Do you think these children are abused and neglected?
My local Social Services think so.
They are not, they are loved with all my heart.
I'm writing this letter as a heartbroken mother. When you hear stories of children being stolen, ripped from the arms of their mothers, or kidnapped, you immediately think of child abusers, kidnappers and pedophiles. But my children were stolen from me - and they were stolen by Social Services. This this is my story.
My name is Luci Vieira da Costa. I’m 41 and I was born in Mogi das Cruzes, São Paulo, Brazil. I am a Brazilian Portuguese national and have lived in the UK since 2000.
My gurudev is Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj. I was initiated in 1994.
My story begins on 13th November 2013, when North Tyneside Social Services removed my two daughters from me. A Social worker called Alison Dodds came to my house and told my 12-year-old daughter and I that because I would be homeless, I should give my daughters to the care of Social Services for a brief period, so that they would remain safe whilst I found suitable accommodation for the three of us, I was repeatedly told that as soon I found somewhere to live, the children would be returned to me. The social worker told me to sign a document which I had never heard of before, but I had faith in the social workers, and I trusted them. After all, who wouldn’t? The document is called a section 20, and it allowed me to leave my children in their care. This document states that the Local Authority can able to help me with accommodation for the children, and offers support, but NOWHERE does it mention the words Fostering or Adoption. At the time, I was quite reticent about signing this document. I wanted my children to stay with me, but Dodds told me that if I did not accept her help and sign the paper, she would call the police and would have my children taken from me by force. I was so frightened and unsure of what to do, and I didn't want to put my children through the pain and drama of having the police involved, so I reluctantly signed the paper, still believing that my children would be returned to me in a matter of weeks. So I set about house hunting, and then two weeks later I found a flat - problem solved, you may think, but this is where things started to take a much more sinister turn.
Social Services never returned my daughters, and never even came to view my new house. Instead of my beautiful daughters, court papers arrived on my doorstep, and an Interim Care Order giving the Social Services temporary care was granted on 31/01/14. I am convinced that the Social Services withdrew my children from my care without any justification or logical reason. If someone stole my car, the thief would be punished, but when it comes to my daughters, Social Services seem to have the power to do anything, while remaining above the law. Not only that, but they have also alienated my children from me. I have never mistreated, never neglected or abused my daughters. Social Services refuse to return them to me. In fact, they are already planning to give my baby up for adoption, event tough I am a loving mother and am willing to do anything to get my children home and my family back. When they took my youngest daughter, my baby, Kalandi, she was still breastfeeding, so we had a very special bond and were very close, It must have been heart breaking and stressful for her, in the first month, to be suddenly separated from me like that. Every day I would see her and my poor little baby would cry when she saw me. The separation was so difficult for us both, we would end up crying during the entire visit. And she cried even more when we had to separate again.
Of course, seeing my baby crying destroyed me emotionally, physically and mentally, what human wouldn't be? This separation has caused me deep anguish, and I lost 50 kg in the first month following the separation. I couldn't eat or sleep, and I practically lost the will to live without my children. I had nothing left, they are my whole world. However, during this period, Social Services said it was me who was causing my baby to cry, and that I was the cause of her distress. But no one seemed to have the good sense to analyses these lies, deception, and false pretence that they were fabricating against me. Thankfully the next month, my baby was no long crying, but was also no longer the smiling, bubbly, fun-loving baby she had once been; she was now just a shell of her beautiful former self; the parental bond had been broken by the system. Of course, by this time, I was no longer producing breast milk. I couldn't bear to see my baby so unhappy, and well I believe being abused and alienated and for her to feel no emotion and to make matters worse, I was no longer able to allow myself to vent or even cry in front of others, from fear of being labelled “crazy”. In fact, social services insisted I be submitted to a psychological examination, but the psychologist said I had NO mental health issues. Despite the conclusive findings of the psychologist, the social workers still continued to insist that I was mentally unstable. As a result, I was only allowed to see my baby twice a week, for one hour at a time, in a tiny room, supervised by two social workers. How is a mother supposed to maintain a bond with her baby when she can only see her for two hours a week!!
For the first month, I was not allowed to see my oldest daughter Krishna, aged 12, and then when I was finally allowed to see her, it was only for one hour, once a week. My daughter loves me very much, as I do her, and despite the fact that we only have four hours a month, we still share a strong bond, and I’m still able to connect emotionally with her, help her with her homework, and hear about how she was getting on with her piano playing, having had classes for many years. I have always firmly believed in the principle of authority, but I also believe when someone has a problem and needs help, the family should be kept together if at all possible. However, the Social Services, and the rod of the North Tyneside and County Family Court, meant that my family was torn apart. Every time I visited Kalindi, I was supervised by a female who harassed and intimidated me, distorting my words in reports to her superior.
When I read the "parent report" written by North Tyneside Social Services. I can safely say that I had never read anything so reprehensible in my life. It seemed as though I were reading something that was written by a prison guard watching over a prisoner.
The attitude of that female supervisor was abusive and wrong; she was effectively bullying me, and that is highly unprofessional. Basically, the North Tyneside Social Services is determined to destroy all connections between me and my daughters, despite the fact my 12-year-old daughter has clearly stated that she wants to stay with me. Unfortunately, I have no doubt the Social Service will testify in court that my daughter no longer wants to be with me – that is precisely what they did at the last hearing, in January 2014. However, their "parent report" clearly states the opposite.
