Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, see our mental health web guide which can point you to expert advice.
This fear that social services will come and take your children...(642 Posts)
...it worries me!
There seem to be so many women out there who are afraid to seek help for depression and other problems out of fear that they will lose their children.
I have just asked MNHQ if they would consider doing something with this. Because surely if so many of us fear to lose our children something is going wrong somewhere! Surely we should all be albe to seek help with confidence?
What are your thoughts on this? I struggle with PTSD and even told my doctor that I tended to keep emotional distance from my ds when he's ill without even considering the possibility of that having repercussions.
messupmum - I'm not scaremongering, I'm in absolute pieces here and just reaching out for support. please don't kick me when I'm down
My post wasn't just aimed at you Ip3006, but ss don't take babies away because of a breakdown. They may care for the baby until you are well again, but surely there must be more going on, and ss should be cooperating with you, explaining the reasons behind all this.
I feel for you, and hope things work out for the best, as obviously something has gone wrong somewhere along the line.
sorry to have snapped at you mess, today has just been a really tough day with lots of tears, I apologise x
Unfortunately I believe some Social Workers arent in it for the right reasons. I was in a very violent relationship and had two children during. SS became involved after my 2nd son was born and was 1 month old. I had been depressed since my 1st was born 14 months earlier. I was thrilled to have my baby in my arms at last but living with domestic violence every day, trying to keep your children safe and pretending everything is A okay to the rest of the world is mentally exhausting. I was scared to seek help for my depression, when social services got involved they told me I had one week to make some sort of progress otherwise my boys would be taken. This was a shock to the system. I went to the doctor, she was very understanding and I was put on 50mg of anti depressants a day because suicide was a regular thought in my head. After a very serious incident with my childrens father I left him. My social worker was like my rock the whole way through. She offered me endless support and nagged me like she was my mother sometimes. But I made it very clear from the start that I would not tolerate being pushed about. Be honest, dont be pushed around, and if in any doubt what so ever, SEEK LEGAL ADVICE! I cannot urge you enough to always double check if you are unsure about anything at all. Saying good bye to my social worker was like saying goodbye to a family member forever. Try not to tar them all with the same brush, there is hope for everyone!
I haven't read the whole thread but in response to the OP - I have always been honest about my MH problems with the professionals as I was so shit scared about what was happening to me and didn't feel I had much of an option.
However after first DS my worry was that I'd 'lose control'
And hurt him in some way during a 'lost control black out' (irrational anxious thought). This, however often got converted into me having thoughts of harming DS which I never, ever did. A huge difference despite me emphasising at each meeting this wasn't the case. This did worry me.
On balance I would still always open up as secrecy for me and not having someone listen to my worries and label them as anxious rather than abnormal would worry me more.
I know a mum though who is suffering from severe OCD revolving around her children and she's never once sought help for this reason. Best friend also worries for me every time I make 'contact' with the system for me too, for fear SS will become involved.
I don't know what the answer could be.
Well, this thread has absolutely petrified me. I don't have any children yet but from now on I shall be even more cautious what I share with my mental health team. I have always been honest and open with practitioners about my illness, this thread is making me seriously regret that.
Can anyone in the profession answer a couple of questions for me? If you have a MH illness and are receiving treatment are you automatically referred to SS? If you have a history of MH illness but are currently functioning well i.e. full time job, no involvement with MH services, are you automatically referred to SS?
If so to the above, why should parents with MH illnesses be referred any more than 'normal' parents? I myself have training in child protection and I fail to see why the same good practice of being observant of neglect/ abuse from any parent shouldn't be continued.
I always hoped to emigrate in the future, maybe it's best I bring that plan to fruition before starting a family if my illness is going to used against me.
People resurrect threads in the main to terrify people.
1/3 of the people in this country get mental health issues at some point in their lives.
If people with mental health issues had their children taken away....well, everyone would be employed in social services to be able to cope and care for all the taken away children, and I have no idea where all the children would be put.
