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will they take my baby away because of my esa benefit history?

(49 Posts)
newtoallthis1974 Wed 23-Apr-14 13:58:25

Hello, i've just found out i am pregnant with my first child, i'm approx 5 weeks. I'm 39 and in a long term relationship. However due to shyness/anxiety i have been longterm on esa benefit and last year fought a tribunal to get into the support group so they would leave me alone. Unfortunately my mother who was trying hard to get the tribunal result we wanted (i wasn't at the tribunal) gave the impression i don't go out alone and can't cope with strangers. Which used to be the case but i am much much better nowadays, though still feel unable to work. I am obviously very worried that social services will get involved and even though i know i can do great and have the support of my partner and a clean good flat that they will want to take our baby into care as they will deem me unsuitable. But i am full of love and have been much improved with people, i have never been violent or any of that side of mental health. If i sign off the ESA now live without any of the money, would the fact that i was ever on it still count against me? Am i looking at months of visits and meeting from people trying to work out if i'm a risk? That in itself is going to upset me deeply. We both love our unborn child and will do everything for it. How soon after i get the test confirmed by my GP would it all get refered to them and all the problems start? I admit at the moment we know very little about any of this! My regular GP that had known me since i was a child retired a few years ago, and the new people at the surgery are not the best - but we will be going next week to get all this confirmed, how soon after that do i see a midwife? When will the hospital appts start? And as i said, am i likely to have my child taken away simply because of the reasons listed above? I'm very worried about what may be already written about me. Thanks for any advice, it's a scary time, i'm unsure what could happen.

22honey Wed 23-Apr-14 14:09:04

Honey I have been on ESA twice in the past for depression and anxiety, I spent a short time in prison on remand for a 'violent crime' (defence against abusive ex boyfriend, didnt actually get convicted after all the time spent in there), I have heard nothing that my baby will be taken off me and am not particularly worried about social services. They won't take your baby unless theres a risk to their wellbeing (which sounds like there isnt). I know some parents with alcohol addictions etc that havnt had their kids taken off them. DP's parents one was an alcoholic the other a heroin addict, they still didn't ever get their kids taken from them.

Someone more knowledgable may come along soon, but the only people I know who have had their children removed were 1. The dad was abusive and self mutilated infront of the children, the mother wouldnt ditch him out her life though was given chances 2. the mother was very young, had 3 babies in quick succession and the dad/partner was abusive, a criminal and involved in the sexual abuse and false imprisonment of a teenage girl. Both pretty serious situations where the risk is pretty obvious. Although I know it is worrying as I also know someone who merely has learning difficulties and her kids cannot live with her (one lives with her mother the other with her ex partner!).

I hope someone else can reassure you more xxx

peeapod Wed 23-Apr-14 14:09:40

Unfortunately you are right (in some ways) to be worried. I have just spent the last month or so proving to social services that we are a good family and we have all the support we need thank you very much.

This was after my first booking in appointment with a midwife who told me that they would like to offer me "support" because of my mental health problems. In actual fact, and to some extent they are right, they are more concerned about the unborn child. However, by placing their needs above yours means you have very little say in what happens.

It is a bit like falling down the rabbit hole in alice in wonderland. once you start by declaring mental health problems or illness it can be a slipperly slope that is difficult to get out of.

However, all that being said (and not said to scare you) it is important to be honest with professionals who are there to ulitmately look after you. My recommendation is to be very clear that your mental health problems are not serious and are well managed etc etc. Ask to be reffered to the specialist mental health midwife service in your area, as they really helped me with social services involvement.

A final point, your benefits and your health are two separate things. I know for a fact that if social services ever had access to my DLA or ESA forms I would be deemed completely unsuitable. However, thats because you have to portray yourself in different ways to get the support you are actually entitled too.

Please don't worry, please be careful and please don't make my mistake of being too honest and falling into their trap of "supporting" which is actually judgement wrapped up in care.

Just because you have mental health problems or any other disability DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD MOTHER...

peachactiviaminge Wed 23-Apr-14 14:10:01

No one is going to take your baby away because you claim ESA. I claim ESA for depression, anxiety and OCD my consultant and CPN both know I self harm and have come very very close to suicide but no one has ever even mentioned the idea of a social services refferal. You are going to be just fine.

You won't see a midwife just yet and possibly not until your first scan at around 12 weeks, you don't have to tell them about your anxiety unless you feel it will help you/your baby for them to know.

Ducky23 Wed 23-Apr-14 14:11:01


I had my booking appt today at 6+6, although this can happen anywhere up to 10 weeks. I assume that once your test is confirmed by your gp you will be referred to a midwife for a booking appt.

