Small Town Inertia

Documentary & Portraits by J A Mortram

Market Town : Heidi & Ed : The fight for our children

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Danielle and Tyler tattoo made an hour before a Contact meeting.

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Heidi pictured in 2010

“I had a miscarriage at 15 and then I had Danielle at 17 so I was really young. I was with Danielle’s father and there was lots of violence in the relationship, drink, drugs so that was the reason behind me leaving him.”

“Ed said I could leave and live with him if I wanted so I packed our things and we left and we went to Ed’s Mum’s and we were there for a few months.”

“I never stopped Danielle’s father from seeing her, I’d take her to the park so he could have contact and he ended up kidnapping her. He pushed me over, grabbed the buggy and this is where all the dealings with the courts began.”

“Danielle’s father lived in a block of flats. You needed to be buzzed to get in so there was no way I could gain access to get her back. I had to call the Police and I was told there was nothing they could do as he was Danielle’s biological Father. Then I had to get a Solicitor. Social Services became involved and Danielle was placed into Care. Danielle’s father had in the meantime made a lot of false accusations about me. Unfortunately though unproven they were apparently taken seriously by Social Services though I’d done nothing wrong, nothing wrong.”

“Whilst Danielle’s father had taken her there were complaints from his neighbors saying they thought he was mistreating her and that’s why she was taken and placed into Care. I’d been told that once she had been removed from him Danielle would come home to me but she wasn’t she was taken directly into Care for two and a half years. Danielle was just three months old.””

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Heidi (19) with her last photograph of Danielle taken at a Contact meeting.

“After Danielle was taken I began to use drugs. Cannabis. I was in shock as my daughter had been taken. I just couldn’t cope with her being gone. So there was this period of a few months after I’d had my daughter taken that I just got lost. I’d lost her, I’d lost everything, even myself.”

“I don’t really remember much. I was on so much weed, it’s so confusing. I was still in contact with Danielle’s father. I guess I tried to talk him around. I just wanted my daughter back. I don’t remember how I fell pregnant again, I really don’t remember anything. I was with Ed now and we thought with all our hearts that when I fell pregnant again that the baby was ours. It’s scary for me as Danielle’s father could have done anything to me and I just don’t remember it at all.”

“As soon as I found out I was pregnant I stopped smoking weed instantly, just as I had done when I fell pregnant with Danielle. Ed had stopped all of that scene a while before too so when I fell pregnant, we both took it as a couple together as our chance, another chance.”

“We were told by Social Services that Tyler would not be taken into Care. So we carried on as normal. I was going to Contact centres regularly to see my little girl as she was still in Care and not adopted and we were in and out of court all through this period.”

“I had little contact with Social Services during my pregnancy with Tyler. We had a text saying you must give birth at a specific Hospital and you must let Social Services know the instant you go into labour so they could be there. When my contractions came, dead batteries in the phone. We could not contact them, my contractions had started what else could we do?. Like, we were going to stay home or Ed stay home to charge the phone and miss the birth to make that call? There was so much happening all at once. Looking back not making that phone call resulted in so many troubles for us further down the line because Danielle was already in Care, Tyler was automatically involved with Social Services and there was nothing we could do about it.”

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Heidi and Tyler.

“I gave birth to Tyler and two hours after I had a text from Social Services saying they were coming to have a chat. They came into the Hospital, barged into the Hospital, I was exhausted, Ed asked them “Are you going to take Tyler, why? Do you think we would hurt him?” and they said “Yes”.”

“Three days later they returned and took us into a Private Room and said “We are removing your son because your other child is in Care.” and I had this document thrust in front of me granting permission for them to do so but I felt blackmailed as it basically said that if I did not sign then and there that they could take Tyler anyway and I’d lose any chance of seeing him ever again.”

“What else could I have done?. If I had not signed the papers the Police would have been called and I would have been arrested. I had to sign it, I just had to if I ever wanted to see him again.”

“So I just had three days with my son before he was taken too. I just finished breast feeding and they took him, it was just horrible. They even had me fill bottles of milk to be taken away with him. It was horrific, I couldn’t talk, I didn’t talk for ages.  The best thing in the world that can happen to you had just been taken and turned into our worst nightmare. After losing Danielle and losing her in such horrible circumstances we really felt we had another chance and it was taken from us.”

