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We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

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by K

The second time they took you away is burnt into my memory forever. The fear in your eyes – reflected the fear in mine – as you curled into a ball and hid yourself under your bed, pleading with me to let you stay. This was not the first time we had felt this intolerable pain. Our hearts were broken. My life had spiraled out of control and with it yours too and I felt powerless to stop any of it.

How had we ended up here?

I remember the first-time social services came to visit us, they were worried because Daddy and I were not getting along. They were right to be worried because I could not keep you safe from the violence. When Daddy was sent to prison everything should have got better, but somehow, everything got worse as my mental health and ability to cope deteriorated. 

Social services came more and more often, and things went from bad to worse. When Uncle Craig, my best friend and my closest support, was taken from us in a tragic accident, our world began to unravel. The more I depended on drink and drugs to get me through the dark days and darker nights, the less you and your brother could depend on me. I cannot begin to comprehend how difficult it must have been for you aged a little over two years old and not knowing where you belonged in the world. 

It was not my choice to separate you from your brother. That choice was taken from me after a sibling assessment cruelly decided that taking away the only bond you had left was the best option for you both. I had lost any voice in the matter. I had failed you again my love. Social services moved you back and forth deciding each placement was unsuitable. How were you to know how loved and wanted you were by all of us with all this going on? 

The day they moved you to your guardian’s house 300 miles away, I was given no notice. I received a phone call from a neighbour an hour before informing me that I needed to come and say goodbye.  

How could I? I panicked and broke down. I cannot imagine how you felt – you must have been so afraid. I was unable to console myself and I could not turn up and pretend that I was okay with my baby being taken from me again. I was not given enough time to process this shocking information and I stayed away, thinking that I would only make it harder for you. This   is a decision I will regret forever.  I could not sleep. I could not eat. I just wanted the pain to end. I made several visits to you in the beginning but the pain of leaving you left me suffocating in grief for all that we had lost.  I wanted to die. In and out of hospital, a broken mess, I felt you were better off without me. I had nothing left and again I failed us. 

The next few years were spent alternating between addiction and recovery. The hardest part of recovery is finding the strength and resilience to face everything that has happened, every bad decision and every wrong turn. I fell short of the courage required many times, but I did not give up.

My official clean date is the 8th Feb 2020. The first day of the rest of our lives. Before this date I had written to you many, many times but your carers decided that it was better not to give you my letters or gifts. I hoped with all my heart that you did not think I had forgotten you, because not a day, or a minute went by, that I did not think of you.

The only way I could get any access at all to you was to go to court, which I did. Thankfully, everyone involved in the process including your legal guardians could see how far I had come, and I was granted letterbox contact, leading to supervised and then unsupervised access. Covid delayed everything between me and you and by the time I saw you, I had regular weekend contact with your brother and our relationship was going from strength to strength.

I want so badly to have the same relationship with you that I have with your brother, but again, it is out of my control. Your guardian’s felt that you needed more time and whilst my relationship with T grows stronger every day, in your case the barriers are raised higher and faster.

Now every two months I get to drive the 600-mile round trip to see you. No amount of distance will ever be too far because you are loved beyond measure, and I will never give up on us again. Mummy is strong and resilient, I can only hope you are too, I believe you are, and I will never stop fighting for you.

You are my sunshine.

Love from your mum xxxx

About the author

K is a new Family Rights Group parents’ panel member, who is in recovery from addiction and has experience of domestic abuse, mental health, and addiction. She loves spending time with her family, sports and developing herself as an individual. 

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