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Pregnant after having child removed at birth(471 Posts)
Hi all, I'm desperate for some advice and would appreciate feedback from anybody who works in social work, has experience in law or has had personal experience with dealing with social services in subsequent pregnancies after having a child removed.
Im 24 yrs old. When I was 18 I was in an abusive relationship with a man who had an extensive criminal past of DV. He was known to social services due to his first born child being taken from him and an ex at approx 1 years old and the child was subsequently adopted.
I was young, naive and didn't know all the facts - he hadn't yet hurt me by the time I fell pregnant and I underestimated the risk he posed to me. I had no family in the area and was very isolated.
When I fell pregnant he became abusive, emotionally and verbally. I confided in a midwife at my first antenatal appointment with my concerns about his past and how he was acting with me now and i was referred to social services. They were involved with me from being 13 weeks pregnant, visiting the home and asking me to attend sure start centre classes which I did.
When I began to worry about removal I asked my SW whether I could move to another city closer to my family to help my case away from the father and I was specifically told not to because it would 'disrupt' the assessment process.
I found my sw to be very unhelpful and at 36 weeks pregnant they told me would go to court and remove my baby at birth without offering any alternative intervention despite me doing everything they'd asked. Prior to the PLO meeting which I was prevented from attending (my then solicitor was not acting in my favour) I again asked if they would support me leaving the town with my baby and I was told no, stay, no final decisions had not been made yet.
I don't feel as though I was given any support or encouragement to leave this man throughout my assessments and I accept I could have upped and left but I was young vulnerable isolated and very much under his control.
When baby was born at 38 weeks it was a Saturday, out of hours social services arrived at the hospital and told me they'd apply to court on Monday to remove my son. Foolishly, out of panic, I left the hospital with my son and took him home against their instructions. They told the hospital to call the police who came and got us, returning us to the ward where we had to stay until the social worker came to remove him on the Monday.
I didn't attend court as my solicitor said I was too emotional and it was best she go on my behalf. She said it would look better if I didn't oppose the order as it showed me accepting there was risk. I trusted her and agreed for her to go and speak on my behalf, again, and tell the court I don't oppose the interim care order being made temporarily. She didn't make me aware of any other options such as mother and baby units or mother and baby foster placements.
Order was granted on the grounds of my son being "at risk of emotional harm" and he was then taken from the hospital.
Back at home the physical abuse started where he would attack me and shortly after so did the sexual abuse. My ex coerced me into prostitution, which I am painfully ashamed to admit. I was in my own admission smoking cannabis as I struggled to cope with what was happening.
Social services had included in their mitigation that I had mental health problems which isn't the case, I've never been known to mental health services although I did have a very short period where I felt low, aged 16, where I was on antidepressants following the death of my grandparents.
While this was going on I continued to fight for my son in court, I sacked my solicitor who wasn't helping me whatsoever and began to represent myself for a period before I hired another. In my admissions I put my side across and the magistrates ruled that social services had not supported me properly prior to removal and they believed I should be given a chance to show I can look after my son. They ordered a mother and baby unit be found and me and my son taken there to be assessed properly, They wanted this done within a matter of weeks. I left the court feeling positive but scared as I knew babies dad would do something to sabotage this process and there was no orders put in place to stop him coming to my house (he had moved out and in with his mother by this point - at my request - albeit unwillingly)
Babies father didn't want this to happen as it would mean him losing control of me and me being away from him, so in the following week after the magistrates ordering social services to source a placement - he made my life hell. There was police logs from him attending my home and he sent to the social workers and court multiple indecent photographs of me telling them I'm a prostitute and unfit to be a mother.
Social services used this new information to appeal against the magistrates ruling and 'stay' the process of reuniting me with my baby in a mother and baby placement. My case was then transferred to another court in a nearby town as a result and as my son was over 6 months old by this point they wanted to conclude the case, they wanted adoption.
In one final bid to prevent the adoption I gave up my home and fled to a women's refuge where he later found me (it was a very small town and I believe somebody told him). He continued to make my life hell and I confided in the social worker about the extent of the abuse, begged them for support and was given none. My son's case concluded as adoption shortly after and there was nothing more I could do.
My ex continued to trouble me for several years. I had pressed charges for a number of assaults throughout the years, and also two counts of rape, he went on the run but unfortunately there was insufficient evidence and the CPS dropped the charges. Throughout everything I only ever managed to have him convicted of a public order offence due to a neighbour seeing him chase me down the street on an occasion shouting threats.
