Surviving Safeguarding…or There And Back Again.

I want to tell my story, in an effort to explain why I have chosen to write this Blog. It’s not a pleasant or an easy tale to tell. What I have been through in so many ways defines me, which, when you read my story, is very sad. But it is because it defines me that I want to tell you and…well…this is me.

The nature of the matter, and the fact that I, and my children have been subject to public law proceedings requires me to anonymise my story. As such, there are parts that might read a bit strange. For example, I use “my child” and gender neutral vocabulary at times, and my grammar has (toe-curlingly) had to take a back seat. I have also added (in brackets and italics) explanations of terms used within the Child Protection process. But, other than that, my story is verbatim.

This story is my life, and all that I am. I am happy to answer any questions, where I can, or take any comments on the chin.

I’ve always tried to be a good mother, that I know, but my mental health hasn’t always been stable as a result of a very traumatic childhood.

I was physically, sexually and emotionally abused by my biological Father, and neglected and disregarded by my Mother, causing me to spend time within the care system. This had the consequence that I was drawn to abusive and inappropriate relationships with men, whilst desperately searching for love, acceptance and a family.

As such, I had a number of children by a number of Fathers, most of whom abandoned us. Admittedly, I have made mistakes throughout my life and on reflection, I have let my children down at times by prioritising abusive relationships over them. I have always struggled with my mental health as a result of my abuse as a child which has also impacted on my children. I have had two breakdowns in my life and my mental health has been acute at others.

My first breakdown in 2007, during an emotionally abusive relationship, resulted in me approaching the LA for help as I had no family I felt the children would be safe with. My children were accommodated under a Section 20 (a voluntary placement with foster carers where a parent retains 100% Parental Responsibility) for around three months, during which the LA were relatively supportive and helpful. My children were returned under a Child Protection Plan (an agreement with the LA to adhere to certain requirements, such as unplanned visits by Social Workers, in order to ensure the children and parents are safe and well) and within six months the case was closed.

In 2010, one of my children was diagnosed with a condition that explained their meltdowns and increasingly frightening behaviours. My child requested to go in to LA care of their own volition, no longer feeling able to live in a family unit. I missed my child desperately and saw it as a rejection, but had no choice other than to accept it. Once again, the LA were reasonably supportive and helpful.

I then got into another abusive relationship in 2011, my mental health having spiralled after my child had left home. I was very vulnerable and the relationship ultimately turned violent. My mental health was so acute at that point that I truly felt the children would be better off without me and I took a massive overdose. I made arrangements for the children to be collected from school, but did not think about the rest of their lives. I could absent myself from responsibility and say that it was because I was so mentally ill. Yes, I was, but my behaviour was not that of a mother and I am truly ashamed I took that course of action. I should have thought of my children first and last.

I asked the LA for help at that point once again, having left the relationship and got to a refuge. The LA helped with my children, but the dynamic changed and they wouldn’t permit them to return to me. They said they feared I would engage in another inappropriate relationship in the future and subsequently have another breakdown. They said “future risk of emotional harm” and issued proceedings. I understand entirely now why they took that course of action, but at the time I was in absolute despair, screaming inside for my children, and sharply plummeting into self-destruct.

It had become a “battle” with the LA. No longer were they ‘supportive’ and ‘helpful’, but invincible and indomitable. A Psychiatric Report and a Psychological Report (these are commonly commissioned during Child Protection Proceedings to provide evidence to the Court) both stated I needed two years of Therapy. My solicitor told me to face facts, it was hopeless.

I felt crushed, lost, alone.

I had been a mother since my mid-teens – who was I without my children? They were all I knew.

I continued to make poor choices and fell pregnant once again during the Proceedings. I knew the LA could try to take my unborn baby so battled with a termination. I was booked in at 11 weeks. I couldn’t do it.

The Proceedings concluded at the IRH (Issues Resolution Hearing – the “last chance” for everyone to agree before a contested Final Hearing), my eldest, being ‘of age’, came home to me and it was agreed my child who had left home of their own volition would stay under a Section 20 with unlimited, unsupervised contact (as I was in agreement).
Two children stayed in Long Term Foster Care under a full non-contested Care Order (this means the LA share Parental Responsibility with parents, but the LA have the ultimate say in important decisions such as schooling etc) but with weekly, supervised contact (it is normal to have supervised contact when children are in Foster Care however the frequency is normally 6 times per year). This was devastating for us all, but agreeing to the Order safeguarded my contact.
Another child stayed with their Father under a Residence Order – now known as a Child Arrangement Order – but with daily contact.

