Saturday, November 7, 2009

Couple flee to save their unborn baby from social workers after girl, 17, is told she is not clever enough to look after her child

Couple flee to save their unborn baby from social workers after girl, 17, is told she is not clever enough to look after her child
By Alison Smith Squire
Last updated at 12:03 PM on 07th November 2009

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A heavily pregnant woman and her fiance have gone on the run after social workers threatened to take away their baby at birth.
Kerry Robertson, 17, and Mark McDougall, 25, had been told that she was not bright enough to raise their child and that they would have to give him up.
It was another blow for the couple, whose wedding this year was halted just 48 hours before the ceremony in a row over whether Miss Robertson was intelligent enough to marry.

Miss Robertson, who is 29 weeks pregnant, has since been told the couple will be allowed only a few hours with their baby - a boy they have already named Ben - before he is taken into care and placed with foster parents.
Desperate to keep their family together, the pair fled their home yesterday for a secret safe house.
Last night, Miss Robertson, who has mild learning difficulties, said: 'I have been out of my mind with worry about my unborn baby being taken away.
'Although Ben isn't born yet, I already love my baby and know I will be a good mum. Mark and I talk to him inside me every day and tell him we love him.
'We've already bought him clothes and my cousin, who recently had a baby, has handed down a beautiful crib for him.
'But social workers aren't even giving me a chance to be a mum. It's as if social workers are trying to rule my life and I just couldn't take the pressure from them any more.'

Mr McDougall, an artist, said they had made their decision after seeing minutes of a meeting this week where social workers claimed their baby could suffer 'emotional harm' if left with Miss Robertson - an allegation they say is 'ridiculous'.
He said: 'It was clear to Kerry and I that although social workers recently appeared to backtrack, telling us they would not make any decision about our baby until he is born, the truth is they intend to take him away. Kerry was in pieces.
'She is pregnant with her first baby so we don't see how, before he is even here, social workers can say she won't be a good parent. The pressure that social workers have been putting both of us under is huge.
'When Kerry found out she was pregnant, a care worker mentioned she might not be able to keep the baby but we never believed they would do something as cruel as to take him away.
'We are constantly lying awake at night worrying what the next day will bring.
'Not only am I extremely angry and upset about the way we've been treated, I have become worried for Kerry's and our unborn baby's health. I defy anyone to put up with what we've had to put up with.'
The couple, who left their home in Fife, Scotland, after a leaving party for friends and family, say they do not know how long it will be before they can return.
A family law expert said: 'If Miss Robertson gave birth in Fife and then fled with the baby, after the local authority had got a care order, she would be liable for child abduction.
'But by fleeing while pregnant, Miss Robertson has not broken any law, as far as I'm aware.
'If she has her baby outside the jurisdiction of Fife council, they no longer have any power to take the child into care.
'Rather, they would have to locate her and alert the relevant council who would have to apply for a removal order themselves.'
Miss Robertson has been in the care of her grandmother since she was nine months old after her parents were unable to care for her, with her welfare overseen by social workers at Fife Council.
She and Mr McDougall decided to marry after she became pregnant. But in a highly unusual step, Dunfermline Register Office refused to sanction the marriage after Fife Council wrote a letter of objection.
Under British law, a registrar can refuse to marry a couple if he believes one or both parties lack the mental capacity to understand what marriage is about.
Their case has been referred to the European Human Rights Commission, which is investigating whether Fife has broken human rights laws.
Mr McDougall said: 'Kerry and I always wanted our baby to be born to married parents and we are still hoping to get married.
'We have also offered to go to parenting classes and have a lot of support from family and friends. We feel if Fife really wanted to help us they would allow us to get married.'

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