Lucy Stevens - 17th February 2023
When I was 17, I thought I knew it all. I’d had a rough childhood and when I was a teenager I got in with a gang. I did drugs and did some drug running up and down the country. There was something comforting in that life, being on the edge, always a step away from violence. It was what I knew but it was also something I belonged to, something I didn’t have with my own family. Their rejection still hurt, and I would take the drugs to cope and to just numb everything. My boyfriend was also a gang member and had a list of offences as long as your arm. We were both pretty well-known to the police to be fair.
So, at 17 when I got pregnant, I didn’t really see it as a big deal. We were earning some money and life just sort of went on. But my boyfriend got more violent, and the police were called a few times. There was only one way I knew how to deal with all this and that was to take more drugs. Social services got involved. They believed my unborn baby was at risk. I knew that they had in their mind to take the baby away when it was born.
The thing is, when I get overwhelmed, I just cut myself off. So, I stopped co-operating with the social worker and carried right on with the drugs. My boyfriend and I would fight, really bad. I got done for assault as well as him. Something needed to change.
My social worker told me that she wanted me to have an opportunity to be a mum to my baby. She said I needed some help to learn how to parent well and to be able to put the baby’s needs first, keep it safe and loved. She suggested a mother and baby foster placement. I was so tired of everything, and it all felt too much for me, so I agreed.
The baby was born. Baby T. Luckily, he showed no signs of withdrawal from drugs and was a good weight. I loved him immediately. Looking back at the social worker and midwife’s comments at the time, they show that we had a good bond and that I had some real potential there.
I moved in with my foster carer. She helped me to get into a routine, to pick up on T’s signals, she woke me in the night so I could feed T. She showed me how to budget and how to plan meals for the week. She taught me about the importance of play and to talk and sing to the baby. There was just so much to learn. I loved it, I really did. But it was also really hard. I knew that my foster carer had to write reports on me and although she was really open about this and we’d talk about how I was doing, I still felt that pressure. And I knew I wasn’t ready for it. However much I loved T. I was too young and still in too much pain. I knew T deserved more than I could give him.
I told my foster carer how I was feeling. She was really good. She made sure I had lots of support, and I even got some counselling. I think we all agreed that I would struggle to care for T if I was on my own. I’d broken away from all the bad influences but I was still really fragile and I recognised the feeling of being overwhelmed.
My foster carer worked closely with my social worker and it was agreed that an assessment would be done on my Aunt to see if she could care for T. I would then be able to have regular contact and keep that bond we had. The assessment was positive, and T moved in with my aunt who I’d always been close to. I saw T regularly and he was always so pleased to see me. I left my foster carer and went into supported lodgings. I went back to college to study plumbing which I loved. I wanted to make T proud of me.
After hard graft and determination, I got a job and a council flat, and I am now trying to get T back. I may not get it all right all the time but I do love him, and I’m stable. Whilst I didn’t get to keep my son first time around, I did learn a lot from my foster carer and later from my aunt. I made decisions that were for T’s good and he’s had a really happy childhood. I’m determined to see that continue.
If you think you could offer a young mum or dad the chance to parent their child safely, you can provide parent and child fostering. To find out more, please get in touch with us at email@example.com, call us on 01206 299775 or get in touch via Facebook.