I have to agree with Yellow in that one of my best friends is a SW and says there is a very high 'bar' for intervention.
Tiptops don't let scare mongering prevent you from being honest with MH services; being honest is the only way you can get the support you need to recover.
As I said last time I posted, I had SS involved because I had been in a psych hospital within the year previous to becoming pregnant. They were lovely, supportive, and disappeared very quickly after DS was born because they had no concerns.
Since then I have continued to see my mental health team fortnightly / weekly depending on my mental state, have at times seen my psych every two weeks too, have attended day hospital services, done two intensive therapy courses, and have had the crisis team involved a few times; they're currently visiting me nightly. At no time during all of this has social services been mentioned. I asked my psych once about it, and he reassured me considerably. And I also spoke to the social worker about it, who told me that they work to keep families together wherever possible.
Social services get bad press; they're damned if they do, damned if they don't. You don't hear about all the families and individuals they help on a daily basis, you just hear the horror stories - because we've become addicted to wanting to know the drastic situations and how everyone is out to get us. That's not how society works, and it's certainly not how social services function.
So please... Continue to be honest with mental health workers. In the long run, it will be better for you, and for any children you have, if you are progressing with recovery, and the only way to do that is to work with services as fully as possible.
Thank you for your reply SirBoobAlot
That, along with the initial panic of reading the thread subsiding a little, is making me feel a bit calmer about the whole SS and mental health situation. I will be more hesitant about what I share with the MH team but hopefully if I engage with treatment and manage to get my illness more under control then that will work in my favour too.
I'm glad I've read the thread as it's made me think deeply about my health and realise it's probably best to delay my plans to start a family in the near future.
I would like to add to help people 2 things;
1) record your meetings. You do not have to have permission for this under the law because it is your own personal information (don't let them know). People will argue with the ethics of it but it is not illegal and there is more at stake that the SS feelings. It is admissable in court. Don't even use it to begin with. Let them go along their merry way and at the last innings submit your recordings and highlight all the inconsitencies. I have known social workers to lie but they will be belived above you (as in why would they lie?).
2) Ask them in court if they suffer mental health issues that could effect their judgement on the case. You may just be surpised at the hypocracy of it all.
This is not from personal dealings with SS. This is from a professional capacity and also assisting a friend who became involved with them.
There are lots and lots of good SW's out there. The majority of times you will be treated with respect, honesty and professionalism. Good SW's want to help. But as with any profession or just in general in life... there are some less desirable social workers and the consequences are so dire that you must absolutely keep your own comprehensive records and recordings of events.
Sorry but I totally disagree with you Dandygal - I have some 30 years experience as a LA social worker and team manager and am now retired. The thing is that no court case stands or falls just on the report submitted by the child/children's social worker. There are numerous assessments carried out on the birth parents, dependent upon their individual circumstances, but there will always be an assessment/report undertaken by a psychologist (who is independent of the LA SSD) a consultant psychiatrist if there are mental health issues, possibly a GP, sometimes a play therapist/nursery worker/teacher/school nurse/health visitor. Alongside these assessments/reports there will always be a children's guardian appointed in care proceedings. They are social workers but independent of the LA SSD and work for CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory service) Their role is to investigate all of the circumstances and make a recommendation as to whether they are in agreement with the LA's application for a Care Order. They appoint a lawyer to act for the child
Care proceedings go on over 4/5 days dependent on the complexity of the case. All report writers have to be available for cross examination (LA social workers are often cross examined for 2/3 hours by the lawyers for the birthparents) Who ever else has agreed with the LA's application will also be cross examined. There is one more step before a final decision is made by the Judge and on occasions agreement will be given by the Court for the birthparents to be assessed by an independent social worker who is experienced in child protection work. That social worker has to submit a report at the end of the assessment. At the end of hearing after reading all the documentation, all the evidence and cross examinations, the Judge makes the final decision. SO any social worker who is lying would very soon be found out. I find it hard to believe a secret recording is admissible in court. Why does it have to be secret? I would have no objection to birthparents taping recording my meetings with them.
