Yesterday Linda Pelletier collapsed when the judge ordered her chronically ill daughter, Justina, into non- medical foster care. This is just another chapter in the ongoing tragedy of this family, and the lesson in this horror show is that it can happen to anyone.
The nightmare started last year when Justina Pelletier’s parents rushed her to the hospital because she had come down with the flu. Since she had been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, they knew it could be dangerous for their fragile daughter. Before they realized what was happening, she was incarcerated in Boston Childrens’ Hospital as a psychiatric patient. The hospital brought in two doctors that delivered the verdict, even though the teenager had been under the care of doctors from the reputable Tufts Medical Center. That was the beginning of ongoing horror. Justine’s parents eventually lost custody of their daughter. Since she became a ward of the state her condition has deteriorated to the point that her parents are afraid for her life. Read here and here. In addition, the family is under a gag order. Who would believe that this could happen in the United States of America? Unfortunately, me
I became embroiled in a similar case more than ten years ago. I thank G-d that couple got their son back because it could have turned out very differently.
When we first moved to Florida I decided to take a year off and volunteer in some capacity within the “system.” Since I have an eclectic background in both psychology and teaching I became a guardian-ad- litem; a watchdog appointed by the court. My first case involved a two year old boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a history of seizures who had been taken from his British parents. His mother was accused of purposely making him ill, which is one of the criteria in the DSM to diagnose Munchhausen by Proxy. The couple were on the track to losing the rights to their only child.
At various times I’ve worked for the big bureaucratic machine, and learned that most people, including judges, don’t read files. I do. I found paperwork from the child’s infancy in England corroborating his special needs status at birth. Apparently it didn’t matter. The frightened and traumatized special needs toddler had been unceremoniously dumped into a shelter with low wage workers caring for him, instead of getting the therapy he needed. I monitored the parents and the pitiable child who had no understanding of what happened. I reported my findings to the court, including that the toddler had been sick during his internment at the shelter and recommended the child be returned ASAP. The family court judge didn’t uphold my recommendation and had the frantic husband and wife continue going to different parenting and drug classes, even though there was not even an accusation of drug or alcohol usage. While their child languished and deteriorated in the shelter the parents had to do exactly what the court ordered or they knew they’d never get their son back.
I read and reread the file because I thought I missed something. This family was virtually ripped apart by the state of Florida so I thought there had to be a reason.There was nothing. The little boy’s mother, who had worked as a nursing assistant, called 911 when her son had a seizure. The operator thought she was too calm. The state abduction was based on the “stiff upper lip” emergency call and the child’s mother fixing his IV. One witness reporting these “incidents” to DCF and the jackboots came down with a thud. I was especially appalled because I found NO EVIDENCE of any abuse or neglect, however, I did discover something interesting. The doctor who signed off on this nefarious plan had been involved with the Bush Munchhausen case in 1996. Read here.
As I watched this couple soldier on through every obstacle the county had erected to sustain its power and cash flow, I watched the little boys mental and physical health deteriorate. (More here about federal dollars.) I continued to beseech the court for the boy’s mental and physical health. It didn’t seem to concern the judge.
Then I had an accident and couldn’t attend a hearing, so I wrote my recommendations and sent them in. According to the parents a miracle happened. They got their son back. I was told that the judge mistakenly thought my credentials read MD instead of MA. Personally I don’t care why. I am just thankful I could help that family. because as we see in the Justina Pellitier case they could have lost their son forever. As Americans we think it can’t happen here, but I’ve worked for the Department of Children and Families, and it does. The judge, caseworkers, and lawyers all work together for the government. It’s them against us. So once someone is arrested or investigated by the system all the government employees work together to do whatever the government expects. Just like the poor fly in the spider’s web, once you’re caught you get eaten. And we know the government’s web is as convoluted as a labyrinth.