Advanced search

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.

Can they take my baby at birth?

(77 Posts)
nickname123 Fri 15-Jan-10 14:56:15

My story;
I'm 25 and I have a 3 year old son who I've never spent a day without,
his dad left when he was a few weeks old and I've cared for him alone since then.
I've gained qualifications in this time and believe I've set up a nice home for him.
However, back in my teen years I suffered depression and attempted suicide several
times after a great loss in my life. At one point I took antidepressants and after 3 days
it was clear I had reacted badly to them as I had never felt so low in my life, so I took
the whole packet of them, I then told someone about it and I ended up on on psychiatric ward for 3 days.
They disgnosed me with adjustment disorder and I went home and had a psychiatrist who I saw every week.
I never used any medication for depression I recovered over time.
I haven't felt any serious depressive periods since about aged 18 or 19.
When I had my son I believe he cured me completely as he became the light of my life bassically
and being a mother has really completed me.
The social services did an assesment when he was born and said we were fine and discharged us.

Last year I fell pregnant after a very short liason with a guy a used to know.
I am now 7 monthes pregnant and still single.
Although it's not an ideal situation that I would have planned, I see myself having these two children
(and no more) and us all still having a good life and I'm okay with this.

The problem;
Whilst in hospital recently the consultant saw old scars on my arms from self harm I did about
8 years ago (they were deep cuts admittedly and I had overactive scar tissue in the healing
process which made them look a lot worse).
She then saw that I had been an 'inpatient' in my history
(the 3 day psychiatric ward stay which again was back in my teens) and
despite me telling her that I'm now fine and well, she said that she would have to refer me to the
Perinatal Maternal Health Team, because of my 'psychiatric problems'.
She told some other nurses and they gathered in a room and instantly
I could see they were all looking at me very sympathetically, even when I spoke they were looking
at me as if I was ill and it was all so uncomfortable, like, alienating.
Then they started to assure me that I could just go to a mother and baby unit when my baby is
born to be assessed properly, and I said 'what about my 3 yr old son, can he come'? and they went silent.
So obviously he would be seperated from me and what? in some foster care? I told them I have looked after
my son alone since he was born and I have been fine and not suffered any mental illness, but they
wouldn't be convinced.
They said there's a very high risk of childbirth brining back psychiatric problems.

I feel like I can't trust them, I may go into hospital and told that I cannot leave with my child and
that would be traumatic.
I don't know how serious this is, but I do know a girl in recent years here had her baby immediately taken a way for
a few weeks because of past depression, before a judge ordered that she as the mother should have her baby back.

How can they so casually play god in our lives like this? The first few weeks will be so important to
get breastfeeding and bonding established, but they want to put us in some alien place and separate my son
from me just to 'assess me'. If I say no, I know they wont let me take my baby home.

I feel like just running away, but I don't know how at risk I am of them actually doing all theyre threatening to.


StealthPolarBear Fri 15-Jan-10 14:58:49

oh no you poor thing. Hope someone is one with some specific advice but you do need to sort smoething out soon. Is there anyone who could at least have your 3yo if it comes to that so he's not in foster care? I know that won't be as good as with you but still...

SleighGirl Fri 15-Jan-10 15:00:31

I have no idea whether then can without informing you.

My advice (as someone who knows very little) would be to speak to CAB. Ask your GP to get you a CPN (comminuity psychatric nurse) and start asking social services for their support in keeping your family together. I think if you fight them it may look suspicious and go against you.

Ask them what is the mother & baby unit? Can I get that support elsewhere as my 3 year old needs to be with me as well etc etc etc

SleighGirl Fri 15-Jan-10 15:02:39

Bumping for you

ShinyAndNew Fri 15-Jan-10 15:04:10

From what I gather they could take the baby at birth would need to prove to a court that they had a damn good reason to do so. And they have no reason to do so, as you and your son are fine.

Book an appointment with a family solictor. The first half hour is free and they will be able to advise you on what your rights are.

ShinyAndNew Fri 15-Jan-10 15:05:57

Good point about the GP, Sleigh Girl. And ask your sons HV too if they could offer any advice/support.

harimosmummy Fri 15-Jan-10 15:06:10

god, this sounds horrific for you to have to deal with.

