‘I Didn’t Think They Would Take Him Away’

It’s important for mothers who have previously been involved with child protective services to know about their rights and risks while they are pregnant so they can take steps to prevent their child from being taken at birth.

When I was pregnant with my son, I had a feeling I was going to run into some issues when the baby was born. I didn’t think they would take him away, but I knew I would have problems because my daughter was taken from me when she was about 2 and a half months old. I knew child protective services would look into any future child I might have. 

My abusive ex was always threatening me, so when he texted, “Do you know they will take your baby as soon as he is born?” it was another thing I ignored. I thought he was just making more threats to try to scare me.

I was living in a home for single women who are pregnant and/or have small children, so I thought that would be enough to show child protective services that my baby was safe. I could say, “Look, I am in this program and getting help.” Shouldn’t that have been enough for them to give me a chance with my baby?

At a conference after I gave birth, my social worker at the home also offered to vouch for me. She even offered to take full responsibility if anything were to happen and said she would call ACS herself if I were not parenting right. But ACS refused to even consider that.

My son was taken at 2 days old. I will never forget. He weighed exactly 8 pounds. His face was all red. I loved holding him and feeding him.

I didn’t get him back until he was almost 3 years old.

If I had known ahead of time that they would remove my son, I would have done parenting classes and domestic violence classes while I was pregnant. I would have even done anger management and drug classes—classes I didn’t need—so that when ACS confronted me, I could present documents with proof of everything I did. They would have had no reason to take my baby at all. 

If you are pregnant, you can start programs ahead of time, like parenting, domestic violence, or anger management classes. In New York City, you can consult with a lawyer on any questions you may have and to help with the legal defense in case CPS still wants to remove your child after all you have done to prevent that from happening. In other states, if you have an attorney or can get legal counsel while pregnant, tell your attorney that you’re pregnant and have had prior child welfare involvement so you can take steps to protect your baby and yourself.

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