As for "asking the sw if she/he has mental health problems" frankly I find this ridiculous. Who are you imagining will ask this question? Any lawyer acting for the birthparents (and they are almost always legally represented as they get legal aid) would never ask such a question as they know that they would lose all credibility with the Judge and discredit the case of the birthparents.
I agree that social workers like all other professionals and employees vary a great deal in their empathy and competence and I see no reason why birthparents (and anyone helping them) should not keep written records of what's been said/agreed. In fact I think it's a very good idea because if there are inconsistencies they can point these out to their lawyer and believe you me, lawyers will cease any opportunity to discredit the LA social worker, or indeed anyone else if they think there is good cause.
Hi I really feel for u bless that must of been horrific for u and then how on earth u must of felt when carrying ur now 3 year old. The bit u put about blonde hair blue eyes I have just had a little boy just like that I have 3 year old girl blonde hair blue eyes I asked for help nearly six years ago as I broke down in a school meeting not long after my servicing twin was home cut a very long story short as I can I lost one of my twin girls she was 16 days old and hospital perforated her belly 3 times bless her anyway I ended up a mess asked for help not realising ss was there they have taken e court 3 times now one time I won due to proving sw was lying since them I ent been court they have done legal meetings etc which I have proven new sw to be lier to anyway before I had my little man everything in there eyes was alright after I had him by c section cause there were things I couldn't do and I have suffered my norm postnatal which they all know about which house ends up complete mess and I can't be asked with myself etc routines go out door well coz of this ss are now taking me to court to have my children I have spoke to docs several times still no joy there then I have been in touch with them to due to realising I'm a hoarder which don't help due to house etc and I really ent gd at routines etc I'm single mum which there using I really don't know how to stop them this time I really don't the family intervention team support worker explained to my eldest what was happening a couple days before Xmas so all my children know now which hasn't helped as they have behaviour problems already and when they worry they get worse everyone one seams to think its best idea for children to go in care which to be fair I know that isn't best option if they helped me with the issues that are making me this way it would help out loads and it wouldn't be such a problem all this due to mental health that needs treatment which I have asked for I just ent got clue what to do
my son was taken into long term foster care 3 years due to domestic domestic violence and alcohol and a long history of depression, i am no longer in that relationship and my drinking is under control. I see my son every 6 weeks and we maintain a strong bond but i am now in a very loving settled relationship and have found out i,m 17 weeks pregnant, and very concerned that this child will be taken away from me due to past history is this the cause i am unable to enjoy this pregnancy due to worrying all time.
I read a comment on DM website last night whereby a woman had one other children taken off her (custody given to father) as she had postnatal psychosis. She's fine now but not seen so much as a photo of the child for 6 years. Not sure if it was this country but tragic all the same. She'd contacted media and no one cared. It scared me. I have had MH issues since having DCs.
Taxianne if the court does take your child way it is only because it is in the child's best interest. Also SS doesn't make the choice to take children away, that decision is up to the courts.
Taking a child away is very extreme and lots of things are done before that happens.
sws want to keep children with birth famililes.
It is very expensive to take them away
I just thought it might be useful to share my experience. I have had a long history of depression since a teenager and then had PND after my first birth. I was open and shared it with my HV and GP who supported me. I asked for a ss referral 'Child in need' to get a space in a supported playgroup, which was given and I found this supported, As I felt a bit better we stopped it as I didn't need it anymore. (as part of it I could go onto the children's centre for support when in town if I needed it too)
My children are older now, school age and when I had psychotic depression a couple of years ago was referred to the MHT and got a support worker, 2 years have past and they have told me it is all confidential and if any need to refer to ss would talk to me first, that they would need a reason to do this however. they did say a single mum in the same position may have been offered this however I have family so it wasn't needed.
Hopefully this may reassure others.