Continuous manipulation and the illusory nature of this case can be seen clearly by those who have eyes to see. The Child Protection court is obviously nothing more than a cover for what could only be described as a witch hunt, and even false imprisonment of a child by the state. The Family Court, for me, has been nothing more than a system designed to separate me from my daughters, even though, as mentioned earlier, there was no justifiable reason to do so. This was done methodically and maliciously. However, I hope the truth will be come out and that I will finally be able to have my family back home with me where they belong, and my life back. In the first hearing, on January 2014, I delivered a letter to the judge that was read aloud in court by my attorney. It focused on section 31 of the 1989 Children's Act. As I have never abused or neglected my daughters, the threshold for their removal was not met, i.e. there was no reason to remove my children from me. Later, the lawyer of the children, who had been named by the Guardian, said I missed an interview, and that this constituted a failure to meet the threshold. But I ask myself, since when does missing an interview count as neglect or abuse of a child? Also, I never missed any of the scheduled visits.
I will do anything for my children and will never stop fighting for them.
The lawyer representing Social Services also lied and said I did not love Krishna, my eldest daughter. How can anyone state that I don’t love my daughter? My daughters are my sole reason for being. The lawyer also stated that Krishna does not love me, and does not want to come home. Based on this fraudulent and corrupt evidence, the judge granted an ICO (Interim Care order) to Social Services, based on the fact that he was not sure whether my daughter loves me, and a new hearing was scheduled for the end of May 2014.
My first social worker, Joan Dean, wrote many reports about me and my daughters, and my house. In all these reports, she states that I’m a good mother, that my house is clean, and that my children are well cared for. The Health visitors, Joanne Pearson and Debbie Smith, reported that Kalindi was very happy and was doing very well under my care. Why this was not taken into consideration? These documents, relating to approximately the first three months of involvement of Social Service, were not even considered in the court hearings! Only Reports produced AFTER my daughters were removed were presented to the court - reports full of lies by Alison Dodds and other social workers. In fact, I found over eighty lies in these latter reports. For instance, one day a social worker, Joanne Pearson, saw me sitting outside a launderette reading a magazine, while the baby slept in the pushchair. Alison stated three times, in different reports, that I was sitting outside the launderette and my baby was crawling on a dangerous road! She also implicitly stated that black and ethnic minorities are weaker mentally and physically, and that my religion (Hinduism) is not accepted in the UK.
From 03/27/14 to 06/24/14, Social Services would not let me see my daughters. In June, Social Services, asked the judge to impose a section 34, which means I would never see my children again, and requested an Injunction Order, to prevent me from publishing my case, or photos of my daughters, on the media or online. All parents are given this command to 'shut up', i.e. a gagging order, so that my friends who are going through similar circumstances are afraid to write publicly about their cases. Parents can be given two months or more in prison if they tell the TV or newspapers that the UK Social Services stole their children.
The Social Services wanted me to have this gagging order because I had published articles about my case on the internet.
However, I had just met my friend James Mee, who has helped me to express things in English, in writing, better than I could have, and has helped me pen letters to the judge. On this hearing for s34 and gagging order, I presented a letter to the judge, explaining my situation and giving evidence of my innocence. I think this judge must have paid some heed to that letter, because he did not impose a section 34 or a gagging order!! He also dropped my case, forwarding to a higher judge - Judge Hudson.
I wrote six letters of complaint. I sent them to the judge, for Social Services and the Police.
On 08/22/14, we went to the Final Hearing. My lawyer, with my instruction and help from James, defeated all five witnesses from Social Services, and the children’s guardian. But the judge was corrupt – even with so much evidence in my favour, she failed to return my children! She ordered that Krishna remain in foster care until the age of 18, and in January 2015, there will be a hearing to decide whether my 2-year old daughter will be given up for adoption!
Please help me fight this injustice and bring my children back. I miss them terribly and they miss me so much too. The judge talked to my daughter, not in court at the hearing as I had requested, but privately, before the hearing. She asked her what she most wanted in her life. Krishna replied that she wanted to come home, to her mum. The judged then asked her, if this possibility didn't exist, what was the second best thing she wish for her life. My daughter replied that she didn't have a second option, she only wanted to return to her mum. In her judgment, the judge said that I made my daughter speak the way she did.
I am in arrears with my rent. I sold my child's piano, clothes, shoes, DVDs, PS3, karaoke, etc.
I applied for Appeal, but the Legal Aid refused my application, which means I would have to pay a barrister myself, at a cost of about £10,000. I am also applying for Judicial Review, what again, would cost me about £10,000.
I also want to file for a Private Prosecution, what will cost me about £10,000 to obtain the transcript for the 18 hearings, plus £10,000 for a barrister.
The Brazilian TV channel Record and 2 Brazilian newspapers have reported my case.
Please can anyone out there help me to get my daughters back.
I cannot live without them. They are my life. I am a desperate mother who needs help. My children have been stolen from me. My heart ripped out. Three lives destroyed. All I am left with is a broken home and the hope that someone will see the truth and help me fight for my children. If there is anyone reading this who is in a position to help, my daughters and I would be most grateful.
This is the website I have designed to publicize my case and request financial assistance: www.ukfamilycourt.com