For the second time in a row, the Texas Family and Protective Services agency has been party to what has come to be called "mednapping:" seizing a child from its parents, apparently without any cause beyond the parents’ disagreement with some hospital functionary’s opinion or behavior.
Baby Kathryn Hughes, born with a cleft palate and with extremely rare Pierre Robin Sequence (see: http://www.online-medical-dictionary.org/definitions-p/pierre-robin-sequence.html) went through a series of complex and conflicting diagnoses, with equally conflicting and complex prescriptions and instructions, at UMC hospital of Lubbock, Texas, before her condition was finally diagnosed.
The Texas Child Protective Services agency, acting on a complaint made by a functionary at the Hospital, summarily seized Baby Kathryn. Furthermore, they initiated action to permanently terminate her mother’s parental rights The reason they gave was that the functionary declared the mother "could not have been" following instructions on how to administer the medications.
The agency appears to be uninterested in substantial eyewitness testimony that Mrs. Blaylock was indeed following physician instructions. They have instead relied on the word of the hospital functionary, who appears to have no first-hand experience of the child’s home-care at all.
Some questions come to mind.
Call me a cynic, but it apparently took the hospital a while to figure out what the problem was.
Also, the mother disagreed with some of the things the hospital was doing, and they did them anyway. Is the hospital’s complaint a particularly odious way of trying to avoid a possible malpractice suit?
I don’t know. I hope not. But the question does present itself.
Second, the retired judge who runs the agency, Hon John Specia, seemed to express impatience at regular legislative and judicial oversight of his agency in an October 3rd interview with ABC's KSAT (See: http://www.ksat.com/content/pns/ksat/news/2014/10/03/child-protective-services-undergoing--transformation-.html). Yet, he has a stellar career record, both as a child advocate and as an even-handed jurist. Since he took over, his agency has received plaudits for their improvement. Is His Honor protecting this record by covering for an over-zealous bureaucrat in his department? Again, I hope not. Given the man’s reputation, it seems unthinkable. But the question does present itself.
Finally, where is due process in this picture? Do the self-assumed prerogatives of administrative agencies now override the protections of American families under the law? I would think this would be distasteful to a distinguished jurist like Judge Specia; that he would want more, not less, incorporation into the judicial system he served with such distinction.
Tragically, Texas is not the only place where this sort of thing is happening. “Mednapping” has taken place in various parts of the country, all of it following what looks like the same pattern: a spurious complaint by a self-important hospital functionary to a government agency that appears not to be answerable to anybody but itself, which then proceeds to summarily capture a child.
Now, don’t get me wrong: we need for law enforcement to have an avenue to rescue children from actually abusive situations; that is to say, real law enforcement, properly trained and sworn to city, county or state.
We need the judicial capacity to withdraw custody from actually abusive parents; that is to say, real courts, part of and answerable to the real judicial system.
And we need facilities to house and care for these children during the judicial process and to handle foster placement if the court so orders. If these facilities wish to be called “Child Protective Agencies,” that’s fine. But that should be the limit of their mandate.
What we don’t need is an extrajudicial bureaucracy, unrestrained by the real legal system, that has the power to break up families simply because they give that power to themselves, however nobly motivated they may believe they are.
For more information, see: