I Want My Baby Back - A Panorama Special

Monday 13 January



John Sweeney investigates the secretive world of the family courts and asks whether some parents may have unfairly lost their children forever.

The crucial evidence against them came from doctors, who said that tiny fractures on their babies’ X-rays were evidence of abuse. But some experts now believe that lack of vitamin D or rickets might point to another cause for the fractures.

One young mum, Jill, has taken desperate measures after losing her daughter, who was taken away by social services when she was just 10 weeks old. She has gone on the run from the UK to have her second child abroad. But even this drastic step may not protect her from the power of social services.

Sarah and Paul’s son was taken into care when he was three weeks old and x-rays revealed multiple fractures on his legs and ribs. They have since tried to prove their innocence, convinced there must be a medical explanation for what happened. Their son has been in care for four years, in three different foster families and has now been put up for adoption.

Lisa’s two-week-old son was diagnosed with multiple fractures on his ribs. She was severely anaemic during her pregnancy and her vitamin D levels are so low she is still on medication now. But she lost custody of her son and now can only see him twice a year, under strict supervision. Lisa is heartbroken that her son now calls his guardian ‘mummy’ and she is saving every penny to try to afford an appeal.

Amy’s six-week-old son also had multiple fractures. Tests showed he had severe vitamin D deficiency, but doctors believed he had been violently abused and took him and his elder sister into temporary care. The court’s medical experts believed that the injuries were non-accidental but baby Harrison continued to be unwell and Amy was allowed to get a second opinion. She discovered that Harrison had a genetic bone disorder and several weeks later social workers dropped the case and Harrison and his sister came home.