REFLECTIONS FROM FDAC PARENTS
Hear and read what FDAC parents have to say about their experiences, the challenges, the benefits and why they think FDAC is different from ordinary care proceedings.
A mother – Jasmine
When I signed up for FDAC I was a broken person, but I didn’t realise it. I’d had trauma from my teens – mental health problems, domestic abuse, sexual harassment – and I’d become an addict. I’d gone from one violent relationship to another and I was using drugs. I didn’t have my daughter with me.
I was very angry with FDAC, and with social services, with the world, with myself. It was tough love at the start and I hated them all. I came before Judge Crichton. I went in as an addict but I was treated as a human being, especially by the judge, and that was the start of my journey.
It’s the healing, the mental ability to change patterns, that you get from FDAC. My children were fed, and I thought they were OK. But unconditional love isn’t enough. I didn’t know how to heal myself. FDAC opened the door to that, and I got my daughter back. I think FDAC gained something, too, because they learnt about parents with a child with my child’s disability.
My pet hate was the timescales. And the separation of children from their parent, which I didn’t think was right. But FDAC helped me and one day I’d like to be in their office helping other parents going through domestic violence and mental health problems and rape.
FDAC got me where I want to be. I think I am a great person, I love myself, and it’s thanks to FDAC.
A father – Derek
My story is that I ended up in the family court and was offered a plan. I’d just had a son and he’d been taken into care straight away.
It was interesting hearing Jasmine talk about patterns. My son’s mum had had three children removed from her and had been using drugs for about 23 years. She had had previous experience of the family court. I hadn’t, and when I was offered a plan at court I went along with it.
It felt very strange. It was very serious. It wasn’t like the experience I’d had of the criminal court. Very early on a relationship started to build up. I was given the opportunity to speak, and to build relationships – with the judge, and the professionals, and the social workers. I got to know everyone and I found that they were all communicating together. I knew what was happening. I would get a report and would go to court about it every two weeks or so. It felt strange to know about the plan all the time. It was fantastic. There’s nothing worse than doing all that work and not knowing. I could trust and believe in the process and all went to plan from start to end.
I was offered treatment and from there went into detox and then a day programme, doing all the regular stuff. It was absolutely fantastic. It makes me want to cry thinking back to it. I was given the opportunity to speak about myself, and to learn, and to gain trust. And so I went with the plan and the contact arrangements.
The plan that my partner and I had had was to have a child, not to get clean, and we were really wrong about that. With FDAC things happened. I was reunited with my son. The social worker brought him home and I picked him up in my arms and since then my journey has continued. But it could have been so different.
It didn’t end there. I’m back with FDAC. It is so good to come back to the FDAC office and to offer support to other parents, as a volunteer parent mentor. I can see how I was when I entered the process and now I am able to offer a bit of hope to others. I come back to the office that I used to sit outside of, where I’d sit very still in one place and get tested. I come back and see the team but now they aren’t working with me – no, I’m here to help others. I’m really grateful for that. And I feel fortunate to come back today and to share with you my experience of it all.
Mothers Talk Group – Kent
See below (click on drawing to enlarge) lessons learnt from group sessions focused on the relationship between drug use, recovery, healthy child development and parenting. The groups included mothers in FDAC and mothers who had graduated FDAC. Captured by Scriberia.
It was a fantastic experience for all participants – talking and sharing worries is important and can help parents help themselves and recognise that others are experiencing similar anxieties.