Only way Tracey stood a
chance was if she had been adopted
Sunday March 07 2010
Poor girl's troubles
didn't begin in State care, they began with a selfish mum who put her
own needs first, writes Carol Hunt
WHEN Tracey Fay was put
into the care of the then Eastern Health Board, she was 14 years of age
and a dead girl walking.
Listening to the
various reports of the desperate life that Tracey endured for her 18
short, sad years, it's easy to point the finger at our social services,
the State, the HSE, the damned invisible system that just won't take
responsibility for our children.
It's much easier than
admitting Tracey was betrayed initially and repeatedly by her family --
that much lauded cornerstone of Irish society.
Yes, the social
services made mistakes; yes, they are short-staffed and under-funded;
yes, we need radical changes in our care system, but really, would
anything have made a difference when one considers the facts of this
While I have the
greatest sympathy for any mother whose child dies, especially in such a
sad way, the facts show that Doreen Fay was not, as she repeatedly
insists, "a good mother to my daughter".
And yet, she expected
the State to be and now claims repeatedly in the media, that she is
being "abused" by them as her daughter was.
Last week I heard a
commentator say that Tracey's troubles began when her mother left her in
the care of the State. This is bullshit.
The damage that was
done to Tracey Fay had already happened: through the years of neglect,
physical and emotional abuse, and most damaging of all, the lack of love
-- from a father who didn't want to know and a mother who put herself
and her men ahead of her child's most basic welfare and seemed to think
the State should provide everything she needed in life.
If Tracey was ever to
have half a chance of a decent life, the State should have intervened
when it was obvious that her natural mother was not able/willing to care
for her, when Tracey was a toddler, and put her into the permanent care
of a loving couple.
But of course, even if
they had wanted to they couldn't do that. "Parents" have
rights in Ireland that seem to supersede those of the child.
Unfortunately, some parents don't accept that with these rights come
responsibilities. And responsibility to a child means not putting them
in harm's way. It's not allowing your child to be repeatedly physically
assaulted and psychologically abused by you or your partners (recorded
in Tracey's case in Britain), and certainly not abandoning them to
social services at the tender age of 14 while you live with your other
children in another country.
Increasingly, we seem
to live in a society where some people expect, nay, demand multiple
rights -- to a home, to a financial income, to a myriad of state
services -- but are unwilling to accept that they also have a
responsibility to contribute to that society if it is going to work.
The bottom line is:
there is only so much money to go around and if we all take from the
system without contributing it's bound to collapse. This culture of
demanding dependency can be seen everywhere, from the way parents refuse
to take responsibility for their children to the extraordinary mindset
of privilege and rights shown by certain sectors of the public service.
Tracey Fay should never
have ended up being cared for by the State. She had grandparents
(admittedly her now deceased grandmother had told the social services
her daughter wasn't a good mother), and a large extended family.
Should they not have
demanded that Doreen Fay cop on, face her responsibilities, get herself
back to Ireland, and with help from them, care for her child?
Tracey gave birth to
two children who were given up for adoption to loving, responsible
parents. She herself, God love her, would most probably still be alive
today if she had also been so lucky.
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