Can you possibly go back to the hospital / doctor who delivered your first baby?

Can you get a letter from your GP / HV stating that you have been well since the birth of your first son?

How can people interfere in your life is beyond me.

I'm sorry I have no advice.

ladylush Fri 15-Jan-10 15:08:01

Please don't run away - it will make things much worse. It's hard to comment on your situation without knowing everything - you will appreciate that your post is a summary rather than a in-depth factual account of all that has happened.
I am a CPN (community psychiatric nurse) and want to stress that your CMHT has a responsibility to safeguard you and your unborn baby (and your son). Removing a mother from her child is extreme and not a decision taken lightly. What is your relationship like with the psychiatrist you see? Do you have a CPN? It sounds like you need a case conference whereby you can all sit down and talk this through and agree an action plan. You sound absolutely terrified and so would I be if I thought I would be separated from my baby or older child sad Also, have you considered contacting an advocate - or even a solicitor? The latter may not be necessary - it depends on how things go. What about MIND? They are very helpful and tend to have local offices. The perinatal team would need to get Children and Families involved if there was a concern about the children. Have they done this?

weegiemum Fri 15-Jan-10 15:17:46

You need to get in touch with an external body and get this reviewed!

In Scotland it would be the Mental Welfare Commission, I don't know who it is in England, but I am sure there is someone here who will.

They can look at your treatment plan, get other people involved to get a second opinion for you etc.

Definitely get your GP involved - my dh is one and I know he deals with advocating for patients with other bodies like SS - he goes along to case conferences and things and one of his main roles is to stick up for patients. Is your HV good/supportive and does she know you well enough to be able to stand up and say you are a good mum. Does your ds attend any nursery/playgroups or anything where people can stand up for you?

You are being bullied here and there are ways round it. I have always suffered pnd adn with my 3rd child had to sign a letter saying I would let them refer me to the psychiatrist before I left hospital. I just never went to the appointment.

It is all part of the stigma of mental health. Lots of people self harm and attempt suicide as teenagers and it seems like your consultant is over-reacting and getting above himself! Obstetricians are not psychiatrists!!

Please let us know how things go.

ra29needsabettername Fri 15-Jan-10 15:19:55

Do you have hv or gp who knows you and knows how you coped/cope with dc1? If you are telling the full story then there is absolutely no reason for you to be admitted anywhere and even less for anyone to remove any child of yours. Please try not to panic- self harm and depression are common- removing children is not.

Did you go into a mother and baby unit with dc1? If not you need tosay calmly to the dr that you are coping absolutely fine with dc1 (if true) and have not experienced mental healthdifficulties since your teens.

It sounds like you've had a tough time and if you do feel you need help you shouldnt have to worry about it. It may be worth going through your gp though or somebody with more sensitivity and experience than this dr.

FabIsGoingToBeFabIn2010 Fri 15-Jan-10 15:22:52

I don't mean this to sound as flippant as it will sound but what about a home birth?

nickname123 Fri 15-Jan-10 15:31:49

I would fight the social services to let my sister care for my son, not them.

But I have never been apart from my son and I would be so angry at them for doing that when it's unnecessary.
I'm thinking of arranging a homebirth so they cannot pull any tricks in the hospital about not letting my baby leave.

I even wonder if I should start saving up money now incase I need to just flee so then I can stay with both of my babies.

I'm trying to do things properly, I have a support worker, a health visitor, a sure start worker and a midwife.
My midwife assured me she would not refer me to social services or any mental health team, as there was no need, and I was very relieved.
But this consultant whom I've never spent more than 10 minutes with saw that I was drained and tired and assumed my mental health is probably lacking too.
So she is taking the very dangerous step of getting all these people involved who can have my babies taken or given at the click of their fingers.
I don't trust any of them at all.
If they visit me on a bad day they can write what they want and have my baby taken and go back to their nice family life.
And I just don't trust social services one bit.

