Judge Keehan is again at the center of another shocking family court ruling… after imposing a gag order that has lasted for over a month, the truth is finally being revealed about how he has destroyed yet another family. High Court Judge Michael Joseph Keehan (Photoshot)
May 1, 2014: After a secret court hearing, social workers descended on a new mother and stole her newborn baby daughter from her arms just hours after she gave birth. Mother and child were then separated, and allowed only brief supervised visits until the mother was discharged from the hospital on May 2nd. You can only imagine the horror–there was no warning. The may have been cradling her baby daughter in her arms, taking in her warmth as the child nursed or slept peacefully cuddled against her heart. Perhaps the mother counted the child’s small toes, whispered a prayer in her ear.. dreamed of their life together. The horrific scene of the social workers swarming into the hospital room, the cries of the mother–begging for them to stop, begging for help, don’t take my baby…and those who were supposed to protect were working together in this monstrous conspiracy. You can imagine the tears. The pain, wondering about her precious baby. All the clothes and toys she had bought, the crib remains empty.. The name she picked out for her daughter will not be on the birth certificate; due to the child’s legal status she cannot be named.
The mother’s “crime”? The Court felt she was so “mentally ill” that she cannot possibly raise her own child. The mother’s symptoms cannot be managed or treated. The mother doesn’t deserve an opportunity to parent or try to seek help. And maternal relatives also are not qualified to care for the infant. Judge Keehan’s secret court decided ALL of this without allowing the Mother to get legal help, without allowing an evidenciary hearing where medical experts could be called, and with absolutely secrecy due to the gag order the Court imposed. High Court Judge Michael Joseph Keehan admitted the ruling was “highly exceptional”.
Judge Keehan ruled that North Somerset Council wasn’t required to inform the 24 year old heavily pregnant mom that it would move to take away her baby at birth because they felt because she is schizophrenic, and has an IQ of 63, there was a risk the mom could hurt herself or her baby if she knew of the state’s plans. According to Judge Keehan, “The order sought in this case by the local authority is at the extremity of what is permissible under the European Convention (on Human Rights). It is only in an extreme case that such a draconian and highly exceptional course of conduct will be permitted. I am satisfied that if the mother were to learn of the plan to remove her child at birth there is a very real risk she would harm herself and a very, very real risk that she would cause physical harm to her baby.” Translation: This mom has a disability so the Court felt it could do whatever it wanted and she could not defend herself, nor would she have support to challenge their ruling. In fact, if this mom were to get upset or emotional, her reaction may just reinforce their false accusations that she is unfit!
It is unclear what the status of the baby’s father is, but clearly he has rights to his child.
And Judge Keehan issued a gag order on the court proceedings, so that no one could publicly speak about the case or publicly report on the case until AFTER the baby was taken into custody. Which means the first reports were coming out in June 2014.
The unnamed baby is now in foster care. The mom was so distraught about being separated from her daughter that she has required crisis intervention… can you blame her?!?! One imagine I think of when hearing this case… is what it would be like to nurse your baby only a few hours. To have just a few moments of that precious and necessary skin to skin contact, the bonding, the nutritional value of mother’s milk. Imagine what it would feel like to have your milk come in but no baby to feed. Your whole body would cry out for that baby–not only emotionally but physically, the body’s every instinct is to nurture and protect that newborn. And there is no baby. Just an empty crib. The pain in her heart. The pain of not being able to nurse. Pumping milk for a baby who would never drink. The pain of having a stranger care for your baby, a stranger to feed and diaper, a stranger to answer her cries.. when it should be you. And you have not been given a chance to speak or defend yourself. And you don’t know if you will ever see your baby again…
The Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services has public objected to the ruling, its President Jean Robinson says, “The secret hearing does not give the mother any opportunity to instruct solicitors to prevent it, or even approach solicitors or even her own family member to create an alternative. There may well have been no alternative, but the problem is that was never explored. The fact that the mother only found out the moment she had given birth, it’s terrible.”
NOTE: I have experience working with single mothers in crisis situations and working with people who are mentally ill and disabled. I can honestly say that with proper treatment, and proper support, it is possible to raise a child while dealing with a disability. Sometimes a relative or foster family is called in to offer support, or to provide a home. There are alternatives to try before custody should be taken.
The Court should protect and try to maintain the relationship a child has with it’s birth parents, and explore every option to keep this family intact. Judge Keehan and the Secret Courts will continue to hurt families, and make rulings that destroy families unless we raise a public outcry against this abuse of power. Judges, social workers, and other court officials need to be held accountable when their rulings and actions violate the law or hurt families/children. Our silence protects them, our voices draw attention to the problems and demand change.
For More Info: “Baby girl taken from her mother by a secret court: Family knew nothing of judge’s decision to back social workers” by Sam Marsden, Mail Online, 6/6/2014: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2650787/Social-workers-snatched-mothers-baby-minutes-birth-no-warning-secret-court-ruling.html#ixzz37zn7sRnK
“The Cinderella Law: Government Regulation of Parental Love”, blogged by Family Court Injustice, 06/30/2014. Includes another case from Judge Keehan, who decided a father’s love “is not enough”. Judge Keehan not only took this man’s daughter from him, but ordered the child is to be adopted by maternal relatives and sent to live in America: http://familycourtinjustice.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/cinderella-law/