Who's Fit to Be a Parent?

By Mukti Jain Campion | Go to book overview

8

Drug addicted mothers

ADDICT LOSES TEENAGE CHILD

A girl aged 15 has been taken into care after she told her teachers that her mother was a heroin addict. The Berkshire teenager was taking part in a discussion at school about drugs when she staggered her friends and teachers by declaring that her mother was addicted.

She has now been removed from her home…. Her parents have not been allowed to see their daughter since she was removed. The mother's doctor said that the woman is a registered drug addict who has a loving relationship with the girl…. During the court hearing the mother was told that her daughter had been taken away on 'moral grounds and for her personal safety'.

(The Times 8/12/86)

This case followed hard on the heels of another addict mother losing her appeal to the Law Lords to have her baby returned. The baby had been born suffering from withdrawal symptoms and had been taken into care by the same local authority as the teenage girl reported above. The spokesperson for the Berkshire Social Services division insisted that there was no policy to require social workers to admit a child into care because of a parent's drug taking. The British Association of Social Workers also stated that 'In general we would advocate support through residential and family centres where mother and child could be offered a total care package'.

Many were none the less concerned that such widely publicised removals would reinforce 'the general view that illegal drug users are likely to be out of control of their lives and unfit to be parents'.

The National Local Council Forum on Drug Misuse and the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse issued a report to deal with these concerns, emphasising that drug addiction should never be a reason for legally removing a child from its mother and that parenthood is often an incentive for the drug abuser to reform.

Many people are scathingly dismissive about drug abusing parents' potential for reform. A consultant obstetrician I recently met described the behaviour of addict mothers as irresponsible and reprehensible. It is not difficult to see why, from his perspective. The job of an obstetrician is to help deliver a healthy baby, to save lives of the little ones born premature or ill through no fault of their

-168-

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Who's Fit to Be a Parent?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Parents on Trial 5
  • 1 - The State Versus Parents 7
  • 2 - Other People's Children 38
  • 3 - Parents Apart 63
  • 4 - Playing God 96
  • 5 - Key Themes from Part I 117
  • Part II - Parents on the Edge 129
  • 6 - Disabled Parents 133
  • 7 - Mentally Handicapped Parents 151
  • 8 - Drug Addicted Mothers 168
  • 9 - Gay Parents 177
  • 10 - Teenage Mothers 189
  • 11 - Older Mothers 197
  • 12 - Single Mothers 205
  • 13 - Lone Fathers 217
  • 14 - Working Mothers 225
  • 15 - Black Parents 239
  • 16 - Key Themes from Part II 261
  • Part III - The Job Description 269
  • 17 - The Ideal Model and the Actual Model of Fit Parenting 271
  • 18 - Implications of the Actual Model of Fit Parenting to Assessment 281
  • 19 - Looking Forward 300
  • Bibliography 303
  • Index 309
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