I used to say "I" and "me"
Now it's "us", now it's "we"
Ben, most people would turn you away
I don't listen to a word they say
They don't see you as I do
I wish they would try to
I'm sure they'd think again
If they had a friend like Ben
from Ben by Michael Jackson
The problems is for one little Ben that chance may not be forthcoming. Earlier this week Fife Council put him on at risk-register once they were aware that he had been born last Friday. At four days old Irish Social services came and took the baby away from his mother and father.
His mother 17 year-old Kerry Robertson has mild learning difficulties, but Fife Council consider that she is incapable of raising the baby. The fact is that they found the mother and her 25 year old partner Mark McDougall because having fled Scotland when she was 29 weeks pregnant she kept up all her checks and scans in Ireland. So the fact that the couple were capable of looking after an unborn babies well being led Fife Council to them in Waterford.
John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, actually believes that the removal of baby from his parents under the protection order in Ireland is actually illegal. And says:
"There is no evidence that Mark and Kerry cannot be good parents and I just hope that the Irish authorities can resolve this as quickly as possible."
Now I know there has been some slop handed social services work in protecting real at risk children but the evidence in this case is not proven. As the FTO the South African News Blog points out:
Lets just say things was different and Kerry had no learning difficulties and she died at childbirth, no one would take Ben from his father. Why is this so different? Even if Kerry was unable to care for the child she is not alone, she has a partner who is committed and loving with a supporting family.
Indeed they also report:
When Mark McDougall saw Ben's care order there was a different name on it and date of birth. He believes social services has kidnapped his baby. Who can blame him?
So we come to Fife council whose executive director of social work, Stephen Moore said:
"I can confirm that although the Robertson family are not presently within Fife, we are committed to working closely with professional colleagues elsewhere to ensure safety and welfare of the child and indeed the whole family as this is of paramount concern to us.
Now herein lies a major fault in what they say. Kerry had been doing just that. The two midwifes who had been caring for her and Ben fled the room in tears when the social services took the infant away from his mother and father. David Cameron may want to lock single parents up in the poor house, but here is a father who has stuck by the mother of child, even though the council had also stepped in to stop their marriage. Both parents are being denied the chance to prove they are capable parents because of an arbitrary decision made by some council official.
Had they asked the medical staff for evidence of their ability in the days since Ben's birth? It doesn't appear that they did, or if they did they went against that advice. With a sister-in-law who is a midwife I know how carefully the early days of a child's life are observed by those around the ward. They insure that the child and the parents are going to get the best start. They are the experts, they can spot if there is going to be any difficulties, not some paper pusher who thinks that someone's IQ is below a line in the sand.
Each case should be assessed on its merits. Fife council have not done so in this case, they made a decision long before full term as to the mother's ability irrespective of other situations such as her partner it appears.
Here in GMTV's report into the case back in October. You can even see how much Mark cares for Kerry and the unborn child at the time. Mark Goldring the expert from Mencap says that Fife at that time said they would look at all the facts and circumstances. Judge from yourself if that is the case. I feel that they have not.
UPDATE: Here is a letter from Morgan Gallagher of 'Nursing Matters' to Mr Moore of Fife Social Services and Nicola Sturgeon the Scottish Health Minister.
UPDATE 2: If you have been touched by this story join the Facebook Group to show your support. One comment from Mark MacDougall on there:
"Kerry has already proved Fife very wrong as all the medical staff at hospital nothing but praise for her parenting skills."
Read Also: A similar tale from Essex which makes you wonder just what can spark such decisions even more.