In the appt they do ask you if you have any history of mental health and ask questions about your current mental health, if they beleive you are struggling with mental health they refer you to a mental health team for further help.

Unless there is a risk to your child they will not take your baby.

And congratulations smile

Ducky23 Wed 23-Apr-14 14:11:49

Oh and you will usually visit the hospital for your first scan between 10 and 14 weeks smile

newtoallthis1974 Wed 23-Apr-14 14:17:35

Thank you everyone for the replies. I guess i'm just very worried about outside interference, when i feel people are judging me or not believing me that's when i'd be most likely to get very upset.

I'm on "income based ESA", which means when i do move in with my partner further into the pregnancy, the government will stop my money anyway as they deem him able to support you instead of them (thanks IDS and Cameron), so i didn't know whether it would be best to inform the benefit lot in advance and leave - would that make the midwife less quizzy? Or as soon as i answer honestly that no i've never worked and am a bit shy and some anxiety will they refer me? Or if i play that down but then they find out will that make me look even worse?

I'd googled it all before joining here and read some horror stories, so i think that's set me worrying a lot.

22honey Wed 23-Apr-14 14:18:46

peepod, I sympathise greatly with you but think its a bit inappropriate to tell the OP they are right to be worried. You havnt given any personal details (I dont expect you to!) whatsoever as to your situation, what mental illness you have and how it affects you, to show that the OP should be worried about intervention like you've had,

I have serious mental illness running in my family, my maternal gran hung herself, my mum has been hospitalized for depression about 3 times in the past (she also never had her kids taken, because she was a good mum despite it) and I have attempted suicide when I was a teen aswell as been in prison and been on ESA for depression and anxiety, which I took medication for, I spent a short time in care when I was a teenager due to going completely off the rails. I am nearly 24 weeks pregnant now and have heard nothing whatsoever about any mental health or social services referral, although I was not ill or on antidepressants when I booked in, I told the midwife this but also told them about past issues, aswell as telling her about minor drug use when I was younger. None of this appeared to have any affect on them whatsoever, I find it really hard to believe anyone should be 'worried' about social services intervention purely because they are on ESA and have had a few agoraphobia/anxiety problems in the past.

FlyingGoose Wed 23-Apr-14 14:19:11

I was/am on long term esa and Dla when I got pregnant with my twins. Difficulty going out alone, mood disorder, OCD and anxiety. They are now 20 months and have had no social services involvement. I did see a perinatal psychiatrist whilst pregnant and up to the twins being one and she was amazing, got me into a cbt group which is really helping. I think you will be fine. Congratulations btw.

22honey Wed 23-Apr-14 14:23:31

You will NOT be referred to social services because you've never worked, are shy and have a bit of anxiety!

This actually irritates me and annoys me, because its the demonization of benefit claimants that appear to be causing some mums to believe they are that incapable and scummy because they don't work that social services will actually get involved and take their kids. It really angers me!

drivenfromdistraction Wed 23-Apr-14 14:26:42

You won't be referred to SS just for having a disability. Or for being on benefits. Neither are valid reasons for concern about your child's welfare.

newtoallthis1974 Wed 23-Apr-14 14:34:54

Thank you everyone. I appreciate your opinions.

I posted the same original post over on a different forum at the same time, as being new i didn't really know which forum to use.
But the reply over at that one has just accused me of benefit fraud and made me cry, badly. How can some people be so mean and not understand - see is this what the midwife etc could be like too? sad

LittleMissDisorganized Wed 23-Apr-14 14:37:50

Congratulations on your pregnancy!

The services are not nearly as joined up as your anxious thinking is telling you - they do not need to know exactly which benefits you are on and they can't find out.

They will want you to have the best care in pregnancy, and it is a vulnerable time for anyone especially if you have a history of mental health problems. They will need to know honestly how you are doing, and they will want the best for the baby, which will include socialisation, and being amongst other children. They will want to support you to be able to do this.

I think it's possible you may need to speak to the perinatal mental health team, which may or may not include a social worker, but very unlikely your baby will be taken away unless more problems present themselves after baby is here. Try and enjoy some of your pregnancy and your last months of baby-free time!

TheScience Wed 23-Apr-14 14:39:17

Your midwife isn't going to know which benefits you claim and why unless you tell her anyway, so it's up to you exactly what you disclose.

peeapod Wed 23-Apr-14 14:49:55

and I think it is innappropiate to give false reassurances to the OP. She asked for advice and honest experiences and opinions and thats what I gave. You gave your story, I give mine.

