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June 26, 2015
This piece comes to us from Carlos Morales, a former Child Protective Services investigator, now the supremely disillusioned author of “Legally Kidnapped: The Case Against Child Protective Services.” Carlos is president and founder of Child Protective Services Victim Support, and a legal advocate for family reunification. He lives in Manchester, NH. The second edition of his book is now available with an additional chapter on “Medical Kidnapping,” excerpted below.
How The Government Made Parents Fear Doctors, by Carlos Morales
The term “medically kidnapped” is a recent turn of phrase, due to what appears to be an epidemic of Child Protective Services taking children way from parents after someone has submitted a report when a child goes to the hospital. The reasons for these reports can range from simple misunderstandings by medical practitioners, to allegations of parental drug abuse, to legitimate concerns of physical or sexual abuse, and so on. As is the case with most atrocities in life, the intent is usually born from benevolence rather than malevolence. Within the United States, alternative media outlets have been covering this growing phenomenon that’s resulted in the removal of children for parental drug use—in many cases, marijuana use. While American’s view of cannabis use is changing for the better, as many states have begun to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana use, those very states are still removing children from parents under the veneer of negligence.
The way by which Child Protective Services has been getting a lot of information is through mandatory reporting by medical practitioners—quite a few hospitals run drug tests on soon-to-be parents during pregnancy. As a result, the health practitioner is put in the difficult position whereby, even if they don’t believe marijuana could hurt a child, the state would consider them criminals if they didn’t report the illegal actions of the parent. This creates potentially hostile relationship dynamics between parents and health practitioners, which can make parents afraid to be open with doctors and nurses. As a result, this can endanger their lives and those of their children. The state creates a vicious circle whereby its definition of “the well-being of the child” comes before the child’s true well-being.
But to make the statement that a child would be worse off with a parent who smokes marijuana than a foster home is odd: the statistics regarding foster homes are staggering. Foster kids are seven to eight times more likely to be abused than non-foster children, and nearly half will end up homeless when they age-out at eighteen. They are three times more likely to be put on psychotropic drugs, and they are seven times more likely to develop an eating disorder. They are more likely to have PTSD than veterans of war, and less likely to recover from it. They are more likely to become pregnant as teenagers. They are also 20 percent more likely to be arrested. And tragically, they are six times more likely to die than if they stayed even in an abusive family household.
If we want to truly protect children, then we most remove the vacuous notions of the perfect parent.
Many of the doctors who have made the mistake of working with CPS and other state agencies believed that it was the only option they had. The saddest part is that this is true. The state monopolizes “protection” and prevents grace, tact, and resolution. Doctors are not your enemy any more than a farmer is your enemy—both have a valuable job to do, and both can provide for your well-being. The dismantling of the power structures that dictate doctors’ actions is the only way to produce a society in which people of good intent can work toward the well-being of those who cannot take care of themselves.
Lenore here: I do not know how pervasive the problem of removing kids for “medical” reasons from loving-but-imperfect homes is. But any rules that refuse to allow a professional to use his or her discretion in such a fraught situation are obviously laws based upon worst-first thinking. In other words, they require thinking up the worst case scenario first — “What if this child dies in the parent’s care?” as well as, “I would be blamed!” — and proceeding as if this is likely to happen. Of course, this discounts any realistic consideration of what might happen to the child once the wheels are set in motion. But then again, once those wheels are moving, it is no longer the doctor’s “fault” or even the state’s. They did what they were mandated to do, the end. Brain, compassion and nuance be damned. Rules rule! – L
Your blood pressure seems to be rising ever since I told you I have to take your kids away.