Mere days after Proceedings ended, my ex-partner absconded with this child and cut all contact. I had to issue private law (contact) proceedings as Litigant in Person (representing myself, no lawyer) at seven months pregnant, answering wild accusations made by my ex-partner.

The LA then used these accusations, as well as my history, as evidence I wasn’t stable. I was told the LA would try to take my baby at birth and have him or her adopted in case I ever got into another abusive relationship, or suffered another mental health issue.

I was advised to flee the country by John Hemmings (then an MP) and Ian Josephs. “Go to Ireland”.
I nearly did. But I couldn’t leave my other children. So I stayed here, with my due date growing closer each day – in the full knowledge that going into labour sparked the end and that I could lose my baby forever.

I gave birth to my baby after a horrific labour, and the LA issued Proceedings shortly after. We were forced to remain in hospital, neither of us permitted to leave. Despite LA submitting in court there was no immediate risk of harm (in theory, for a baby to be removed there usually has to be an immediate risk of harm, as in death, but in practice it doesn’t often work like that), once I read the Case Summary, I knew it was over.
I was put on the stand, just a few days postnatal, hardly able to walk, bleeding heavily, leaking breast milk and made to fight. I did my best but I was so traumatised and terrified. I met the Children’s Guardian (they represent the child in Court and are independent) during the Hearing, I never stood a chance. The LA requested only once per week contact as they “didn’t want me to bond”; the Judge refused and gave me three times weekly.

My baby was taken from me at a few days old out of my arms and from our hospital bed, on a “future risk of emotional harm”.

I screamed when they took him. A guttural, primal scream.

I left hospital with empty arms, an empty uterus, and a breast pump given to me by LA as I was still exclusively breastfeeding. I had never pumped before, having breastfed previously and had no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t allowed to see my baby for 3 days, and baby was put on formula against my wishes. The LA refused to transport my breast milk and I was told I could bring it to contact. I kept breastfeeding every contact and expressed 12 times per day, day and night, taking it to contact each time.

It was like a death every time I had to leave my baby after contact, but I didn’t miss a single one offered to me.

It was like I was grieving, whilst my child was still alive, all the time having to keep fighting. This was the very epitome of disenfranchised grief. But I kept going. I began the Therapy that had been recommended during Proceedings, and began counselling too. I read What should you do if Social Services steal your children, by suesspiciousminds and took every single scrap of advice given.

The LA made applications for Care and Placement orders (a Placement order allows the LA to place the child for adoption against their parent’s wishes, this is known as Forced Adoption and we are one of a tiny number of countries in the world that allows this).

My solicitor told me to give up; my child WOULD be adopted, it was hopeless. She told me to stop breastfeeding as it was making me ill. She told me to stop going to contact, to protect myself from the inevitable. When a newborn baby is taken at birth by a LA, the chances of having that baby returned to their parent’s care was 0.25%.

I sacked her, found a solicitor who believed in me and I fought them, I fought all the way with every tiny bit of strength I had. I never backed down, never gave up, every time they battered me down, I got back up and kept going.

The tide began to turn. The Guardian recommended rehabilitation home, my local MP took my case on and a local charity supporting parents through the child protection process – Families In Care – stood shoulder to shoulder with me, supporting me all the way. Eventually the LA were left standing completely alone as everyone fought alongside me for my child to come home.

I turned my life around. In the days I didn’t have contacts, I attended therapy, counselling, domestic abuse courses, stress control courses, a relaxation technique course, confidence building, assertiveness training. I went to every contact offered to me for the children not in my care, I never missed one. I educated myself on the law, religiously read suesspiciousminds and pinktape and began to read Family Law Week and Bailii, scouring each for anything I could use. I also asked for advice on Mumsnet, and found some very experienced people willing to help and offer good advice. In short, I fought and fought and fought.

I won my case for my child who had been taken away by their father, despite LA opposing all the way – advising the Court I should be given one hour a week in a contact centre supervised by them – and despite having no lawyer. I was given shared care; three nights and six days a week.

