Well done to Featureworld interviewee Dr Alex Shergold on having her book Chronicles of Michael Part one published.
In 2008 Alex emailed me through the Sell My Story contact form of my Featureworld website. Her husband Michael had been contacted by social services telling him he was the dad of a son he never knew he had. Andrew, five, was born after Michael had split with a previous girlfriend and Michael had no idea he even existed. More bizarre Social Services wanted him to agree to Andrew, whose mum could no longer care for him, being adopted.
As you can imagine, this was a bombshell for Alex and Michael – but in fact Alex stood by him. More than this, they both felt if Michael had a son, they did not want him to be adopted by stranger and he should live with them. However, when they went to social services, they discovered he was already living with the family that wanted him. And social services didn’t even want to consider that Michael and Alex could have him instead (despite the fact they both had other children themselves.) As Alex and Michael looked into this more, they then discovered what they believed was the real reason why social services rang Michael. Andrew had a medical problem that meant unless he had a transplant from a blood relative, he would not live beyond his teenage years.
They wanted Michael to agree to give Andrew this transplant – but bizarrely even if he agreed, Michael would never be allowed to see Andrew. Incredibly, if the transplant worked, Andrew would also never be told it was from his father.
At the time social services placed an injunction on this story to stop it being told. But after a legal battle, this was lifted and I wrote this story for the Mail on Sunday newspaper. You can click on the book cover to read it.
Today Michael is still fighting to see Andrew – and now Alex has written a book about their battle for Michael’s son. It is available from Amazon here.
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Teen Emily Gaffney and mum Debbie told their extraordinary real life story in the MAIL ON SUNDAY newspaper at the weekend.
The case of Emily Gaffney has already made the legal history as it’s one of the first times in the UK that a family court has allowed a child to choose which parent she lives with.
Emily, her mum, Debbie, sister and dad Ian, originally left the UK to live in Canada in search of a better life. But Debbie and Ian’s marriage was already rocky and although Ian loved Canada, Debbie and the girls couldn’t settle. They became terribly homesick for all their friends and family back in Middlesbrough in the UK.
Yet when Debbie suggested to Ian they move back, he refused. Their relationship worsened and eventually one day she left without telling him. She felt incredibly guilty but simply couldn’t stay in Canada any longer.
Six months later, however, the Police turned up on Debbie’s doorstep and under the Hague Convention accused her of abducting her own daughters from Canada. A court case also decreed the girls should be returned to Canada where the issue of which parent they should live with would be decided.
But Emily and Lucy didn’t want to leave the UK to live with their dad. And in an unprecedented step, Emily wrote a letter to the judges in the High Court to say they wanted to stay with their mum. She then went to London and during the appeal met the judges. It was a tearful discussion as Emily was forced to choose between her parents.
In overturning the previous judgement to send the girls back to Canada, the judges praised Emily for her maturity and she and her sister were allowed to stay with their mum in the UK.
Debbie, who was astonished she could ever have been charged with abduction from a country she and her daughters only lived in for 18 months, was incredibly relieved as she feared she’d lose both the girls.
Debbie and her daughters are now happily settled back in the UK and their emotional story appeared in the Mail on Sunday over two pages.
Debbie said: “The story in the Mail on Sunday was simply brilliant. Emily and I were thrilled with both the feature and photos and delighted Alison was able to get our story into such a top newspaper.”
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