Innocent is the true story of little Molly and Kit, siblings, aged 3 years and 18 months, who are brought into care as an emergency after suffering non-accidental injuries.
Aneta and Filip, the children’s parents, are distraught when their children are taken into care. Aneta maintains she is innocent of harming them, while Filip appears bewildered and out of his depth. It’s true the family has never come to the attention of the social services before and little Kit and Molly appear to have been well looked after, but Kit has a broken arm and bruises on his face. Could it be they were a result of a genuine accident as Anita is claiming?
Aneta says the children are accident prone and suffer allergic reactions; that’s why she has taken them to the doctor and hospital sixty times in the last two years. When both children start being sick at Cathy’s for no obvious reason she believes what Aneta is saying, and begins a food diary to try to identity what is causing them to be ill. No obvious allergen show. It is very worrying, and upsetting to see the children ill so often. Cathy asks for more hospital tests although the children have already been subjected to a lot.
Looking after two little children who are ill so often is hard work but Cathy’s adult children help and they all quickly bond. The care plan is that the children will remain in foster care long term. When Cathy’s daughter, Lucy, drinks some of Molly and Kit’s juice that has been sent home from contact she is violently sick, and Cathy is convinced she has identified what is causing Molly and Kit to be ill. The parents are storing food and drink incorrectly and it has ‘gone off’. But when the juice is tested a far more sinister reason comes to light. It contains linctus that induces vomiting – it is that that has been making the children so sick.
Cathy is shocked, even more so when Aneta accuses her of poisoning her children and demands they are removed from her care. Cathy protects her innocence but the social services find another foster carer pending an investigation into the allegations against Cathy. On the day Molly and Kit are due to leave Filip goes into the social services’ office with a bottle of linctus he has found in their medicine cabinet. Aneta has been making the children ill; she is suffering from Munchhausen by proxy, a mental illness where the care-giver intentionally harms the chid in their care to gain sympathy and attention.
The children are allowed to stay with Cathy. Aneta places herself in a psychiatric hospital. After two months she has recovered sufficiently to be discharged. Supervised contact is reinstated. The parents apply to the court to have the children returned but the social services oppose their application. Cathy is convinced the children won’t be returned home, but their lawyer is good. A week later Cathy and her family have to say goodbye to Moly and Kit. The only comfort is that the judge has included a supervision order so the social worker will visit the family regularly and check on the children’s welfare.
Cathy has been a foster carer for over 25 years, during which time she has looked after more than 150 children, of all ages and backgrounds. She is a specialist foster carer, also referred to as a level three carer, which means she often looks after children with complex needs or those with very challenging behaviour. Much of her inspiration for writing comes from fostering. She was awarded a degree in education and psychology, as a mature student.
Cathy has always combined fostering with writing, rising very early every morning in order to write, before the day begins with her ever changi...
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