19 January 2017 | 2 °C

Don't Have Babies In Bexley

By Hazel Last edited 113 months ago
Don't Have Babies In Bexley
DontHaveBabiesInBexley.jpg

A 20-year old woman identified only as Michelle has made public the sad cases of separation from her children enforced by social services in Bexley, south-east London. Michelle had her first child aged 13, her second at 16 and a third before she turned 20. All three children were taken from her by Bexley social services and put up for adoption and she herself was put into foster care. She was allowed very little time with each child before they were taken from her, 17 days maximum for her second child while her third child was removed at birth while she was still in hospital. Now she has a fourth child by her partner who is father to all her children, this child has been taken from her too.

Social services were perhaps right to separate mother and child when Michelle was 13 and 16 - after all, a child cannot care for a child appropriately. However, she describes her fear of social services separating her from her third child, and how she gave another name at the hospital to avoid detection. It seems she was keen to keep this third child, but was found by Bexley social services and the child taken from her. Even having moved to a different borough to have her fourth child to escape Bexley social services, the authorities located her and put her fourth baby into care and now the case is in court, with this fourth child currently up for adoption. She was apparently told that any children she has will be removed from her care, at birth, which suggests she will be monitored and identified wherever she goes, at whatever age, as an unfit mother.

Michelle had more time with the fourth child, and claims to have felt more bonded and prepared for motherhood. After three previous children and leaving her teenage years behind her, this could be taken as a sign of maturity and responsibility; it is also indicative of what a difference it makes when mother and child are allowed to bond. When the mother is allowed to be a mother, it is surprising and impressive to see what instincts come to the fore - if only that opportunity is not denied.

Having unplanned babies aged 13, 16 and a third time before leaving one's teenage years is irresponsible behaviour, but these are not crimes and should not warrant indefinite persecution. A person's capacity for change is remarkable, if only given the chance to change. If this is a case of teaching Michelle a lesson, it seems an extreme and unfair one, with little to be gained except eternal condemnation as an unfit mother. It is sad that she might not be given any opportunities to prove herself otherwise. We hope that eventually mother and baby will be reunited and that faith in a mother's capacity to care is restored. The case continues.

Last Updated 01 August 2007

guest

Oh dear what appalling opinionated nonsense.

The idea that the social services just turn up and take your child away is ridiculous. Go and read the Children's Act 1989, especially the bit about 'significant harm'

I wonder what you would be harping on about if these children were left in their parent's care and suffered harm and possibly death, this does happen you know. Probably about the useless social workers who did nothing to 'save the children'

"If this is a case of teaching Michelle a lesson" - no, its about protecting children from being harmed and abused.

If you are going to masquerade as some kind of quasi news source, at least do your job properly and go and get the other side of the story

Tossers

consider yourself unsubscribed

guest

ditto the above - how one sided can you get? and of course, the council cannot legally speak to its reasons for acting as it has, making it an even more lopsided story.

councils have too many children in care as it is - they're not out scouting for new ones.

guest

maybe they should have just cut her tubes after the first one?!

siany

The authorities have failed her. They haven't helped her, or given her any support. This is the worst part of it - by the sounds of it she hasn't had any support network after losing her children. Yes, they may have been taken away for good reason, after all I don't think anyone would want to break up a home and a family, but it doesn't stop there. What about grief counselling? No wonder she feels let down.

Do we really need to stress again to the education secretary that the current sex education programme in schools DOESN'T work?

guest

"maybe they should have just cut her tubes after the first one?!"
- Enforced sterilisation??? No, no, no, no! If that is the next logical step in this story, it's worse than it seems...

"councils have too many children in care as it is - they're not out scouting for new ones."

"I wonder what you would be harping on about if these children were left in their parent's care and suffered harm and possibly death, this does happen you know. Probably about the useless social workers who did nothing to 'save the children'"

There are many children who should be taken into care but are not. There are many children who are taken into care who would have fared better staying with their families.

Social services are damned if they do, damned if they don't but seem to be unwilling to re-asssess their methods in this case as Michelle's circumstances change with each child. Why not leave the children with the mother if she is willing to care for them? Why not assess her capability on a case-by-case basis and help her care for the child and not add to the over-stretched system?

The resources needed to legally separate mother from child, put the child into care, put the mother into care and then do it all over again the next time she gets pregnant probably comes to the same amount of resources for social services to house mother and baby together, teach the girl about contraception and child care, put her into appropriate housing and childcare schemes. Treating her as an adult instead of the 13-year-old she was when she first entered the system would be a far more beneficial way of .

"If this is a case of teaching Michelle a lesson" - no, its about protecting children from being harmed and abused."

We've already seen a suggestion to have Michelle sterilised - what about protecting her rights from being harmed and abused? There are two people in this case, the mother and the child. The story is lopsided but it is not so unbalanced that it forgets that.