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'Traumatic to witness a lack of empathy' says mother of apprehended newborn

Last Updated Jan 15, 2019 at 3:50 pm CDT


Mother of newborn says she loves her baby and wants what is best in statement

Woman says there was a notarized plan to transfer guardianship to family member

Family hoping to know more about potential reunification on Jan. 16

WINNIPEG (CITYNEWS) – A Manitoba woman who had her newborn baby taken away from her by Child and Family Services (CFS) says she loves her baby very much and calls CFS officers lacking in empathy.

Two videos, one broadcast live on Facebook by the woman’s uncle, showed CFS taking the baby from the crying mother while she was surrounded by family on Friday.

Eventually, police place the newborn into a car seat and take her away. In the videos, the mother is not told when she might see her baby again. The mother, who cannot be identified under Manitoba law, has released a statement through the First Nations Family Advocate Office, saying she, like all mothers, loves her baby very much.

She explains there was a plan for the baby to stay within the family with her aunt set to take over legal guardianship. CFS stepped in before that could happen.

“I am doing everything that CFS is asking of me to ensure the return of my baby to my family,” the statement reads.

“We are disappointed [plans to transfer guardianship] were not followed but we are pursuing our goal to have my newborn baby placed in the care of my auntie as soon as possible.”

The baby was taken away because of a false accusation that the mother was drunk when she arrived at the hospital to give birth, the woman’s aunt said.

The videos show family members telling social workers the accusation was not true. They ask whether the baby could stay with one of them instead of being taken away. The request is denied.

WATCH: Outrage over seizure of newborn by CFS

In the statement, the mother goes on to explain this was her first pregnancy in 22 years and that she wishes to still have some sort of bond with the child.

“I had no idea that babies were being apprehended every day from their mothers. I am sad this occurs so frequently.”

Statistics from the Manitoba government show newborn apprehensions occur, on average, about once a day in the province. About 90 per cent of kids in care are Indigenous.

“It has been traumatic to witness the lack of empathy and compassion shown during the apprehension of my child and even during my first court appearance. I am thankful if my baby and I have brought some awareness to this situation that is happening here in Manitoba.”

Cora Morgan, a family advocate for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said the mother may have been targeted for a “birth alert”, a note to social workers that an expectant mother is high-risk because she had another daughter who was temporarily in care several years ago.

The woman had previously sought help for addictions and with parenting from Child and Family Services, Morgan said, but was not intoxicated when she arrived at the hospital to give birth.

The General Child and Family Services Authority, which oversees the social workers involved, would not reveal details of the case Friday, but stood by its decision. Still, the woman is optimistic she will hold her baby in her arms again.

“I thank everyone for their messages of support and for their concern. I hope I can share good news about the return of my baby to the care of my family in the near future.”

The family is hoping to find out a date for reunification on Jan. 16.