The Judge in my baby’s case gave the LA chance after chance to back down. They wouldn’t and pursued a plan of adoption. In my view, their behaviour was increasingly hostile, their working practice sloppy, inefficient and narrow-minded. In one Hearing, the Judge told them the way they had treat me was “outrageous”, “unforgivable”, “beggared belief” and made it clear that an Application for an Independent Social Work Assessment would be very sympathetically heard (the reasoning behind this was that the LA were rigid in their thinking and would never give me a chance) . The Judge told me I was not only “good enough” but that I gave a “higher than average standard of parenting care” and that I was a “highly intelligent woman”. I finally felt listened to and respected.

Shortly after that Hearing, the LA finally backed down, accepting a plan of rehabilitation under an Supervision Order (an Order that means parents retain 100% Parental Responsibility but means the LA MUST support, assist and befriend the family).

258 days after my baby was first taken, they were handed back to me in a car park and have not only been home now for over three years without issue but the Supervision Order expired in March 2015 and the case was closed. It could have been very different.

I have completed the Therapy recommended during Proceedings, despite the LA stating they believed the prospect of my engagement looked “bleak”, and made huge progress. I am now more reflective, more mindful, quieter, and calmer. A Psychological Report in late 2015 stated I had “no mental health issues”. The same Psychologist who had originally diagnosed me told me I did not now meet the threshold for any mental health diagnosis.

The LA continued to enforce supervised contact once per week with the two children who remain in long term foster care, despite having 3 children in my care and unsupervised, overnight access to another. The LAs reasoning was that, if I was unsupervised, I “may tell these two children that I want them to come home” which “may destabilise their placement”.
The LA did not think how it may feel for my two children not to hear these words. That they may – as they now do – feel that I fought for their youngest siblings, but not for them.
I duly issued Proceedings as LiP (Litigant in Person) in 2015 to bring their contact more in line with that of which their siblings enjoy. I also successfully applied for an ISW (Independent Social Work) assessment and the updating Psychological Assessment which provided me with evidence to support my application.

This now marked my SIXTH set of Proceedings in under 3 years.

I was granted unsupervised contact, at home, with my two children in long term foster care. It went beautifully well for a time. They both expressed a wish to come home. I issued Proceedings for a Discharge of the Care Order. During those Proceedings, oddly, they both changed their minds. I respected their wishes, and withdrew my application.

One child then chose to come home, whilst the other stayed. You can read more about that here. It lasted four days. We both naively thought the desire to be together would be enough to make it work.

We were fractured again, broken. It was hard. Both my children cut contact. I had to respect that, ensuring and reassuring the both via their social worker that my door was always open for them and I was always here for them. It was difficult not to put barriers up to protect myself; a natural and understandable reaction I think. I blamed and tortured myself.

Unexpectedly, two months later, my child who I had a shared care arrangement with their father, came home to live with me full-time. Their father simply abandoned our child one day. This child has lived with me since September 2016 and will now stay with me until they are ready to leave home.

One of the main people to help support me was my eldest son. One of the main things that helped me was writing my blog. I began training social workers, I began speaking at conferences. Terrifyingly, the media told my story (see Media section!).
I wanted to make a difference. With balls of steel, I came off benefits and became self employed. I wrote for Community Care. I travelled, around one day a week, around our nation to help social workers to reconnect with their service users. My children were proud of me. I found, for the first time in my life, I felt worth something.

I have a lot of reparatory work to do with all of my children, to put right what I previously did wrong. I still carry a lot of guilt, but it is a work in progress. I will never be able to forgive myself for my mistakes, but I can use them as fuel to ensure I am the best parent I can be, here and now.

At the time, I never would have believed I would say this, but I am grateful for what I have been through. It was incredibly traumatic, and I still live that trauma each day, but it changed me for the better. It has made me a better Mum, a better person, and given me a willingness to believe in myself, trust myself, and – for the first time -like myself.

 

Since first writing this piece, I have lost two members of my family to suicide; my eldest son on May the 27th 2017 and my ex-partner (who had previously abandoned our child) on August the 20th 2017. You can read the story of their deaths here.

I have my two youngest children in my full-time care, children who wish to remain in foster care  and one child at University. My eldest son lies in a grave I visit daily. Every single day I apologise for my failings. Every single day I vow to make his short life count for something. I intend, in time, to set up a Foundation for the elder siblings of children in care, a forgotten demographic. They need support and a voice too.

I fight through every day, and I will keep fighting to fulfil my original aim; to bring social worker and service user closer together. There should be no “them and us”.
We are We.

Thank you for reading.

