Using Disability in 'Welfare of the Child' Consideratons Meant I Didn't Go to the Doctor

Using disability as a consideration in 'welfare of the child' deliberations is not only discrimination and intolerence, it also puts disabled parents at risk of harm and could impact negatively on their children.

During my court hearings after divorce (which spanned YEARS), my disability was repeatedly used as reasons why I should not be a mother to my children. Examples include:

  1. The fact that my ex could carry babies in arms whereas I could only carry them in a pram

  2. The fact that I was not able to go on camping holidays with them (I can only use hotels) and their dad could

  3. The fact that I had depression after the breakup of my marriage (reactional to the circumstances, not clinical, and made worse by social service bullying) and he didn't have depression.

  4. They also made false allegations about how I couldn't clean my children because of my disability - which was untrue.

  5. They falsely stated that my ex was my carer when married and now that I wasn't married, the children were my carers (ignoring his 40 hour a week job while I was at home alone, looking after three children under the age of four years).

They repeatedly harrassed me for my medical record in court and told me if I didn't consent it would not only go badly for me and they could get my records anyway without my consent.

When I finally did let them see my medical record, they used all references to disability and depression as reasons to be worried about the safety of my children. I had been the main carer for my children since they were born, had looked after them independently and never required a personal assistant at that point. I walked them to nursery, fed them their meals, breastfed, washed cloth nappies, bathed them and sat outside in the pouring rain whilst waiting to collect them from their disabled inaccessible school. I read to them, played with them and loved them. They had home baked cakes I made for their birthdays. I could go on and this kind of behaviour purely because I was disabled and upset after the man I loved left me, was deplorable.

My older children were sent to live with their father without my consent because of these reasons, because, as CAFCASS put it, 'We always put the children with the more capable parent and he is the more physically capable and hasn't had depression'

I pointed out that this was disability discrimination and was told

"We're allowed to do that for the welfare of the child."

This entirely disgusting statement was an acknowledgement that they are allowed to discriminate as there was no law to protect me as a disabled parent.

The welfare argument did not stand up to scrutiny either because they left my younger children with me on account of the children's very young age. If I had truly been a risk to my children and couldn't care for them due to disability or depression, they would not have left the youngest children with me.

After that experience I vowed not to go to the doctor for my own needs and not to use any counselling service which can be accessed by the court in breach of confidentiality rights. For a period of seven years I didn't visit a doctor once.

During that time my physical health deteriorated. I developed joint pain and stiffness and chronic back pain, high blood pressure and a migraine disorder. I battled on by myself for years with no pain relief, to the point where it was difficult to sleep at night and becoming difficult to walk. On a trip to the pediatrician with my child, he noticed how much I was limping and that I was in pain and insisted he X-ray me right there in the children's department.

He found I had osteoarthritis and my hip socket had worn away and the hip was fractured. I had been walking around on a fractured hip for around 18 months by that stage and all I took for it was ibuprofen. This was because I was too scared to go to doctor in case social services and CAFCASS used my medical records against me again. Not treating my condition made it worse and meant I had a higher degree of disability, which was a disadvantage to my children. After that, I became very disabled and had to have major surgery and CAFCASS did the same again, they used my medical record in a court hearing to try and remove my child, saying that:

  1. As I was now temporarily in a wheelchair, my older child must have 'too many responsibilities' for me (this was despite me hiring two teams to look after us - records they didn't look at).

  2. They also accused me of abusing morphine which I was taking for the terrible pain of a broken hip. The morphine was the only reason I could still be a mother at that point. I ended up having to get a letter from my GP saying he prescribed the morphine and I was taking it by his direction.

  3. My daughter put plates on the table after I cooked and this was viewed as 'caring' - how many times do YOU ask your 10 year old to set the table?

After my medical record had been picked apart to once again prove what an unfit mother I was, the older of my two children that I had left was moved to live with her dad, only 9 weeks after my major surgery. The judge never looked at the personal assistant's and care agency records to show that I had had round the clock care from two teams and an assistant as CAFCASS didn't mention them in the report because 'they had to get the report in quickly'.

I recovered fully from my surgery, I am no longer in a wheelchair (not that it would matter if I was) and I dismissed the care teams 12 weeks after I came out of hospital as I didn't need them anymore, but I didn't have my daughter and three years later still don't.

In future, if they try to take my one remaining child, I will REFUSE to show my medical record and if they use it anyway without my consent, I will try to sue the court for disability discrimination. Remember, inshrined in UK law, originating from common law is the right of an individual against self-incrimination and if disability is considered as a child protection issue then having to give up your medical record containing details of disability is incriminating yourself. Therefore, you should be legally protected from such self-incrimination and should not be forced to divulge your medical records to any court since their purpose is to use your disability to declare you an unfit parent. Over-riding your rights should be illegal and is an abuse of power.

While I went without medical care for seven years and still lost my daughter the first time I needed surgery, at least I am still alive. For one mother with asperger's syndrome, this isn't the case.

She asked for help with her two boys because they also have asperger's syndrome and social services started a hate campaign against her and tried to take her sons because she has a disability. After her horrible experience of nearly losing her children through disability discrimination, she also refused to go to the doctor for any reason, even when she developed pain. Her pain turned out to be cancer and she didn't because she was too afraid of social services to seek medical care.

Her boys have now had to grow up without their mother. How exactly is that in 'the best interest's of the child?'

Her death is one of the reasons why the Equality Act 2010 must be amended to make disabled parent discrimination a crime, as there are thousands of disabled parents who aren't going to the doctor or getting any assistance for this very reason.

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