Yahoo reports that Erica May Carey gave birth to her twins, a son and a daughter, just two months ago, but she and her husband Cleave Rengo say they have barely seen them since. That’s because Child Protective Services removed the babies, along with her 1-year-old son, from the family’s home in Bellingham, Wash., just a few days after they were born.
The title begs my indignation and a question– How did women give birth before modern medicine if CPS deems these parents unfit because they didn’t go to the hospital after the birth?
CPS was questioned and they replied that the removal had nothing to do with the home birth, rather due to Carey’s “refusal to provide medical treatment to the children.” Because the case is pending, CPS and law enforcement had nothing to add.
I recommend that you read the article (hyperlinked in bold). They do a very good job of recounting the cases where CPS has stepped in to take custody of children- anywhere from perceived neglect to disagreements over vegan lifestyle choices.
I don’t know about the other mothers reading this blog, but in the absence of other information, this article is scary. I frequently disagree with my daycare provider’s decisions on what Andrew should or should not eat, when he’s sick and when he’s just teething, and how many naps he should be taking. If we get into a particularly nasty disagreement on lifestyle choices, would CPS pay me a visit?
This is a very sticky subject for me, as I received unsolicited advice ALL the time. And the people who dispense advice can be quite militant (re: Breaking Up With A Toxic Friend). Parenting is a very personal experience. Some radical breastfeeding advocates think bottle feeding is a form of neglect. Some doctors believe choosing not to vaccinate is a form of neglect and a public safety risk (I don’t argue that they aren’t right– I vaccinate Andrew– I argue that they shouldn’t be making the call to CPS). Calling a family neglectful over lifestyle choices is a very slippery slope.
My personal belief is that CPS should stick to a very narrow definition and use removal only as the last resort. Neglect should be defined as “intentional and deliberate” not subjective to a case worker or vote by committee. An unfit parent who neglects their child due to ignorance should be counseled. If there is a clear, willful action to deprive the child of necessities like shelter, food, water, safety, basic health and clothing, this fits the narrow definition. If a family is just clueless, the social worker needs to institute a probationary counseling period where the child stays in the home, but receives weekly counseling and monitoring, not removal and jail time/fines for the parents. This only hurts the child. If Casey deprived her children of serious medical needs as the Washington State CPS asserts, then she should be counseled. They are deeply religious and believe in the power of prayer. Her eldest has eczema, a common skin rash, and they chose to medicate using holistic means. There is nothing wrong with that and not an issue the government has a right to decide.
Until CPS communicates more about the case, I can only guess the reason as to why her children were removed based on her opinion. However, I think it has more to do with CPS’ lack of training and bureaucratic/political issues with their process. I also find it suspect that the CPS didn’t communicate how they define neglect for all their cases.
Until more information is available, my thoughts are with Casey and her husband. I hope they get their kids back soon and CPS amends and communicates their policies. If CPS is correct and there was neglect, I hope the family receives counseling rather than becoming another statistic in the system.