 

Annie

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32 thoughts on “Surviving Safeguarding…or There And Back Again.

  1. You should be very proud of yourself.
    The LA are the ones to feel guilty….for failing you and your children during a difficult time.
    No parent is perfect yet some are forced to become victims of an inappropriate, failing and at times, impossible system.
    Best wishes to you and your family.

    1. Hi Anna, and thank you for your comments. I know of your case, and I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to your first comment. I can only wish you the best and hope that you have good support around you. I think you make very valid points; no parent is perfect and the system is certainly in need of an overhaul. Thank you again for your kind words, and best wishes to you, too.

    1. Thank you very much Simon! I’m grateful for your comments and very interested in the work you do!

  2. your story is incrediable !! so welll done to you ,
    im at them moment in care procedings with my two young children , social services have an intercare order as such ive lost my children to tempary care , im following all advice given and making a remarkable change , but would be very greatfull if theres some advice you can give me .

    all the best

  3. I experienced something very similar 24 years ago, I am in awe of you, I wasn’t as strong but I agree that it’s made me a stronger person and a better parent. Keep going xx

  4. I find your story very inspiring. You are indeed an intelligent and strong woman. I realised that I lead a very charmed life with few insignificant problems and am amazed at your resilience and how you responded to a seemingly lost cause. Your children are lucky to have such a great role model in their lives.

    I believe this process has inadvertently helped you with your mental illness, not an ideal course of treatment but all the same it has empowered you.

    Finally I am glad you benefited from such a fair trial and an insightful judge.

    Keep telling your story, you can change the world!

    1. Hi Vanessa, and thank you so much for taking the time to comment. You’re absolutely right, the process itself was key to my recovery in so many ways. I now need to focus on reparatory work with my children to ensure that they themselves stay mentally well and strong, despite the rocky start I gave them. I hope very much that I am a good role model to them these days as the single biggest driver for me is that I make them proud of their mum. Second to that, of course, is to see the system as is, changed to promote more humane working practice. I also have to agree with you – my Judge was very diligent, very measured…but most of all he listened to me, and he trusted me. Thank you again for such kind comments and I very much appreciate your support!

  5. Hi, I was lucky enough to hear you speak today and found your blog because I wanted to say what an amazing woman you are. I hope that I never forget your words as I progress through my social work career.
    Also, you are a fantastic speaker, I could have listened to you all day!
    Thank you x

    1. Hi there Victoria – what a lovely thing to do, thank you! I’m very grateful for your kind words, I was really nervous today so it’s great to hear that it didn’t show!! I hope you enjoyed the conference; I found it totally inspiring – David Tobis has been a hero of mine for quite some time so it was a real treat to hear him speak! The only disappointment was the “cake” we were served at break time. I feel we were cruelly misled into expecting a big wodge of chocolate sponge. Hahaha. Best of luck with your social work career and do stay in touch. Best wishes x

  6. Just read the article about Huw in the Guardian today (20/02/16), and I’m now in tears. You should be so proud of yourself and please recognise that you are an inspiration and a hope for others.

    1. Paul, thank you so very much. I am so grateful to you for your kind words and heartened to know I could inspire hope. In my darkest moments, hope was all I had. Huw is thriving at home and doing wonderfully, but it has taken its toll. The memory of those dark moments and my love for my children are my own inspiration and I hope I can make them proud. Thanks again 🙂

  7. I found your blog after reading the article in the guardian today. I was moved to tears by your story and overwhelmed by the inner strength and perseverance you have shown. I hope your story gathers momentum as so many do not understand how narrow minded the system can be, not always is, but can. Well done and keep fighting you amazing woman!

  8. Your story is inspirational – I am sure your children will grow up to be so proud of what you have achieved and hopefully the work you are doing will help to change the world for other families going through this. You should write a book!

  9. I too have just read your story in the Guardian. I am a retired Children’s Guardian and I am in awe of how you fought the system as I know how hard that would have been for you. I, as a retired Children’s Guardian, helped save children from being adopted outside of their family and often think about all the children I met and hope I did the right thing by them. You sound an amazing lady and your intelligence shines through. I wish you and all your children a happy future – patenting is for life so you have a whole life time to help them through their past. I feel they will be inspired by you. Sue

  10. I have just read your story. It has been a truly harrowing experience for you and your family. I’m so pleased that you were able to keep fighting to keep your children and good people around you have enabled this. You are a remarkable person and mother, I hope that all of your children will be with you once again. Social services should employ you to help with training of their staff.

