British mother pregnant for most of her adult life had 17 children taken into care over 20yrs

© Michaela Rehle
A mother who has been pregnant for most of her adult life has had 17 children removed from her care by social workers over the past 20 years. It is thought to be the largest intervention of its kind on record.

The woman, who has not been named, was not allowed to keep any of her children, although the reason for social services’ seizing the kids remains unknown.

Now thought to be in her late 40s, the Newcastle mother gave birth multiple times despite knowing the children would almost certainly be taken away from her.

The case was revealed after BBC Newcastle submitted a freedom of information (FoI) request to the city council, asking: “What is the highest number of children one woman has had removed from her care in any circumstance?”

Children’s charity Barnardo’s believes the case represents the highest number in England and Wales and that the woman is likely to have mental health problems.

“I think she is an exception. I don’t think anyone else in Newcastle has reached anywhere near that figure and hopefully in the future there will not be any more because we will have been able to deliver this service,” said Barnardo’s executive director Sian Bufton.

“It is likely she would have had difficulties such as domestic abuse, mental health problems, a chaotic lifestyle, possibly substance misuse.”

Barnardo’s is working alongside charity Pause to launch a new project in Newcastle aimed at reducing the number of children taken into care.

Pause offers programs to women who are prone to repeat pregnancies in a bid to break the cycle.

A Nuffield Foundation study, titled ‘Vulnerable Birth Mothers and Recurrent Care Proceedings’, found that between 2007 and 2014, some 13,248 children were seized by authorities.

Speaking to the Telegraph last year, Pause chief executive Sophie Humphreys said for many women, the new pregnancy is a reaction to the removal of the previous child into care.

“Obviously for each woman it is different but certainly from our work what we are seeing is that there are those feelings of a need to replace something that has been lost, there is a gap literally and metaphorically and the baby represents an opportunity to do things right and to be loved.

“I don’t think it is always as conscious as that but on occasion it is.”