It is wrong to label my story as invalid because it was not your experience. My experience was that of an old fashioned and efficious midwife and equally poor social work team.

I am NOT saying that my experience was the norm, and neither should be saying yours is either. There is no "norm" in these situations as they are all unique and individual.

I am not saying with certainty what will or wont happen, but if you look at the common assessment framework which is used by the midwife to make an assessment if they deem it appropriate it clearly states that mental health problems ARE a cause of concern. Page 16 clearly states: Children whose parents / carers/ siblings have chronic long term mental or physical health problems

Yes, I am aware that I was in a very unfortunate set of circumstances, and no I don't want to go into them now or here as its not appropiate. However, I am well supported by the appropiate agencies and still they decided to conduct a throough assessment. I am well educated and so is my husband. I knew that my post would cause this reaction as it has in the past.

You can not say with certainity what will or wont happen so please OP dont dismiss my post as rubbish unless you are going to dismiss everyones posts as rubbish equally.

No, they probably wont do a social services assessment, but they did in my case and I was shocked horrified and completely isolated because of everyones attitudes that it wont happen to me, or you.

22honey Wed 23-Apr-14 15:25:04

Did I say mine was the norm? I actually explained some of my situation to show that actually its worse than whats going on with the OP and I still havnt heard of any involvement, in order to reassure her because given what shes said she has no reason whatsoever to be worried. You posted nothing at all about why social services were involved with you, nothing about your mental illness or partner or lifestyle or whatever could impact social services assessment of you, just that they were involved yet you still told the OP she should be worried because you had intervention. For all the OP or anyone else knows you could have a serious psychotic illness, your partner could have suffered with similar or could be violent, not just some minor agoraphobia and anxiety like the OP has! You shouldnt have to post but because you didn't that means I cannot take you seriously as I know first hand many people who have intervention try to minimise their problems as much as they can (not saying thats what you've done)

So unless your illness is on par with what the OP is going through then yes its inappropriate to tell her to worry, you could be in a much more serious and risky situation than she is.

Someones education level has sod all to do with it.

22honey Wed 23-Apr-14 15:29:37

'Children whose parents / carers/ siblings have chronic long term mental or physical health problems'

the crutch is in 'chronic' and 'long term'. The OP has a bit of anxiety and agoraphobia, and what worries her the most appears to be that she is shy and has never worked!

I think most people would be shocked and horrified at social services involvement, regardless of whether they need it or not.

peeapod Wed 23-Apr-14 15:40:50

how dare you.. really how dare you.

I don't suppose you know how insulting you are being right now do you? Otherwise you wouldn't have posted such a nasty reply.

To suggest that my problems are much worse than the op who also hasn't revealed that much detail is downright disgusting. You are completely dismissing my point as rubbish. I will NOT be forced into disclosing the level or the nature of my mental health problems because it is irrelevant.

The fact remains that due to a midwife who didn't understand mental health problems I was referred to social services via a CAF assessment. I pose no danger to my child and neither does my partner, because as I have stated the result of the assessment is that no further involvement or support is needed. This to me highlights the flawed nature of the process of assessment (in some cases) which is worth bearing in mind when making a disclosure of mental ill health to the appropiate authorities.

it scares the hell out of me when people tell other people not to worry because they are not to know the OP personal circumstances or their areas approaches to mental health and pregnancy.

I pose NO risk to my unborn child and neither does my partner, we never have, but for the last month we have lived with the intensive scruitiny of being subject to a social services assessment where the initmate and personal details of our lives were laid out in front of the social worker. We were forced to be ready for baby in ways that no other parents are, think about things that no other parents should have to etc etc. We were treated like innapropiate parents and had to prove otherwise.

I apolise if I come across as scaring the OP but I wouldn't wish what I had to go through on my worst enemy, hence why I am advising caution with disclosure. As with other posters though the midwife doesn't know your personal financial circumstances and doesn't need to. I would advise seeking advice about your ESA OP as you might be entitled to contribution based ESA depending on your personal circumstances which isn't based on anyone elses income.

peeapod Wed 23-Apr-14 15:41:39

from the OP: "However due to shyness/anxiety i have been longterm on esa benefit and last year fought a tribunal to get into the support group so they would leave me alone. "


peeapod Wed 23-Apr-14 15:42:19

ps. my education does have something to do with it... I have a first class degree in early childhood studies.

