When Cathy is first asked to foster one-day old Harrison her only concern is if she will remember how to look after a baby. But upon collecting Harrison from the hospital, Cathy realises she has more to worry than she thought when she discovers that his background is shrouded in secrecy.
She isn’t told why Harrison is in foster care and his social worker says only a few are aware of his very existence, and if his whereabouts became known his life, and that of his parents, could be in danger. Cathy tries to put her worries aside as she looks after Harrison, a beautiful baby, who is alert and engaging. Cathy and her children quickly bond with Harrison although they know that, inevitably, he will eventually be adopted.
But when a woman Cathy doesn’t know starts appearing in the street outside her house acting suspiciously, Cathy fears for her own family’s safety and demands some answers from Harrison’s social worker. The social worker tells Cathy a little but what she says is very disturbing . How is this woman connected to Harrison and can she answer the questions that will affect Harrison’s whole life?
When Cathy is told about Melody’s terrible childhood, she is sure she’s heard it all before. But it isn’t long before she feels there is more going on than she or the social services are aware of. Although Melody is angry at having to leave her mother, as many children coming into care are, she also worries about her obsessively – far more than is usual. Amanda, Melody’s mother, is also angry and takes it out on Cathy at contact, which again is something Cathy has experienced before. Yet there is a lost and vulnerable look about Amanda, and Cathy starts to see why Melody worries about her and feels she needs looking after.
When Amanda misses contact, it is assumed she has forgotten, but nothing could have been further from the truth...
Elaine and Ian had travelled half way round the world to adopt little Anna. She couldn’t have been more wanted, loved and cherished. So why was she now in foster care and living with me? It didn’t make sense.
Until I learned what had happened. ...
Dressed only in nappies and ragged T-shirts the children were incarcerated in their cots. Their large eyes stared out blankly from emaciated faces. Some were obviously disabled, others not, but all were badly undernourished. Flies circled around the broken ceiling fans and buzzed against the grids covering the windows. The only toys were a few balls and a handful of building bricks, but no child played with them. The silence was deafening and unnatural. Not one of the thirty or so infants cried, let alone spoke.
Tayo arrives at Cathy’s with only the clothes he stands up in. He has been brought to her by the police, but he is calm, polite, and very well spoken, and not at all like the children she normally fosters. The social worker gives Cathy the forms which should contain Tayo’s history, but apart from his name and age, it is blank. Tayo has no past.
Tayo is an 'invisible' child, kidnapped from his loving father in Nigeria and brought illegally to the UK by his drink and drugs dependent prostitute mother, where he is put to work in a sweat shop in Central London. When he sustains an injury and is no longer earning, he is cast out.
When Cathy takes Tayo to school he points out a dozen different addresses where he has stayed in the last six months, often being left alone. Tayo lies, and manipulates situations to his own advantage and Cathy has to be continually on guard. Tayo’s social worker searches all computer databases but there is no record of Tayo – he has only attended school for 3 terms and has never seen a doctor. He and his mother have been evading the authorities by living ‘underground’.
With his mother recently released from prison, Tayo is desperate to live with his father in Nigeria, but no one can track him down or even prove that he exists.
Eight-year-old Aimee was on the child protection register at birth. Her five older siblings were taken into care many years ago. So no one can understand why she was left at home to suffer for so long. It seems Aimee was forgotten.
The social services are looking for a very experienced foster carer to look after Aimee and, when she reads the referral, Cathy understands why. Despite her reservations, Cathy agrees to Aimee on – there is something about her that reminds Cathy of Jodie (the subject of ‘Damaged’ and the most disturbed child Cathy has cared for), and reading the report instantly tugs at her heart strings.
When she arrives, Aimee is angry. And she has every right to be. She has spent the first eight years of her life living with her drug-dependent mother in a flat that the social worker described as ‘not fit for human habitation’. Aimee is so grateful as she snuggles into her bed at Cathy’s house on the first night that it brings Cathy to tears.
Aimee’s aggressive mother is constantly causing trouble at contact, and makes sweeping allegations against Cathy and her family in front of her daughter as well. It is a trying time for Cathy, and it makes it difficult for Aimee to settle. But as Aimee begins to trust Cathy, she starts to open up. And the more Cathy learns about Aimee’s life before she came into care, the more horrified she becomes.
It’s clear that Aimee should have been rescued much sooner and as her journey seems to be coming to a happy end, Cathy can’t help but reflect on all the other ‘forgotten children’ that are still suffering...