I will reveal why;
Because when I had my son I sneaked a look in my medical records and saw that at one point during my late pregnancy the hospital had instructions not to let my baby leave with me when I was discharged, if I had him before the social services had done their checks yet. They did their checks as I said at discharged me.
But it's very dangerous how they can just leave instructions like that so easily that, without me knwoing anything about it.

ShinyAndNew Fri 15-Jan-10 15:36:27

Have you spoken to your midwife and support worker since his happened? That should be your first step.

nickname123 Fri 15-Jan-10 15:42:50

I have told my support worker (i've only met her 3 times) and she's looking into it for me.
Sadly I've had to change my health people as i've just moved area, so I will have a new health visitor and new midwife :/
Hopefully my old health visitor will stay in touch and stick up for me, she's really nice.

Besom Fri 15-Jan-10 15:51:28

I think you have to get clear exactly what is being said to you here. This is why getting an external body to advocate for you and find out exactly what is going on is a very good idea. There may be organisations in your area who are specifically set up to do this.

Presumably you aren't detained under the mental health act and as far as I'm aware nobody can force you to have treatement/assessment unless you are detained (sectioned). I live in Scotland but am assuming the law in England is similar.

And you will not be detained unless you are currently suffering from a psychiatric illness and lack the insight to make your own decisions, and are putting yourself or someone else at very significant risk.

Obviously you aren't going to want to leave your son anywhere you aren't happy with so they need to discuss this properly with you. Maybe there are other options for assessment and support at home?

As someone said, they would need to prove to a court there was some fairly significant risk to either of your children before taking them away. Your past psychiatric history is very definitely not a reason in itself to do this.

Really, really, please get some independent advice. If you are not in Scotland and cannot find the equivalent body in England (I'm sure there will be one) then phone the MWC in Edinburgh and they will probably be able to tell you.

You do sound frightened and need to get some reassurance.

nickname123 Fri 15-Jan-10 16:02:50

Thank you to everyone who's contributed to this thread, all the advice is vauable and I will reread and dwell somemore :-p

I know I should have rights, but I also know they can be sneaky, if they refuse to let me take the baby home for no good reason and I decide to take the baby home they will say that I'm being careless going against advice, blah blah blah

I wish I lived in Ireland or maybe sctotland would be similar.
In this area there are many stories of them using whatever they can to take their easiest option of just taking a fresh new baby and adopting it out and meeting their adoption targets and getting their bonuses, etc..

Besom Fri 15-Jan-10 16:15:10

But remember it's the court that decides if a baby is removed, not the social worker. They have to argue their case in court. I'm fairly sure that is the same in England.

So this business about adoption targets doesn't add up in that context. Unless you think the judge has some reason to be in cahoots which seems unlikely.

Also, if ss have assessed you in the past and said there was no problem, does that not give you some reassurance?

Again, my best advice is to get some more advice from people who know what they're talking about and can represent your views.

Try not to worry too much - just get some more advice and you will know where you stand.

nickname123 Fri 15-Jan-10 16:35:54

I can imagine judges are very reluctant to disagree with SS as a general rule.
but I appreciate your reassurance.
I'll ask anyone and everyone who can help to get more info on what's up with my case

sandripples Fri 15-Jan-10 16:38:22

Hi. Social Workers don't get bonuses for adoption numbers so don't listen to those rumours.

I agree with the poster who said don't run away, get help from your local GP, CPN, remember that some women do have mental health issues after a birth so the professionals have to take account of this possibility. I think as long as you co-operate , keep talking with the professionals but also ensure you have an advocate or a solicitor on your side, you will be able to show that you have had a long period of stability and that you are able to cope in the future as well.

But you do need someone who can get the position clarified with you. If you don't have a good relationship with your GP then the CAB is another possible source of support to navigate through this.

madmouse Fri 15-Jan-10 16:45:06

Please do not be taken in by the adoption target stories. A child needs to be freed for adoption by a court first and that takes a while. SS need to show there is no way the child would be better off with its own parent/s and this is a lot of work. They need to show that they have given the parents support, advice, education, more support. It can go quicker where previous children have been removed and mum got pregnant again, but that is not the case here.