TwelveLeggedWalk Wed 23-Apr-14 15:51:19

Surely the key difference between your 'ability' (for want of a better word) to work or have a child is your dp. You're doing this together, he's supporting you, he is a perfectly competent parent also Can he go with you to any appts to present a united front and demonstrate how much solid support you have?

22honey Wed 23-Apr-14 15:59:20

I DID NOT dismiss your point as rubbish! Merely that you cannot say the OP should be worried because YOU PERSONALLY have had social services intervention unless you believe your issues are pretty much the same as hers! She has shyness and anxiety not a long term chronic mental illness! Not to mention according to your table there would need to be several other factors alongside for intervention, and even then such intervention wasn't CPS/taking someones kids off them! You have admitted yourself you have mental health problems, and you havn't had your children taken off you so clearly the OP needn't worry, shes worried about not being able to keep her baby! I'm not trying to FORCE you into posting about your problems, I couldn't care less if you do or not merely you cannot correlate yours with the OP's unless you were in a near identical situation...and no what mental health problems someone has isnt irrelevant in the slightest, if they have serious paranoid schizophrenia for example it may well be they are not fit to look after a child. Its not their fault but thats how it is!

And no, your education level doesn't have anything at all to do with it. Having a degree in childhood studies has no impact whatsoever on whether someones illness or similar means they need extra support or are a risk to their kids. You could be the most educated person in the world but still be unfit to look after a child.

'I pose NO risk to my unborn child and neither does my partner, we never have, but for the last month we have lived with the intensive scruitiny of being subject to a social services assessment where the initmate and personal details of our lives were laid out in front of the social worker. We were forced to be ready for baby in ways that no other parents are, think about things that no other parents should have to etc etc. We were treated like innapropiate parents and had to prove otherwise.'

I'm not saying nor do I believe you are a risk, but according to that table you posted about intervention, you must have had several significant issues for them to go to get involved. As said its pretty normal for people to minimise their problems when social services get involved, after all what they are living is just life to them.

I have had fleeting worry myself but really don't think its appropriate for people to tell others to worry just because they've had social services intervention and thought they didn't need it- most parents that are involved with them don't think the need it!

Clint88 Wed 23-Apr-14 15:59:46

Social services involvement does NOT mean 'unfit parent' or that SS are just waiting to take a child into care.
Starting a CAF (whoever starts it) doesn't mean 'we think this child should be removed from its parents', it means that there are some concerns (which is not automatically sinister!).
perinatal MH services are there to help you, not snatch your baby. The people looking after you and your baby (congratulations by the way!) will want to make sure you are supported to enjoy parenting and to maintain your mental health.
IF you were to struggle coping, which can happen to anyone, the first line would be of support. I work in maternity and ime the only parents who are tutted about are the wilfully neglectful or downright cruel, which is clearly not you.
I hope you get a lovely MW and HV and can relax a bit and open up to any help offered. Take care of yourself and all the best with your pregnancy!

Clint88 Wed 23-Apr-14 16:08:49

Just to clarify about 'concerns', it means a whole host of other things besides 'classic' neglect and abuse.
For eg a parent with an eating disorder MAY have issues feeding a child appropriately, someone with severe depression MAY be unable to interact with a child appropriately, etc, but at the same time can be extremely loving parents and want the best for the child.

Unfortunately the continued demonisation of social workers in particular and lurid headlines about 'stolen' children has contributed to a climate of fear among parents, particularly those like OP who are vulnerable because of health, disability or other circumstances. The vast majority of professionals are motivated to help families be safe and happy together, not to split them up or cause stress. But the welfare of the child is paramount and sometimes that makes it really hard to seem 'fair' to the parents.

starlight1234 Wed 23-Apr-14 16:15:19

Can I say congratulations..

I was on long term incapacity and DLA when I conceived my DS...

I also suffered with Social anxiety disorder., and agoraphobia . I was already under a psychiatrist who liaised with perinatal psychiatrist...

SS were not involved with me or my child. I did have support services around me...

One thing I really wanted to say though was one of the big realizations for me when I conceived is that it isn't possible to hide away from the world. You do need to go out to doctors appointments. give birth and stay in hospital. I had 2 hospital admissions during my pregnancy as well as to give birth. you will need to take them to toddler clubs because they need to run around, you have to take them to school everyday because you can't say I don't feel up to it today. These things motivated me to get well. I have to say it wasn't easy and I had a lot of therapy prior to my pregnancy. but it was worth it for my child.

Also if you are on any medication get it checked out asap need to know it is safe for the baby.

Please don't panic the ESA means you are incapable of parenting but you will have to work at your issues to give your child the best start in life

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