We are very grateful to the birth parents who have agreed to share their stories with us. We hope that their insights and experiences will be valuable for everyone who works in or alongside the system.
Here you will find a blog from a birth parent who was not able to keep her child.
She agreed to share with us some of her experiences of losing her child.
I am 32, and my birth daughter, who is now 7, was adopted a year ago. She was taken into care after 3 reported incidences of being drunk in charge of a child. I got her home 6 months later, but then it happened again. She never spent another night in my care, or even another hour unsupervised in my company. I continued with drinking binges after she was removed, until I conceded defeat and that I couldn’t get well for her, that Social Services should do as they were planning, which was that for her own best interests she should be placed with adoptive parents. Each of the initial incidences was reported to Social Services by my family members.
I am an alcoholic. I never signed up for alcoholism, in my life as a single parent with a successful professional career. Alcoholism is no respecter of gender, ethnicity, social class, education level or religion. It affects the way that you think. You think it won’t be that bad. This time I’ll be able to stop. It’ll never really happen to me. I’m in control, I’m not that bad, I can still take care of my child, no-one will find out. Lies, all lies, to justify that the drink is ok, and pretend that it hasn’t taken that primary place in my life above my girl, my career, my health, my finances, my God, and my self respect. I couldn’t even stop for my beautiful, creative, loving, and very special daughter. It is a madness of the mind, the emotions, the body and most importantly the soul. This is what proves incontrovertibly to me that I had become powerless to stop in my own strength.
This is the worst grief I have ever experienced. I was 9 months sober by the time she was placed. I never stopped loving her, and I have never stopped missing her, and longing that things could have been different, that my recovery could have started sooner, that I could have been the best person for her to be with. I have had to admit that, for her own best interests, it was better for her to be adopted and settled with loving and secure parents, than remain in the care system in the hope that I got well. Except that then, I did get well, and have faced losing her, in sobriety.
If I want peace, for and within myself, I must learn to live with the inconsistencies of Social Services. I know many women who are alcoholics who have done what I did who still have their children, either because Social Services never found out, or because they decided that despite the problems the children were still better off with their parents than removed from them. When I am crying “it’s not fair” I am trying to wriggle out from what I have done – and what I have done is extremely wrong and damaging to a young child who was powerless to escape from it. Children cannot and should not have to wait until their parents get well. This is the spirit of the law in this area of child protection and it is true and it was true for my daughter. However I do want to also highlight that she never missed school, was always fed and clean and bathed and we read stories, we spent endless hours making things, and there had been no other concerns at any times, Social Services could find no emotional or psychological problems, apart from the normal distress caused by separation from her mother. There is an assumption that children who are removed are unclean, unfed, absent from school, and there are concerns from all who encounter them. Not always.
And I must grieve in silence and in private. The world does not want to hear of my grief, the primal wound that results from a mother forcibly separated from her child, because it is an unpleasant story, and I am the villain in it. And yet I must grieve. In the midst of all this, I am hurting and I have relinquished the way I had learned to cope with pain, in substances. I miss her and I love her and this hurts every part of me and some days I feel like it will consume me. I cry out to God that I am hurting and that I am grieving in the midst of terrible guilt and shame and I can’t sort all this mess out. This isn’t clean grief – having lost my mum almost 3 years ago, I know that grief too – but that is right, in the natural order of things, because children at some stage should lose their parents. My mum was young, but still, it is a clean and acceptable grief. For my daughter these feelings are complicated. I love my little girl, and I miss her with a pain that is physical, in the way it eats me up, she is lost and she is gone. I am joining one of society’s most unwanted and disliked groups, but giving this process a voice, to bring my shame and grief and hurt out of the dark where it cannot resolve, into the light might help someone else, perhaps who is facing this threat. And as I continue to cry out in pain, in prayer, for my daughter, that she will grow up loved, and if at all possible secure, and healed.