Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Mother's fight

By Freya McClements
BBC News

Louise Mason
Louise Mason's youngest child is still being cared for by foster parents

It's enough to send shivers down the spine of any mother.

You take your sick baby to hospital, only to find yourself the subject of child abuse allegations.

You are arrested and your three children are taken away - but even when a court clears you of all charges, you must still fight to get your children back.

That was the real life nightmare that faced Louise Mason when her four-week-old baby was diagnosed with cancer in 2002.

"That was the diagnosis, but suddenly the questions changed," explained Louise.

"They were asking me, 'Have you hurt her', or if anybody else had hurt her.

"Social services and the police were involved, and I had my children taken away from me for five years.

"One of them, the baby, is still in foster care. She went into foster care at 11 weeks old, and is now six, so it's too stressful for that child to come back to me."

After a two-week trial in 2004, Louise was acquitted of causing grievous bodily harm to her baby, but clearing her name was only the beginning of her battle.

She had to take on social services in the High court in order to prevent them from having her children adopted.

I don't know if I'll ever get that child back
Louise Mason

"I won my case through chance, not through the system.

"A doctor who saw my story in a local newspaper got in touch with me through my solicitor, and got other doctors involved, and it was through them that I was cleared.

"Had he not noticed that story in the paper, my children would have been adopted," she said.

After six years, two of her children are back with her, but the third may never come home.

"I don't know if I'll ever get that child back, but I just have to play along with the system and see when that child's ready to come back.

"It could be years, or it could be never.

"It's very difficult seeing your own child being brought up by somebody else, but she is being well cared-for which eases my mind, and I get access to her twice a week," said Louise.

Staying strong

Louise has now written a book, 'A Mother's Nightmare', about her experience.

"I hope it will help other mothers who are in the same situation.

"Just to speak about what I went though, and the process of writing the book, helped me.

"When you're going through it you don't even think about it, because to survive you have to stay strong.

"It was when I was reading the book back about a month ago to finalise it, that's when it all sunk in.

"It was horrendous, what happened to me."



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