'Social workers took away my twins after I'd joked that birth spoilt my body'
By Vanessa Allen
20th June 2009
'All we want is a family':
But the couple face losing their six-month-old babies, after the mother joked the caesarean had ruined her body
A mother had her twin babies taken from her by social workers after she joked that their caesarean birth had ruined her body.
She and her husband endured five rounds of IVF costing £38,000 to start a family, only to have social services take their children within weeks.
The parents insist social workers acted needlessly, but have been warned their six-month-old boy and girl could be put up for adoption following a secret Family Court hearing last week.
The babies, who were born six weeks prematurely, were taken into care after hospital staff warned that the first-time parents were struggling to care for them.
Nurses reported that the mother appeared to feel ' bitter' towards her children after her joke about the caesarean's effect on her body.
And when the desperate woman lost her temper at social workers who had taken her babies, officials said she had 'anger problems' and could pose a threat to her twins.
The babies were born in December, at the height of nationwide fury that social workers had failed to step in and halt the abuse and tragic death of Baby Peter in Haringey, North London.
The alarm over Peter's death has raised the prospect that some innocent families have been caught up in the backlash.
The couple, from Hornchurch, Essex, can be identified only as Mr and Mrs N to protect the identity of their children.
They are allowed only supervised contact for ten hours a week with their son and daughter, and have been warned that the babies could be handed to strangers for adoption if a judge rules they cannot care for them.
Mrs N, a 36-year-old who has been told she cannot try for more children for medical reasons, said: 'Social services should step in where there's violence or abuse but we would never hurt our children.'
Her 42-year- old husband added: 'No one is born with parenting skills - you have to learn them.'
The couple have been married for five years.
A childhood infection left Mrs N suffering from a rare hormone disorder and unable to conceive naturally, and she suffers from short-term memory loss because of a car accident when she was a teenager, but doctors said there was no reason why she should not undergo IVF treatment.
The babies were delivered on December 30 after Mrs N was admitted to Whipps Cross Hospital in East London with high blood pressure.
They both weighed little more than 3lb and were kept in incubators at the NHS hospital's neonatal unit, where their parents were eventually able to help feed and care for them.
But staff became concerned that they were not giving the twins enough milk or changing them often enough.
On January 29 a senior nurse referred the family to social services.
Mrs N said: 'The hospital could see we were struggling but they made no attempt to help us. They just decided we didn't have the parenting skills to look after the babies.
'They wrote down everything we did and said so they could use it against us. They twist everything. I remember talking to my son while he was in his cot, and saying jokingly, "You want to see what you have done to your Mummy's body".
'It didn't mean I felt bitter towards him or didn't want him - I've never wanted anything as much as I wanted children - I was just joking about the state of my stomach.'
Social workers visited the couple and asked to take the children into foster care. When the parents refused, Havering Borough Council took the case to court and in February was granted an interim care order to give the twins to a foster carer.
Mr and Mrs N were allowed to visit but have found it difficult to see their babies in a stranger's care, and Mrs N admits she has shouted at the foster mother and social workers during angry confrontations over the twins' welfare.
The petite, 5ft 2in woman was accused of throwing her mobile phone at a social worker, and officials once called the police during an angry case conference.
Mrs N said: 'Who wouldn't be emotional, watching another woman with my children? How am I supposed to stay calm? I'm terrified that they are going to take my babies away.
'Of course I get frustrated and I sometimes lose my temper, but never with the children. We don't drink, smoke or take drugs. Neither of us has a criminal record. All we wanted was to have a family.'
A council spokesman said: 'Only in exceptional circumstances would we seek to separate a child of any age from their parents. This decision was undertaken with a great deal of thought and following thorough assessment.'
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