By the time I was 22 i was still getting grief from him and i finally found the strength to leave town. I moved to a city where my few family members were and began to rebuild my life. I was no longer smoking cannabis and suffice to say the prostitution was a thing of the past, that was only ever a factor when he was in my life- it's not something I enjoyed doing or wanted to do of my own accord.
I moved in with a relative, got a full time job and built up a good relationship with my son's adopters via our letterbox contact. I was happier and healthier than I had been in years. I missed my son painfully but accepted that adoption was the best thing for him at the time, it took me a long time to accept that.
At 23 Whilst working I met an amazing man who was a colleague, he was accepting of my past and very supportive - he had fathered two children himself and although separated from their mother he was an exemplary example of a father. You couldn't fault him. We fell pregnant but sadly lost the baby early on. Much to our delight we conceived again shortly after (this baby was very much wanted)
There was no doubt in my mind we could parent the baby well, I had a good support network around me now and he is a great man. He has no criminal record, a decent sturdy job and most importantly he is a kind man. I had turned my life around completely
I began to become frightened. Due to my past experiences with my old social workers I developed an irrational fear that our baby would be taken, so at my first antenatal appointment when the midwife asked if I had any previous social services involvement I told her no - I can't believe how stupid I was but I can't stress enough how scared I was. The fact i had miscarried not too long ago contributed to my decision, I wanted a stress free pregnancy and didn't feel as though I was ready to deal with social workers again after having such bad experiences with them before. I told them I had an older child just not that he had been adopted.
No referral was made and my pregnancy progressed well. Me and my partner saved up for a lovely little flat, a perfect place to bring our baby home to, and began preparing for his arrival.
As my due date approaches (I'm almost 31 weeks) I've been getting increasingly scared about giving birth and social services turning up to the hospital when I have our baby. My partner has never dealt with these authorities and believes they won't, but I'm frightened that something will come up on my file that will trigger them to come and remove him straight away as I've not been assessed since losing my son.
I accept that I will have to deal with social services at some point as I can't hide the past forever but naively I believed I could conceal it long enough to bring him home and evidence that I, that we, can be a loving and adequate family.
Can anybody tell me where I stand? Please no judgement. I'm already being very hard on myself losing sleep. I've contemplated referring myself to social services this week but am absolutely petrified of doing that. I'm equally as scared of them turning up at the hospital. Will this be the case despite me being in a different city hundreds of miles away?
The ex is very much out of my life and non existent these days. There's no police involvement or multi agency involvement for anything at all.
Oh goodness. I have no experience of this, but didn't want to read and run. I can't imagine that SS would have any worries about you or your baby. Could you confide in your midwife and see what she says?
Oh you poor thing
So sad to read
I think you need to own up though best to be honest
You need to get expert advice. As your circumstances have changed and you're no longer with your son's father they won't be looking to remove your new baby, and it's understandable that you panicked when asked about previous SS involvement, but for your peace of mind it's important to get this all out in the open.
I could, and am considering that. I just wanted a bit of advice first to see what the best course of action would be. She is lovely my midwife but I'm well aware that she would probably have to make a referral if I were to tell her about the adoption x
She would have to make. Referral but it wouldn't be to have the baby removed, just to assess that you're not at risk or still with ex partner and to ensure you have support when the baby is born.
Family Lives is a good first step, ask for details of support around SS and previous adoption.
I would think your new relationship is much more stable and not a risk to your unborn child. You are not in an abusive relationship now so I don’t think you should worry.
The issue with your DS was your partner at the time. You werent considered to be a risk to him. Your current partner is not known to SS, so this child would not logically be considered s at risk.
Although the original case does seem to have been badly handled,it sounds like your DS was genuinely at risk. I think more effort could have been made to help you get out of your situation and to leave with your son but in terms of keeping him safe it seems clear he couldn't live with your ex.
This seems like a totally different situation and SS would need to show risk to your child in your current living conditions which doesn't sound like there are any.
I would definitely advise taking action now though. Whilst you are pregnant you are in better shape to deal with things plus you can get things sorted now and relax for the end of your pregnancy.
Maybe contact the Family Rights Group who can give impartial advice? helplines.org/helplines/family-rights-group-2/
I am so sorry you have had this awful experience but your past does not preclude you from being an excellent mum.
