Faye is 24, pregnant, and has learning difficulties as a result of her mother’s alcoholism. Faye is gentle, childlike and vulnerable, and normally lives with her grandparents, both of whom have mobility problems. Cathy and her children welcome Faye into their home and hearts. The care plan is for Faye to stay with Cathy until after the birth when she will return home and the baby will go for adoption. Given that Faye never goes out alone it is something of a mystery how she ever became pregnant and Faye says it’s a secret.
To begin with Faye won’t acknowledge she is pregnant or talk about the changes in her body as she worries it will upset her grandparents, but after her social worker assures her she can talk to Cathy she opens up. However, this leads to Faye realizing just how much she will lose and she changes her mind and says she wants to keep her baby.
Is it possible Faye could learn enough to parent her child? Cathy believes it is, and Faye’s social worker is obliged to give Faye the chance.
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.
Cruel To Be Kind is the true story of Max, aged 6. He is fostered by Cathy while his mother is in hospital with complications from type 2 diabetes. Fostering Max gets off to a bad start when his mother, Caz, complains and threatens Cathy even before Max has moved in. Cathy and her family are shocked when they first meet Max. But his social worker isn’t the only one in denial; his whole family are too.
Beth is a sweet-natured child who appears to have been well looked after. But it isn’t long before Cathy begins to have concerns that the relationship between Beth and her father is not as it should be.
Little Beth, aged 7, has been brought up by her father Derek after her mother left when she was a toddler. When Derek is suddenly admitted to hospital with psychiatric problems Beth is taken into care and arrives at Cathy’s.
Beth and her father clearly love each other very much and Derek spoils his daughter, treating her like a princess, but there is something bothering Cathy, something she can’t quite put her finger on.
Meanwhile Cathy’s husband is working away a lot and coming home less at weekends. Then, suddenly, everything changes. Events take a dramatic turn for both Beth and Cathy and her family; as Cathy strives to pick up the pieces all their lives are changed forever.
When Casey first meets Kiera, a small slight girl who’s just lashed out at a fellow pupil in assembly, she immediately senses something’s wrong. Something in Kiera’s eyes alerts Casey that this is an “old head on young shoulders”, and with Kiera’s constant tiredness and self-soothing habit of pulling her hair out, she follows her instinct and takes Kiera under her wing.
At first the answer seems simple enough; Kiera’s parents aren’t together and they don’t get on, which makes life hard for Kiera as she’s so close to her dad. But as the weeks roll on, Casey begins to understand that there’s something much darker going on behind closed doors. And when she finally learns the truth, she’s terrified she won’t be able to save Kiera from it.
Rosie is used to looking after children from difficult home situations, but she finds herself struggling when she agrees to take in Taylor and her younger brother, Reece, for a short while. Taylor tries desperately not to fit in, to be the tough young teen that she has had to become, making it clear that she cares about nothing and no-one, while Reece is just desperate for someone to love him. Rosie finds herself battling an unknown monster in their past, as social media and the Internet become a means to control and manipulate the siblings while in her care. And then a more sinister turn of events causes Rosie to dig into their past, desperate to discover the truth before her time with them is over and they must be returned to their family.
When Cathy is asked to foster little Alex, aged 7, her immediate reaction is: Why can’t he stay with his present carers for the last month? He’s already had many moves since coming into care as a toddler and he’ll only be with her a short while before he goes to live with his permanent adoptive family. But the present carers are expecting a baby and the foster mother isn’t coping, so Alex goes to live with Cathy.
He settles easily and is very much looking forward to having a forever family of his own. The introductions and move to his adoptive family go well. But Alex is only with them for a week when problems begin. What happens next is both shocking and upsetting, and calls into question the whole adoption process.
A vulnerable and shy girl, Becky Watts was brutally murdered and dismembered by her own step-brother on 19 February 2015. As her father Darren discovered the horrific details of what happened to his darling girl, his world fell apart.
Writing about the darkest hours, Darren uncovers what Becky’s relationship with her step-brother Nathan, a child he had raised as his own son, was really like. He recalls the devastation of discovering the truth about the depravity with which Becky was torn from him in the safety of her own home. And he recounts the torment of the legal battle to see his step-son sentenced to life behind bars.
Both heartfelt and haunting, searingly honest and unflinching, this is the ultimate story of a family tragedy.