It’s been a bad week for Mina and Mohammed. And it’s getting worse.
The experience of court was brief but everyone is very emotional at the (non) hearing. Mohammed is very upset and his body language is exaggerated. Two of the children have attended court and Mohammed is holding his youngest and sobbing.
After the hearing, in which a non molestation order is granted against Mohammed, Mina is told that she will have to choose between moving into a refuge or placing her children in care if she refuses to leave the family home. Mohammed is still living in a hostel. The social worker has not explained to Mina what an interim care order is or the different ways in which it works, either at all, or properly. Mina is terribly anxious about this.
Mina goes to the assessment she is asked to attend with the social worker. Whilst at the assessment the social worker tells the medical professional that Mohammed shook the youngest child whilst at court and that is why they are here with the youngest, who is scheduled to have a check up in this meeting to make sure there are no injuries as a result of the shaking. Mina is shocked by this news. This is the first she has heard of this. Mina believes that the social worker has mistaken Mohammed’s sobbing movements for shaking. She feels she must say something. Mina contradicts the social worker and says Mohammed did not shake the baby at the court-house.
Mina’s solicitor is constantly playing catch up, as the local authority fail to tell the solicitor of appointments being made and continue to relay information to Mina, instead of talking to her solicitor. Exasperated, Mina’s lawyer writes several emails to the local authority’s lawyers asking them to communicate directly with him and not Mina, as required by the process. Mina’s lawyer discovers that the local authority organised the assessment after the alleged incident in the court room and so they have argued that there was no time to notify Mina. Mina’s lawyer is not convinced by this excuse and asks them to ensure that they make sure he is notified of all meetings and information relating to Mina.
Mina’s solicitor also discovers some other disturbing facts. The local authority has been telephoning Mina’s children’s schools and their GP to get information without telling Mina first or asking her if they may do this. The local authority argues they are within their rights to gather this information for Child Protection processes. Mina’s lawyer reminds the local authority of the balance that must be made between Mina’s parental responsibility and the rights arising from those and the carrying out of the local authority’s duties.
The social worker tells Mina that the support worker will at some point not be able to spend time around the clock with her and that a foster carer will be substituted in during those times. Mina is confused as to why a foster carer is going to stay in her home, or whether the foster carer will be taking her children elsewhere. No one has explained to her why the support worker is no longer able to stay around the clock or what a foster carer is, or why she is being introduced into the scenario, absent an order from the court.
Now house bound, unable to go anywhere without permission or accompaniment, Mina feels as if her world has shrunk and she is a prisoner in her own home. A home which is being constantly penetrated by strange, unfriendly faces who seem more intent on forcefully imposing a conclusion on her, rather than gently conducting a respectful investigation.
It is almost as if the local authority are so focused on meeting the new targets for the adoption timetable that the process is being ignored completely, and the welfare of the three young children, who are supposed to be the focus of their work.