By Ted Jeory
SOCIAL WORKERS STOLE MY BABY BECAUSE I GREW UP IN A FOSTER HOME. I WILL FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
A HEARTBROKEN mother will discover on Tuesday whether the Government is to contest a landmark court case over the baby daughter she had taken from her by social workers.
Sam, 23, is seeking justice for her daughter Angela who was removed from her care and placed for adoption two years ago, at the age of six months.
She succeeded late last year in persuading the European Court of Human Rights to take up her case, and it has given British authorities until Tuesday to respond.
Neither an alcoholic nor a drug abuser, she says she was not given a chance to prove she would be a good mother and that the council involved acted far too hastily in giving Angela to strangers.
She says her major crime in the eyes of social workers was that she was psychologically damaged after, ironically, spending almost all her own childhood with 12 sets of foster parents. However, independent psychologists hired by her legal team have given her a clean bill of mental health.
Although Sam is hoping to prove UK authorities acted unlawfully, she only wants the best outcome for Angela, even if that means her remaining with her adoptive family whom she describes as “fantastic and loving”.
Having been told that all future children she has would also be removed, she wants the right to move on with her life. Her legal advisers hope the European case will prove pivotal in shedding light on the currently secret process of forced adoption.
Sam, who had grown up in foster care after her own mother struggled to lead a normal life, was 20 when she gave birth to Angela in the north of England in late 2008.
Her local social services were notified and they placed both mother and daughter in a family assessment unit where they shared cramped conditions with alcoholics and drug users.
Six months after Angela was born, Sam, who is well educated and now works for the same council that caused her so much heartache, was called to a meeting with social workers.
Scared and worried, she braced herself for the worst, but when the news came it was still devastating. “It killed me and it still does,” she says now.
Social workers told her they were removing Angela and placing her for adoption. “I’d overheard them talking in the unit for some time before the meeting and I knew what was coming my way,” she added.
“I was treated like a criminal in there. I really didn’t feel I was given any help and they wanted me to fail. They said I wasn’t bonding and that she was losing weight. I’d had post-natal depression but I was bonding with her.
“She was and is so special to me. I still have nightmares about the day they took her from me. She was clinging to me, she knew something was wrong, she was upset.
“I had to put her into the social worker’s car and she started screaming. I wasn’t allowed to do anything. They just made crystal-ball predictions without giving me a chance. I wanted another assessment but they refused.”
Like many other mothers who have suffered forced adoption, Sam feels she was not given the same support with child rearing as that given to adoptive parents.
Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who chairs the Justice for Families group, is backing her fight. He believes the lack of transparency in the British family court system is covering up a multitude of poor decisions, particularly those which rely on the reports of council-appointed psychologists.
He said: “I have seen many cases where the evidence provided is clearly wrong.
“When parents are refused a second opinion, a bad report from a single psychologist who wishes to be on the good side of the local council, can result in the adoption of their children.
“When the consequences are so serious we should not tolerate such unreliable evidence.
“There needs to be an inquiry into the reports by psychologists to find if they are always failing parents in order to increase their income. Some psychologists do a really good job but others write what they are told by the local authority.”
Sam and Angela’s names have been changed for legal reasons.