“It was two weeks later that I was able to see Tyler again. I could not see my son for two weeks as they had to get him settled with foster parents. Ed was not allowed to see Tyler at all as there had been at this stage been no DNA test done so he could not be permitted to see Tyler whom biologically I still believed was his son. Ed was there when I gave birth, he’d cut Tyler’s umbilical cord, he’d stood by me as I lost so much blood, he was by my side. It was just devastating for us both.”

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Ed and Heidi.

“*Ed “I always kept in my head that there was a 50/50 chance I might not be the biological father. I wanted to prepare myself just in case, I split myself down the middle, so I was prepared for the worst so whatever came next I could do and be the best. After Tyler was taken we just tried to get on with our lives and we prepared for the fight ahead to get both him and Danielle back. There was so much stress happening, so many arguments still with my ex, we got so little sleep, it was just awful. When the DNA tests were made, the Social Services and my ex requested them, he was getting pressure from friends to do it and we discovered that he was indeed Tyler’s biological father I was really scared to tell Ed. I had a phone call an kept denying it. Ed was asking “Who was on the phone, it was for the DNA?”.”

“Really, all Social Services do is take children away. I’m not going to say they are all bad and I understand a lot of what happened but all through this I had no one to talk to, no one asked me about me and I do feel unfairly judged. I couldn’t talk to anyone, I just shut down, even now I don’t, can’t really talk about it as it’s so emotional. I just felt I was going to lose everything, Danielle, Tyler and Ed too.””

“*Ed “If I’m honest I was more annoyed about being lied to. I just wanted the truth of the situation. That’s the only thing that ever got between us at that time that Heidi was not being up-front about the results, which now, I see is understandable as she was sure I would leave but I was never going to regardless of the results. Also, we were together, through all of this and I was very angry at the injustice of it all, having both children taken, all the things that had been said about Heidi that I know were in no way true as I was there, I knew and saw everything that was happening and we walked all of this road together. I knew if I did not stay and help, help Heidi, try to help get the children back, who would?. Like now here we sit with Tyler in the room, within me back then when both had been taken I knew we could make it to this point, this place.””

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Heidi and Ed changing Tyler’s nappy.

“Ed* I wasn’t angry when I found out I was not Tyler’s biological father. There was just a moment of “OK, this is the reality. People are saying he’s not ‘mine’ but in my head and my heart none of that mattered to me. I’d been there through the pregnancy, through the birth, it was me that had their hand crushed as I held Heidi’s whilst he was being born, I was his father and I was going to be his father. People I knew were saying to ditch Heidi and to walk but it’s just not how I felt. I felt so what, it’s just a bit of paper saying I’m not the father. I can set fire to a bit of paper but never to knowing that for me I’m Tyler’s Dad.”

“They wanted to say I was not his father but I challenge anyone to say that as the man that cut my sons umbilical cord that I’m not his Father. There is definitely more to being a Father than genetics, blood. Anyone can donate sperm but a father in my eyes is a man that stands up and looks after that child. Me, I’ve got nothing really, nothing to my name, I’ve been on Incapacity Benefit & Disability Living Allowance (D.L.A) for years but our child, my son will never go without anything. You can give me millions of bits of paperwork to say he is not my genetic son but that means nothing to me. That means nothing. Tyler’s my son, he’s our son.”

“After, we were living in Sandy Lane, I think Heidi assumed I was going to walk, to leave her but I’d changed Tyler’s first nappy, cut the cord there was no way I was going anywhere.””

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Tyler’s footprints at nine moths old.

“Tyler was in temporary foster care with Danielle and we’d been told that it was illegal to separate siblings, which is what we wanted. We desperately wanted them to stay together and we wanted them both to come home. Our aim was always to get both Tyler and Danielle to come home to us but if not, if we were denied that we so very much wanted them to be adopted together, brother and sister together.”

