.
"It was very rewarding, it has always had ups and downs, more than you can imagine.”
An Islington Council spokesperson said: “These matters have been dealt with via two legal claims from [Julie], which have both reached final outcomes.”