I'm not sure this is the right place and it's very hard to find places like this that deal with men as a sole issue. So here goes.
I was in a violent relationship for 3 years. My ex was already known to social services due to her past.
She began assaulting just before our son was born. And it continued throughout the relationship.
Something that should be added is that my son isn't my biological son. But I'm on the birth cerfitcate and I have equal PR.
When the violence happened I would contanly be threatened with the possibly that if I lef I would never see my son again. This was constantly held boer me and I felt I could never leave. If I had tried to get myself and my son out I believe the violence would have got worse. If a fight did break out I was never aloud near my son afterward. I think with the fear that I would take him.
This all cam to a end at the beginning of the year when I was badly assaulted by her and decided I'd had enough. There was no way I was going to be able to take my son with me. On trying to say goodbye to him ( my believing it would be for good) she barred entrance to his room. And assaulted me again. I managed to briefly say good bye and left to my parents. Where I called the police.
The police arrested her and took my son to me.
That was 6 months ago and I'm living with my son whilst my ex fights for custody.
Here comes the problem.
Because of her past social services were called and I had a brief chat with a officer 6 months ago.
But the court have decided that a social worker was needed so another one got involved.
The new social worker is useless. He is either late of appointments, forgets the day or on one occasion got lost. I have no faith in this guy doing his job properly.
He has decided that because I didn't get out of the realonship at the start of the violence that I now need to have a psychiatric evaluation done to make sure I have the 'cognitive ability to sense dangers to my son' his words. And all he talks about is setting up a plan for another family member to have my son if I don't get him.
He says that he want to keep my son in the paternal family but when asked if that means me he never give a straight answer.
I'm starting to worry now that for some reason, even though I've been looking after him fine for 6 months that this guy has already made up his mind about me. I'm starting to get scared.
My family support worker on the other hand, who has been working with me from the start sees no issue with me bring sole carer for my son.
Sorry for long post. Any opinions?
I'm not in the same position as you but do have SS involvement and have been in a psychiatric unit as an in patient and have spent at least half of the last twenty years under a MH team.Personally I have always co operated with any MH professionals and SS and no risk of dc being removed.
I do know another service user who did lose her dc but she remained in a very violent relationship and to this day she still doesn't understand nor think it is fair they were removed.
They need to know if your DS is at any kind of risk. You may be the loveliest man in the world but if you will stay in a relationship with violence it would not be in the best interests of the child. You have done this in the past. They want assurances you won't do this again. "Cognitive ability to sense dangers to your DS" just means can you make the right decisions to keep your son safe. That is all that means, the problem is if you don't understand the language used it can feel intimidating.
Being late isn't great but I would imagine being a SW means you can walk in the door on a situation that has to be dealt with immediately, bit like when Doctors surgeries see you an hour late. I don't think you should hold getting lost against him. I think not turning up is bad however unless there was some dreadful emergency.
As an actual SW pointed out it is not actually his decision if your DS remains with you. He will merely produce his report as will the psych evaluation. So he can't actually say. You sound quite defensive and I can see why you are but that in itself would be the biggest barrier to a successful outcome. I'm not sure how DV assistance works for men but I had help from women's aid, showing that you are making the effort to avoid abusers would really help your case but just as importantly it would help you to get a better future hopefully with your DS.
It's not that I don't understand what the phrase means. I do. It's just the way everything I say Or try to say regular ding why I didn't get out is met with the same reply.
I understand that they are trying to keep my child safe and I'll give them as many assurances as I possibly can that I won't get myself in the same situation again.
It's just annoying that it's all he wants to talk about.
I'll do everything in my power to prove to them that I can manage on my own and that I'm capable of doing it.
Hi Singledad - I am a retired social worker and middle manager in a LA children's services dept and have 30 years experience - have been retired since 2009 so am a bit out of date.