“At this point I was still able to see both my children together. I’d visit with them in a Contact meeting in a Community Centre and after about two months Ed was then allowed to see Tyler also after the DNA results but he was not allowed to see Danielle, so my visits with her were reduced so Ed could see Tyler too.”

“We had all these amazingly hard decisions to make and all at the mercy of other people. We were thinking of the future, Ed needed to be a familiar face for Tyler, such an incredibly hard choice for us though as it meant less visits with Danielle.”

“*Ed As Heidi says, all (our) hopes were to have both of the children here, home with us or both adopted together and not spit up and fostered out to another family. How we got into this situation where one is with us and one now adopted with some family, some place in the country, we just don’t know. We never ever wanted them to be separated.”

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The family together.

“At Contact meetings you have no privacy. Always someone is there constantly watching you, writing everything you do down. If you cough, it’s written down. They were I think testing us, judging us. I was accused of Emotional Neglect towards Tyler but I’d only been with him for those 3 days after he was born. Just those three days so this whole process was a way for me to be tested, observed so they had cause to take him forever. They wanted to see how we were with our children which we always felt was so wrong. How could I ever have emotionally neglected Tyler?. He breast fed almost instantly and we had bonded of course we had. He’s my, our son and they had taken him within 3 days!. Where and when could I have neglected him?.”

“We were in this system now and had to see it through to have any chance of getting our children home. We are still under a Supervision order which makes us feel really crap but it’s better I guess than being categorized as ‘Emotional Neglect’ or as they like to put it risk of ‘harming’.”

“Emotional Neglect is defined as not tending to needs, changing nappies, feeding him but it also suggests in a way that we don’t love or give kisses, all that stuff and it’s all un-true.”

“I don’t think anyone from the system ever once cared about how we had felt about it, about being labeled as these things, no one ever asked or cared at any point in time.”

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Playing peek a boo.

“What was said to us a lot by Social Services that made things a ‘risk’ was if anything had happened in the past. Though there was no evidence of us ever doing anything, our parents or Grand-parents if THEY had any record of neglect or harm they said it would be passed down.”

“My Mum and Dad divorced at a very young age and I had a very bad upbringing by my Mum, lots of Emotional Neglect from my own Mother to me, the Social Services assumed I would then be that way with my children.”

“So I was being judged by others mistakes and neglect not my own. That’s the worst punishment of all. I lived through it and that was all I ever needed to know to never ever do anything like that to our children but still I was judged.”

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Heidi feeding Tyler.

“We fought and fought for them both and when they decided we had done nothing wrong after 9 months we got the right to keep Tyler but Danielle was fostered out and adopted by another family.”

“Danielle was fostered out just two days before we learned we could have Tyler and their reason was she had been away for too long. They didn’t keep them together. What I really wanted, really wanted then as we were not allowed to have her home with us was for Danielle to stay where she was. She had grown attached to the family she was placed with over the two and a half years  but she was placed elsewhere. Now I, we, can have no contact with her until she is sixteen and only then if she decides to find us.”

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“The hardest thing now will be having to tell Tyler he can’t see his sister until she’s sixteen and maybe never.”

5 Comments

  • Tom McLaughlan

    June 1, 2012 at 7:44 am → Reply

    There’s something wrong with our world when you learn of the pain and heartache that people like Heidi and Ed go through. Thanks for sharing this, Jim.

  • javi

    September 14, 2012 at 9:03 pm → Reply

    I could never imagine the pain she’s been through as a mother, anything i say would sound shallow. But when i hear Ed, talking about paternity, he can’t be more right. He’s the real father, the one standing by in the crucial and meaningful moments. He says it utterly clear when gives the example of an sperm donor. I admire both of them, their fight, yet his commitment to her, his unconditional support are praiseworthy.

  • javi

    September 14, 2012 at 9:11 pm → Reply

    I could never imagine the pain she’s been through as a mother. Anything i said would sound shallow. But Ed can’t be more right. He’s the real father, the one standing by in crucial and decisive moments. He says it utterly clear when gives the example of an sperm donor. I admire both of them, their fight, yet, Ed’s commitment to her and his unconditional support are praisworthy

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Market Town : Heidi & Ed : The fight for our children