  11. I found your blog through my social worker she said It would give me some hope and strength reading this. And hope is defintley what it has gave me what a remarkable person u truely are your story brought me to tears as ive had the same sort of experience it all started from my childhood and then destroyed my future which I never saw coming. at first I use to think I deserved to be abused cause that’s all id ever known as a child every partner I got with just wanted to physicialy and emotionally abuse me it was a constant cycle. I have 4 beautifull children two who are subjected to an SGO and 2 who live with me daily its been one of the harderst things ive ever had to go though in life except I didn’t have your strength I had a numberous of break downs its only now I have professionals helping me fight and stay strong through such a harrowing time as I cant do it alone due to lack of family to Support me you genuinely are a remarkable young lady your story is so inspiring and I’m sure your children will be inspired by you too. Your story have given me soooo much strength and hope…

  12. Not knowing the case or the LA I feel I need to comment with regard to your tenacity and commitment in turning your life round fr your children. I appreciate the difficulties parents face against ‘the system’ but what stands out is how took on board concerns and did something about it (dv course, therapy etc) and sadly many parents do not, or give up, or remain in an undesirable relationship. I sincerely hope all things go well for you; your writings are frank and honest; the research links beneficial to both social workers and parents. You are right, if parents are open and honest, if the discuss their difficulties, I would expect them to be treated with due respect and given the necessary support
    (I write as a team manager with over 25 years in child protection)

  13. Hello, firstly it’s great you finally are in a good place and I wish you all the best moving forward. Secondly how brilliantly unselfish of you to offer this learning to parents and professionals alike.
    It’s incredibly refreshing to hear parents who have faltered to hold their hands up – it’s a tragedy this was not viewed in a strengths based way.
    I am a legal guardian to a relatives child, who has not reflected on her journey in the constructive way you have.
    I believed Social Care saved his and his siblings lives – if not literally then at least metaphorically. All the children have gone on to live incredibly happy and successful lives.
    The role the Social Worker played inspired me and I trained to become a Social Worker. I have since realised the accountability lies at a Social Workers feet but they are not always the ones making the decisions, again another tragedy as the service needs to be here.
    I do hope other Social Workers not only read this but apply some personal values to this with the aim of working ‘with’ families rather than ‘on’ them.
    What you have shared is not only raw but rich and informative and we all are aware of the current social care climate but I hope you inspire others to add more personal layers to assessment – because ultimately there is no better place than home (obviously if it safe).

  14. Firstly, well done!
    Your journey has similar issues to my own. Social work wanted to give residency of my son to my friend, who had taken on the role as Kinship carer, while my aunt took me in to support me through recovery from alcohol addiction. I too was given chances and I blew them. In social works eyes they only cared what happened to my son. My past behaviour was their excuse to give up on me. Thankfully my friend stuck to our promise that if I tried my best and come home sober then she would stand by my son and I. She did, social work tried to get her to sign residency, she nearly gave in, the fact that we made that promise together is what stopped her. After a year of proving I had turned my life around, I took to supporting others in a voluntary role and developed skills to support others and gained so much understanding of my illness and today enjoy a fulfilling life with my son who got home after a year. Through adversity we can give up or let it make us stronger and support others who are going through a tough time. So well done you lady for not giving up. I wish you well and your family for the future.

  15. I admire your strength, I too survived the family courts and after 4 years my child was returned tomy care. I empathise with your story and recognise so many emotions. I don’t know how you found the strength to survive court proceedings three times. I too was advised to go to Ireland, but could not leave my other children. This advice makes me angry everytime I remember the phone call.

    Your strength is amazing well done.

  16. As a resident of North Tyneside your story makes my blood run cold. I am beyond dismayed that a system that should protect and support aims to sever family connections.
    We know there are dreadfully sad cases where parents are unable to adequately care for their children (and so very often those parents have themselves been failed as children) but this was patently not the case in your situation.

    As a parent, and reading your story, I can totally understand why those in need shy away from asking for help. Which is totally counterproductive.

    Big love to your whole family.

  17. I’m a primary school teacher and would like to thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience. Obviously I am technically “on the other team” when it comes to safeguarding, and I’ll be recommending this site to others who have safeguarding responsibilities with LAs. Although safeguarding has saved lives and improved others, just like the rest of the justice system, it’s very vulnerable to mistakes, misinformation and bad practice.

