Birth Parents


One of our contributors suggested ALERT would be a good acronym for us to use

I thought of the acronym ALERT standing for.


Attention draw Social Services attention if you feel that there are children at risk or who need additional support.

Listen If the Social Worker is telling you something no matter how hard it is to hear, try to really listen and take in what is being said.

Engage  Always attend meetings, allow Social Workers access to you and the child/ren involved. Show you realise how serious it is and engage with each step of the process.

Respond  If you are asked to do something then act on it. If Social Services raise concerns about the state of your house, clean-up. Your drinking, seek help. A violent relationship, make steps towards ending it etc etc.

Trust  trust that Social Workers aren’t involved as they want to steal your child, trust that they are working within a legal framework and most importantly trust that they are working in the best interest of your child, even if you disagree on what that is.

Blogs from Birth Parents

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.

Advice from birth parents

In this post, a number of birth parents share their views on how they made it through the stress of a child protection investigation and offer insights and advice to those in a similar position. Most of the contributors to this section have shared their stories on parenting forums such as

Relationships with Social Workers

It IS hard to see the wood for the trees, and I think one thing that Social Workers don’t seem to realise is that when you add in the stress of a CIN [Child in Need] case, where you are at risk of losing your DC’s, it puts so much added pressure on a parent that is already under pressure and a victim of DV [Domestic Violence] too, and often EA [Emotional Abuse] that they haven’t yet realised, that it becomes almost impossible for the parent to stop being fearful and stressed for ling enough to see the truth of their situation. I DO feel that a gentler approach from SS would actually in the majority of cases like the OP’s resolve the CIN concerns much faster.”

Need for clear communication about what is meant by ‘abuse’ and why it is harmful

Clearly setting out what constitutes EA [Emotional Abuse} and DV  [Domestic Violence] for the parent would open their eyes to things that they have often been minimising. With examples of each thing that can constitute abuse – including financial. Also stating clearly about the long term effects on a child of living in a DV situation, with possible issues it can cause for the children – NOT everyone knows this, it’s NOT taught about in schools.

Ask them to look at the list, and to answer it honestly, while the SW isn’t present, and going back for a second session with them, being clear about what they need done would also help.

It isn’t easy, as a parent who still loves their partner, to truly see an abusive situation for what it is. And it’s even less easy to know without being told, what you are meant to do to fix it.

It’s very easy for me now, as a 30-something adult, who has BEEN in a previous abusive relationship, to see what you are meant to do.

As a teenage parent, or a young parent, who has no experience of this, how in the name of hell are you meant to GUESS what you are meant to do??!!

And this is, I feel, where SS goes wrong, and stops putting the DC’s first. If SS were clear right from the beginning with handouts that explained everything that constitutes abuse, with examples, it would be far easier to spot when you are being abused. If they also gave clear directions on what is expected in that situation to protect the DC’s, many more DC’s would be protected from living in an environment with DV MUCH FASTER.

And parents who are in an abusive relationship would not feel so confused, fearful, and would be far less ‘obstructive’ in many cases, towards the SW’s attempts at helping.

It’s not always possible to find the time for navel gazing personal reflection to attempt to work out that you are in an abusive relationship andthat you need to get out of it pdq when you are actually coping with being in an abusive relationship, dealing with the day-to-day stuff that comes with having DC’s, AND are fearful of losing your children and not knowing why or how to fix it!

I think that a clearer picture from SS would actually PROTECT far more DC’s from living in a situation with abuse present.