I am 31 and married. Two of my three gorgeous children live with
me. I run a group for parents with learning difficulties with my
local People First. I would never wish my childhood on anyone. I
got a lot of abuse and no one listened to me. But my childhood made
me a stronger parent.
I first became pregnant in my early 20s. I was expecting triplets,
but lost them when my ex-partner assaulted me. Later, I got
together with my now husband and soon we were expecting twins.
Sadly, I miscarried again. The third time I was pregnant we were
lucky and I gave birth to Melanie. We were thrilled to have her but
social services weren’t. Because of my abusive childhood Melanie
was put on the child protection register before she was born. I was
seen as an unfit parent before I even a chance.
My social worker at the time said he would send Melanie and me to a
mother and baby care unit. He said it would be in a big city and
they would support me to learn to be a parent. In fact, the unit
was on a family farm and we were the only mother and baby there. I
had been abused on a farm and was petrified of the flashbacks I was
having. My social worker laughed, saying it was a test of my
parenting. Eventually, he made us go and live at my mother’s,
knowing she was one of my childhood abusers. He put Melanie under a
regulation 11 order with my mum. She didn’t want the
responsibility. I was scared she might abuse Melanie. The social
worker wouldn’t let any other family member help and Melanie ended
up in foster care. She was adopted when she was two and a half. We
never saw her again.
While all this was happening, I had two further miscarriages. I
felt empty and lost – so many parts of me had been taken away. I
fell pregnant again. We were determined to keep this child and
decided to work with social services. I had Becky, who was put on
the child protection register before she was born. This time we
were sent to a real mother and baby care unit. They were very
My husband joined us and after a few months we passed and went home
a happy family. Becky was taken off the register. We were expecting
twins again. We lost one at birth but got a bouncing baby boy,
Brian. He went into the special care unit because I became diabetic
during my pregnancy and the labour was hard. He has learning
difficulties. Brian wasn’t placed on any register. We know he will
need more support growing up and because we have learning
difficulties we know what he might experience.
Being a parent has changed my life. For all the children I have
lost, I have two wonderful children I love and treasure. I am a
great parent and will do my best to keep them safe. I am proof that
people with learning difficulties can make good parents and that an
abusive childhood can be overcome with the right help and by
standing up for your rights. Don’t assume it’s a cycle that can’t
Rebecca Fletcher has a learning difficulty.