Does anybody know whether anything will be flagged at the hospital? I'm bracing myself for an assessment but was hoping not to have to go through all of that whilst pregnant and wanted to get baby home with me and dad first
You, like many young women, have had a turbulent and difficult start to your adult life. I have seen firsthand the spiralling horror and coercion that some manipulative and aggressive men bestow upon their partners. However, It does sound like you have totally transformed your life and well done for that. You express yourself in a very mature, articulate way. I know you are scared and probably quite rightly so. If I were in your situation I think, personally, I would just stay quiet although I am not advising you to do so necessarily. It's a complex situation. Mostly social services want to keep families together so hopefully they would look on you favourably and give you any support that you may require. Your new partner will soon be a father to 3 children and that is a huge undertaking. I truly hope that things continue to go well for you and that you find the happiness you so deserve.
I would go and see a solicitor and see what they advise. I’ve worked with lots of mums in similar positions to you who have gone on to keep babies in their care. The main thing social services will want to see is what has changed since your first baby was taken into care and how things will be different for this baby. It sounds like a lot has changed - you’ve got a supportive partner, you’ve moved away, hopefully you’ve got more support where you are, and in 6 years you will have changed and matured.
As I think you’ve realised it’s not great that you didn’t tell the midwife the truth but I think anyone would understand why you didn’t.
Actually you do want ‘judgement’ - you want a social workers judgement of the situation
It’s criticism you don’t want.
So in my opinion (not a social worker but someone who works for social services) - your name may flagged at the hospital (the previous pregnancy will be on your notes) there will likely be an assessment.
There is no reason I can see that you won’t pass in the info you’ve given - actually you want them to come and visit you and see how stable you are. You want to be as open as possible. I’d be contacting them in advance.
I completely appreciate the circumstances of your last relationship- the bottom line to social services is that you didn’t safeguard your pregnancy and baby by getting away from that man. They didn’t help you (which is dreadful) but that’s what’s going to be on your notes.
I think it would be far better coming from you, and at least it's out there in the open rather than you worrying at every knock on the door. You are older, in a different relationship and I'm sure the SS would double check your circumstances but the issue last time isn't there now. This stress and worry can't be good for you. I'd talk to your midwife.
Have you told your MW you have been pregnant before (twice) and had a baby? Did she ask about that baby? These are questions MWs ask (and need to know) as it makes a difference to your care more than anything else.
You cannot hide the SS involvement and adoption, so it's best to come clean about it. I would get some professional advice first.
I’m not a social worker but a lawyer who worked for many years in care proceedings. This would be my advice.
Firstly, you need to tell your midwife about the previous involvement. One thing that social services always look for is whether a parent can work openly and honestly with them about any concerns they have. I understand you were very scared but they may view it as concealing a pregnancy, and you can only mitigate that by coming clean yourself.
Secondly, your new partner does not sound high risk. But was there anything they said about you in the first proceedings? I say this to be constructive. Sometimes they will recommend a course or some counselling or some other kind of work for a parent in order to improve their ability to safely parent. If anything was recommended, and you haven’t yet done it, get on with it urgently.
Finally, if social services do want to do an assessment, co-operate. Be honest and acknowledge your past mistakes - this shows insight. Parents come unstuck when they (understandably) resent the social services involvement and don’t work with them. This isn’t always easy especially if you don’t trust your social worker but it is important.
The stress of you worrying will do you and your family no good. You need to get it out in the open and deal with whatever comes your way.
I can only imagine the fear you are going through. I have some experience professionally of family law and children being taken into care but not enough to provide advice.
Speak to your partner then see and speak to your MW team. It is better to speak with them now than it flag on your notes at hospital when your LO is born.
May I also just say, and I hope it sounds as intended and not patronising, well done on getting out of what sounds like an horrendous life before and making anew.
Best of luck and keep us posted.
I should say your post demonstrates (to me) a very high level of understanding and insight into the risks your previous partner posed and the things you did which you regret and accept were not sensible eg leaving the hospital. That’s a really good sign, as is the fact your partner is supportive. Lots of reasons to be positive.
RE my midwife: at my first appointment I was asked if id had any previous children. I said yes a 4 1/2 year old and I also miscarried a pregnancy in March.
The next question was whether I'd ever had any involvement with social services to which I replied no.