When you say your ex is fighting for custody - I'm not sure exactly what you mean. Are the LA going to court to ask for an Order on the child, and your ex is contesting their application? If so I can give you lots of information about this process which might help. This is known as public law and parties involved in the process (parents/step-parents/other relatives) can usually get legal aid so that a lawyer can advise and represent their client in court. The social workers dealing with the case will be LA sws and there will be numerous other professionals involved in carrying out assessments on both of you and making recommendations to the court based on the best interests of the child.
Is this matter in the Family Courts and your ex is fighting for a Residence Order (there is no such thing as custody now) and RO means that the child has his permanent home with the parent awarded the RO and the other parent gets contact. In fact Residence Order is also a term no longer used (I've only just found this out) and I think the new term is "Arrangements for Children" (or something similar) The social worker involved will be from CAFCASS (Children & Family Court Advice & Support Service) This is private law and legal aid is no longer available, so unless parents can afford to pay a lawyer they have to represent themselves in court.
The social worker sounds a bit hopeless I agree - he may well be newly qualified and out of his depth. Nationally Children's Services are absolutely "on their knees" and completely overwhelmed with workloads and staff shortages. I know this is no help to you, but that's the reality and it is going to affect the service that you get.
To be honest from what you have said, I would think that the child's best interests may well be served by remaining in your care, as you have obviously known and cared for the child since his birth. Do I take it that the child is now 3 or 4 years of age. Can I ask on what basis you have a family support worker?
Happy to help further if necessary
I was given the family support worker when I left the realonship. I think due to the fact that my ex was already known to them and social services previously.
Yes my wife is seeking a residence order. I got the ball rolling in all of the legal side before they changed the rules I legal aid. Which is lucky as I wouldn't be able to do this without it as I gave up my job when I left my ex to care for my 3 year old.
I have the number of a social worker I met once or twice when my son was born. They were to make sure my ex could cope, because of her past.
I'll give her a call and ask for advice
It may be helpful to pass a psychiatric evaluation with flying colours? And tell them you stayed for your son? But when left immediately phoned the police to ensure welfare of son. If she was already known to SS then you can tell them you trusted SS to do their job properly and as they kept her with the child you assumed they were right?
Personally I would do every assessment without showing anger/complaint as they will have nothing on you.
Obviously she will need a psychiatric report - due to her known violence? Etc.
Glad you have legal representation singledad and as I suspected it is a CAFCASS social worker dealing with your case. They are seriously under resourced and usually produce very scant reports. I am amazed that the sw is talking of the need for a psychiatric report, or maybe a psychological report? This is really unusual and I suspect it is because you are a step father requesting an RO and it is usually mothers that get granted the RO. Obviously the report will need to contain the details of the mother's previous involvement with Children's Services.
I have seen some of these reports and have been shocked at how brief they are and how there is no real evaluation of the circumstances. I suspect the sw will have some concern about being cross examined by mother's lawyer IF he recommends that Singledad should be awarded a Residence Order (or whatever it's called now) and maybe he is ensuring that he has covered all aspects that could be picked up by mother's lawyer at the court hearing. This may be why he seems overly concerned about your ability to protect the child, but I don't see what else you could have done - you called the police and they placed the child with you. Can I ask has his mother been having contact and if so how has this been handled and how has the child seemed before and after contact.
I think in private law where legal aid has been granted the 2 parents have to agree to mediation before the hearing, in the hope that the issues can be resolved without the need for a hearing. Usually though by the time it gets to this stage there is no way mediation is going to be of much use and it doesn't sound like your ex is going to be rational and reasonable and willing to try to come to some mutually acceptable agreement.
The best advice I can give is to make sure that you focus on the child's needs both in mediation and at the hearing and don't get into any "point scoring" with the ex. Judges get very impatient with parents who are just intent on blaming each other without thinking of the child's best interests.
I do hope that things turn out well for you as it does sound like you are a rather special person, to fight so hard for your step-son and be prepared to give up your job to care for him. Inevitably though these cases are perceived by the 2 parents as winning and losing and it shouldn't be like that, but there is no other option where parents cannot agree between themselves.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.