If you have parented your son without problems for 3 years and you have a support worker who has not reported problems ss will probably keep a watchful eye because they classify you as vulnerable, but there is a huge difference between that and having your baby removed. In addition the mother and baby unit is where they treat mums who are mentally in a bad enough state to be sectioned if they would try to leave - they won't have you there unless you really needed a place. Try not to panic.

NanaNina Fri 15-Jan-10 18:09:19

Agree with madmouse - PLEASE don't listen to scaremongering stuff about social workers "snatching" children for adoption to meet targets and getting bonuses. BONUSES - FGS - what crap. They are not bankers! It is all rubbish. I am a social worker with 30 years experience (now working independently) and I can assure you that removing a child from a mother is a very last resort and sws have to proove in court that absolutely everything has been done to keep the parents and child together. It takes months and months of assessments and judges will NOT just agree with social workers. If they think that insufficent has been done to support the family they will throw out the case.

I can understand your concern as you are clearly a very caring mother but I think you are running away with things here........I am sure that the emphasis at the moment is on ensuring that you and your new baby are OK after the birth. It is common practice these days to find out if mothers-to -be have a psychiatric history, and this is to ensure that if PND occurs the mother gets the support she needs.

Who was going to care for your 3 year old while you have the new baby. Social workers could not remove your child unless they can proove to a court that he is at risk of suffering significant harm. FACT. And social workers don't make the decisions, the courts do that. Social workers provide the evidence for the court to make a decision.

There is no need for this to go anywhwere near courts, so please stop panicking and thinking of not going into hospital. This will work against you and will raise the concerns of the hospital staff. Talk to the HV/midwife/hospital staff about your concerns in a rational way and I am sure you will find that the emphasis will be on supporting you and your new baby. Your 3 yr old should be cared for by whoever was going to care for him while you are in hospital.

Sending you good wishes for the new baby. You sound like you have overcome your problems and wish you well with your 2 children.

thisisyesterday Fri 15-Jan-10 18:19:39

nickname, please don;t be scared,

I was in the same situation as you, I usd to self harm, and i was so scared my baby would be taken away from me,

you do not have to go to a mother and baby unit at all!!!

this is what I would do:

see your GP, ask for advice- s/he presumably knows your history and would be willing to say to them that you are of sound mind now

have an appointment with the perinatal maternal health team- be assessed BEFORE giving birth. if you genuinely feel fine now and haven't SH or anyhitng for ages they WILL believe you and I am almost certain they won't make you stay in a unit after baby is born

you already have a child- this goes in your favour! presumably you were fine after you had him? and have been fine since? your medical records will back this up.

ask if you can have another appt with the maternal health team after baby is born, to make sure you are doing ok (you need them to know that you also take this seriously, even if you know you are fine) and that you have a back-up should you begin to feel depressed again

God, i can't believe they treat people like this. My midwives were all so lovely when they found out about my past problems and totally trusted me when I said I was now fine. I had appts with the mental health team set up for after delivery, none of which i attended as i felt fine!

if you want to CAT me please do

thisisyesterday Fri 15-Jan-10 18:22:25

nickname, what area are you in? if you don't mind saying

nickname123 Fri 15-Jan-10 18:24:40

I would like to think that most social workers are out to help.
The news reports that came out only affirmed what people like me and other's like me have joked about for a long time.
Growing up on a council estate were older children are left to be abused whilst cute young babies are snatched up at the drop of a hat is pretty suspicious.
The amount of babies being adopted tripling after adoption targets were brought in, whilst the adoptions of older children declines- is suspicious.
The fact that many SS departments are in dire need of funds and that meeting adoption targets DOES mean they will secure more funding- makes it suspicious.

But that's a whole different subject.

I will certainly TRY to believe that social workers first priority is to keep babies with mothers and there are no unjust cases.
Of course ANYONE wants to believe that.

LoveBeingAMummy Fri 15-Jan-10 18:30:29

Please listen to ladylush and the others. Just becasue you have moved areas I'm sure that they would contact the people that had been looking after you before for their experience and opinon.

You must not panic, this could stop you from thinking clearly.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now