Exeter woman's desperate plea to keep her baby
A TEENAGE Exeter mum has made an emotional plea to be allowed to keep her soon-to-be-born child.
Stephanie Pike, 19, of Thornpark Rise, Whipton, who is seven months pregnant with Sophia, says she has deep concerns because of her previous involvement with social services, which the Echo is unable to disclose for legal reasons.
Stephanie, a former pupil of St Luke’s, was herself in the care of social services as a 14-year-old.
She became pregnant with Sophia at the end of 2012 and says she has real fears that her baby may be taken into care.
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She said: “Social services have told me that they have concerns, but I will be fighting to keep Sophia.
“I have been in touch with my MP Ben Bradshaw and my local councillor. I am trying to get a flat in Exeter so I can look after my child.
“I am doing everything I can – but it seems impossible to take on social services and win.”
Stephanie said she used to smoke cannabis and drink alcohol but she does so no longer and has turned her life around.
She said: “I didn’t drink or do drugs once I was pregnant. I now have an exercise bike I use and I regularly walk the dog – I am keeping fit for my baby.
“I am not giving up on this, I want my baby.”
Stephanie’s mother Carol Challice said she was completely behind her daughter in her fight to keep Sophia.
Mrs Challice said: “Stephanie may have had her problems in the past, but they are all behind her now.
“I know she would make a wonderful mother and I just want to be able to hold my grandchild.
“I am very supportive of Stephanie. She has turned her life around. She has gone to all the right meetings, mother and baby courses.
“She can get references about how she can look after children. We need help.”
Mr Bradshaw said he was looking into the matter.
A spokesman for Devon County Council said: “We cannot comment on the individual circumstances of any of the children and families we work with. However, we take the safeguarding of children very seriously, and our priority is always the safety and welfare of the child.
“In cases like this we rely on medical evidence and the opinions of health professionals, and where that throws into question the safety of children, and the environments in which they are living, we are duty bound to act in their best interests.
“Family courts decide independently and without prejudice who children live with in future, and whether a child is taken into the care of the local authority, based on the medical evidence and with full knowledge of all the facts, including the views of the parents.”