I actually had a social worker when I was very young myself, as my mother had mild learning difficulties and thus didn't have the greatest of provisions. My childhood wasn't ideal but that was due to my mother's limited capabilities as opposed to neglect. I didnt want to mention that neither just incase that triggered a referral itself.
After my first appointment I was allocated a different midwife who I've seen the entirety of my pregnancy. The initial lady I saw was only there to sign me up, ask the initial questions and give me my notes.
Nothing about my son has ever been pressed in subsequent meetings with my long-term midwife, the info in my notes was just taken at face value.
I've seen consultants at the hospital for tests and extra scans as up until 28 weeks I had placenta previa, baby is also measuring slightly larger than average. Nothing has ever been flagged nor mentioned at those appointments either
I couldn't read and run, your back story is heartbreaking and your solicitor and social workers didn't just let you down they failed you horrendously! You were a young, vulnerable victim of abuse and they should've done everything possible to support you and help you find somewhere safe to live and away from your abusive DP. Your story of their incompetence is shocking and sadly it really does sound as if they had the goal to take your baby from you all along. Absolutely appalling.
I can't offer you any 'professional' advice but if I were in your shoes I wouldn't make SS aware you are expecting another baby. As you have said, you are in a VERY different place now, you are with a different man who doesn't pose a threat to you or your baby and doesn't have a criminal record. Your midwife doesn't have any concerns re your wellbeing or that of your baby so she hasn't informed SS.
Seeing as how they failed you so horrendously last time, I wouldn't bring this baby to their attention BUT I would DEFINITELY get legal advice just in case.
Good luck OP you deserve to be happy! x
I am a social worker and would agree with advice given here that you need to tell the midwife. A referral will be made and an assessment be undertaken. It does not automatically mean that baby will be removed. The assessment will explore what has happened between then and now. My LA has a procedure that a child protection conference will be held for all unborn children who's parent has previously had a child removed. At this meeting your views and experiences and all professionals views will be listened to. It's likely that you will have a social worker which might only be for a short period of time to ensure that a plan of support is given to you and baby
Please be honest and speak to midwife. We are not all awful people and do want to support families but we need to know the facts. Not saying anything may lead people to think that you have something to hide
Good luck OP. It sounds like you have had a period of reflection and change
Hannah I felt absolutely desperate for you reading your opening post and I was hoping so desperately that you would say that you have been reunited with your son. I really cannot understand what you must have gone through and still going through. It sounds too painful. And I can see how the lack of support from SS has put the fear in you. I don't know what to suggest to you but in your place I would have done the same you have done now. You need legal advice pronto.
To answer your question McTufty the things social services raised against myself during proceedings were:
My seeming to minimise the risk myself and baby were at.
Alleged mental health issues. (I don't have mental health problems, barring i went to the GP aged 16 and was on antidepressants for a couple of weeks after my grandparents died.
The fact I'd had a difficult childhood as a result of my mother's capabilities to parent me properly (though i was never taken into care and was subject to either child in need or cpp- I don't remember which as it was many years ago)
I was isolated with no family around me in the area.
And later on in proceedings when it came to light they said that my use of cannabis was a concern, although wasn't from the start of their involvement, and was only minimal and not excessive (I haven't touched it for many years now)
Also my lifestyle as a result of my 'occupation' as they put it at the same, basically the prostitution whilst I was with the ex (that only started after baby was born so wasn't a reason for his removal)
Their concerns started purely with father's past, when I began representing myself that's when they started pointing fingers at my own past
I so want to tell you to go back and fight that adoption and get your son back but I don't know whether it's right for your son now as he must be settled in his life. I don't understand how this was allowed to happen. Why you were given no support away from this man. Why were you not moved away somewhere at the deep end of this country. I really want to tell you to make a complaint to the highest authority to look into how the system let you down so badly.
You got pregnant with a man you'd known less than 6 months? I'd be surprised after your history if they weren't involved.
I think it'd be better to be honest now than caught lying later on. You need to show you've grown up and will willingly work with them and that can cope on your own this time.
It's very worrying that you didn't tell midwives your son was adopted. In most cases where that had happened, they will need to reassess your circumstances before any subsequent babies are born. The fact that you've left it so late to tell anyone could go against you, as they may feel they have no time to reassess you, so may go on previous risk and assume the worst. They could have your baby removed pending an assessment, on the basis that you covered up your past involvement and that they now don't have time to do a pre-birth assessment.
I really really urge you to tell somebody. It will work out more in your favour than if they twig-on to you hiding it.
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