Becoming a parent is an exciting, joyous time and one for both mother and baby to enjoy. You have nine months to plan for your new arrival and plenty of time to look forward to getting to know your baby.
But imagine if immediately after giving birth your baby was taken away from you and you had to face an uncertain future not knowing when or even if you would be reunited with your child.
Mums with learning difficulties often have to face that harsh reality from the early days of their pregnancy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are excellent support systems out there which allow babies to stay with mums who have learning difficulties.
Prejudice, something I have challenged before, is a major hurdle to personal happiness and development for mothers with learning difficulties and their children. Sometimes people see a condition or problem rather than a person and an opportunity.
My friend is one young mum facing an uncertain future. Her gorgeous little boy was born as a result of a very short relationship. Determined to care for him herself she started working with her support team before he was born, to plan how she would have her baby, make a home for them and bring him up herself.
She knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but then being a parent isn’t easy for anyone. There are lots of books but the truth is, everyone is different and that makes childcare very unique for everyone. But my beautiful friend could never have imagined the difficulties that lay ahead of her and her little one.
Throughout her pregnancy she worked hard to care for herself so that her unborn baby could have the best chance in life. She has her own flat and started looking for a house with the help of her support team and contacted an organisation which supports other mums in the same situation as her.
Drawing on their wealth of experience in helping other mums with learning difficulties and recognising my friend’s potential, as a great parent, they came up with some really practical ideas and solutions so she could care for her baby and build a positive relationship in the first few weeks after he was born.
They put my friend in touch with a housing agency so she could find a more suitable house to bring a family up in and things started to look great for her.
With so many positives in her life, a new baby on the way, a great support network, the chance to make a real family home, she was relishing the prospect of becoming a mum, despite the difficulties every new parent faces.
It wasn’t to be though. Children’s Services became involved and decided that she should not keep her baby. They told her before he was born. That had a devastating impact on her. She became withdrawn and depressed, friends and family started to worry for the health of her and her unborn baby.
She picked herself up, battled through and gave birth to an incredibly healthy little boy, the most gorgeous bundle of joy, supported by a team of great medics and carers.
Together for just a few short hours, she relished the time she had with him before he was taken away and placed into temporary foster care while his future is decided.
For my friend and her young son the future is uncertain. Separated while the courts, social workers and society decide what their joint fate will be is a human tragedy that need not be this way.
In the 21st century it is more than possible to support a young mother with learning difficulties to create a family life for her child. The combined efforts of the individual, support workers, social care experts and medics can create a network that enables them to live with greater independence in the community, growing in strength and love daily.
My lovely friend is getting to see her young baby daily with his foster carers, until his fate is decided, but she is not alone. Many others like her face the same uncertainty, it isn’t just her who has a burden to carry. Society is unnecessarily burdened having to pay foster carers to care for a young child who could receive their own mother’s love freely with the right support and care package.
It will take some time to reach a final verdict for my friend, hopefully not too long for her and her young son. But in the meantime society has to adjust the blinkers and start looking beyond its narrow vision that restricts some of its members from achieving the real potential they are truly capable of.
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