This is a contribution from a mother who wishes to be anonymous.
What happens to the mother?
The first night I walked, literally just kept walking for hours. I wanted to die.
This is a personal story of instant removal of my children. It is a snapshot, with some details left out to protect the children’s identity. I wanted to write it mainly for other mothers to relate to, but also that professionals may increase their understanding of the effect of removal on a parent.
What you would expect, if you have ever seen a distraught mother wailing waiting to see if their child gets pulled out of the rubble of a collapsed building, it was the same level of emotion. The first night I walked, literally just kept walking for hours. I wanted to die.
When a baby grows within you , you develop a relationship with him or her before they are born. You talk to them, you touch them as a they wriggle around, you get to know them.
When my children were born I was blessed enough to have instant love for them alongside with the need to nurture. For me, it had to be give birth then feed, it was what came naturally. I could not take my eyes off the baby.
When my children were taken this need I had to nurture was disregarded, the bond between myself and my children was hacked through and I could not keep them safe. Apart from the devastation it actually appears so surreal that you can not think straight and get the necessary help, for instance I did not contact a solicitor. My sleep was disturbed, I either did not get to sleep or woke in the middle of the night. I had the most horrrendous nightmares mainly about the children being in danger and not being able to help. I struggled to eat or concentrate. Privately I cried ,screamed, swore. I walked around with my head down. Nobody in my local small community talked to me for months , so I was also isolated. I received no support in the first six weeks then I had a weekly, which soon went to fortnightly talking therapy from the NHS for three months.
I know this is a generalisation but men talk about their jobs and woman talk about their children. If I ever went on a course and had to do one of those dreadful ice breaking exercises I would say I was a mum first. When your children are taken your identity is stolen also. I have discussed this with mums who have been bereaved and it is the same experience, some people who knew that you had children will cross the road rather than speak to you, others will not mention it.
What is different, is that some people tried to be helpful and said that you may have a relationship when the children are adults. It is not helpful.
It is unnatural not to be able to care for your children if they are ill, I had an instance when one of my children needed hospital treatment, I struggled to get anyone to take them and eventually when they went I was proved right.
A mum has that sixth sense about their child. It is abnormal to be unable to wish your child a happy birthday or know their shoe size and to only see your children for an hour or two supervised by strangers.
Practically speaking I was left in a mess, I obviously lived in a family sized house, I had all the children’s belongings including pets and because like many I had a special needs child, due to lack of support (another article!) I did not have a full time job. So in the midst of care proceedings I had to weed out the children’s belongings and pack to move to a smaller property. It is also of course expensive to move. So stress on top of stress. As care proceedings were on going every slightest moment I put a foot wrong and quite of number of times I didn’t was recorded and used against me in court.
I believe each family effectively has a template for bringing up children. Good or bad you will bring something from your own childhood and you have your own ideas. I had a mum myself who had encouraged me to have interests, she attended school functions and encouraged me to broaden my mind. I carried that on with my children, I had been involved with the school, I encouraged interests,I tried to create memories for them with high days and holidays.
These values have been obliterated and a different template imposed on my children’s lives. It goes against every instinct.
I think to some extent I have used denial as a tool. I cannot comprehend not living again with my children so I don’t face it as a possibility. I do not think about my children’s futures as it is too bleak. The childhood they are having will not prepare them for a functional adulthood. As a parent it is usual to want the very best for your child, not a backwards step. I am well aware that someone whose child has been adopted does not have this strategy to use.
I have rebuilt my life but it is very different, none of my new friends have children at home. I live a false life, I cannot do the normal motherly stuff like worry about whether they have done their homework or if they are being bullied, bake or even buy clothes for them. I have nothing to do with children and it has affected my employability as well as previously I worked with children.
Some days I feel old before my time, I’m sure this amount of stress will later on come out in physical illness . Most days I cope well, I am kind to myself on the bad days. I can not talk about my children except to those who know me well. Sometimes I think I have spotted my child on the street and there is an incredible sadness when I realise it is a child that looks like mine. I can no longer say I am a mum if I meet someone new, that major part of me has been taken.