    One thing I’m really impressed by is your own response to this: your recognition of the need for parents and professionals to work together openly and with mutual respect; I’m not sure I could be so magnanimously positive after such an experience. Much respect to you for pulling through such difficult life circumstances so calm, reasonable and balanced.

  18. I was very kindly directed to your blog by lady who assists and supports families regarding similar matters.

    I’m so glad she pointed me in your direction!

    You’re an inspiration. Your story is heartbreaking, moving and a triumph of fighting adversity.

    Thank you for taking the time to share such a raw, candid account of what you and then your family have been through. I’ve no doubt there will be a lot missing which for editorial reasons and legal reasons you’re having to exclude, you’re one amazing woman.

    I’ve just come out of ‘the other end’. Unlike you, I hadn’t been in a DV relationship with the person who attacked me, but I was accused of being in a DV relationship with the man. It got a bit awkward when it turned out I hadn’t even met him and the only time I’d spoken with him was during a phone call, two months prior to my being stabbed, beaten and knocked unconscious, where he’d threatens my life and that of my child. I reported it to the police. They failed to speak with him let alone charge him with anything. Then we’ll have to rewind to April 2015 when I warned both the police and the SS that this man was a high risk level of threat to my child and I. I said that I felt he had a pathological hatred of me. My concerns were dismissed and I was almost ridiculed for blowing something out of proportion as the man apparently had nothing in his past that should cause my level of concern.

    That wasn’t exactly true. During the court proceedings the SS told the courts that I was unfairly putting my child at risk from a man whom I’d been in a DV relationship with whom I’d never met, that risk was so high because the man whom I’d been told posed no threat, happened to have been convicted of attempted murder.

    I too fought back and I too want to help others. Far from DV being flagged to highlight the risk a woman and her family face and to therefore support them accordingly, in my experience I found that the SS actually use DV to discredit the parent and use it as a weapon to have them wipe up the mess their inaction, ambivalence and negligence has created.

    If possible, I would like to send you a couple of emails with a kind of potted history of recent events of my child and I’s life? They’re somewhat lengthy but I have done my utmost to keep to the salient aspects. Would you please let me know whether this is okay?

    Even if I do not hear back, thank you so much for sharing such a blog of hope!

  19. You recently came and gave a talk to our Student Social Work group at a University in Birmingham.

    Your story certainly gave us food for thought and moved many to tears.

    I, on behalf of our group, would like to thank you for your bravery in sharing your story and showing the courage to stand up and speak for the thousands of people who could and do find themselves in your position.

    Becoming a parent is the most precious gift we can be given, but, it does not come with a text book to tell us how to do it. Indeed all of us can and probably do stumble through it doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Reaching out for help, support and advice is not a sign of weakness and bad parenting but more a sign of strength and determination to do all you can to help your children.

    I hope you can continue to do your work and wish you and your family a very bright and happy future.

    Thank you again

  20. Very inspiring. Children’s Social Care’s exceptionalism and the victimisation they impose on families rather than help is disgusting at times. Don’t get me wrong there is some good ones, however, there is some very bad. We are currently at a stage 2 complaint with our LA after telling the IRO we want them in court after being unjustly treated. And hell bent in taking them to court. Would love to hear more about representing yourself! The LA in our case have been caught lying on so many occasions. Even during stage one complaint they played a whopper. Cant wait to see them in court.

    1. We had four complaints upheld and another two partially upheld against a LA children’s dept by two IROs at stage 2. All that got us was the satisfaction of being proved right and an apology. Then…. the next report they were required to do – a section 47 – absolutely tried to rip us apart with its lies – they even tried to get the GP to say we had been indoctrinating the child – and they lied about the child’s performance at school, to the horror of the teacher. Yet a subsquent section 7 painted by a different SW painted an entirely different picture, including noting how highly emotionally resilient the child for such a young age. But got to keep teh child BUT once you make an enemy of the LA CS, it is never EVER OVER, because until all children in the family reach 18, you have to live with the fear of them finding yet more pretexts to come back into your life and try and take your children into care or hand them over to your abusive ex, as happens.

      1. I have to agree that once you challenge a local authority, it can be very difficult to rebuild any form of trust. If you have repeated proceedings and investigations, it becomes almost impossible. You have my full empathy. I am at where you are at.

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