This past October (2009), Jon and I, on advice of our family physician following an office visit, had a consult with a local pediatrician, we’ll call her Dr. B.
Our family doctor was somewhat concerned about Noah not gaining weight as rapidly as the growth chart would like, thus the reason we were referred to Dr. B for blood work and additional testing, if needed.
Our problems began upon entering Dr. B’s office on October 30, 2009 when the receptionist tried to transfer Noah’s records over as a new patient and we explained that we were there for a consult via our physician, at which point, the overall mood of the office changed dramatically.
Dr. B was very rough in her handling of Noah during the examination as well as being rude to us. This went a long way in our assessment of her as a doctor. We attempted to tell her that there is something on Jon’s mother’s side of the family that causes some family members to be extremely small. She refused to even consider this as a possibility. This frustrated us as we believe this familial history as something to be weighed heavily.
Suddenly, Dr. B proceeded to inform us that she wanted Noah hospitalized immediately. She did not tell us why other than she was concerned about him. After listening to Dr. B’s assessment of Noah, Jon and I conferred and decided that we did not feel comfortable with her assessment. We determined that we were going to return to our doctor for his opinion and, if our physician thought it necessary, perhaps even get another pediatric assessment.
We spoke again with our family physician’s office. Our doctor still did not believe Noah to be in imminent danger and agreed with our desire to obtain a second pediatric opinion. Upon being apprised of this by our GP’s office, Dr. B made the threat that if Noah was not admitted to hospital by noon on Tuesday, November 3, 2009, that she would file a report with DCS.
We had an appointment for Noah scheduled for that Wednesday, November 4, 2009, with another pediatrician who was recommended to us by some local mamas. Upon speaking again with our physician’s office, we did not see a need to admit him before seeing that pediatrician for his opinion. It is our belief that with Dr. B’s threat that she would report us to DCS if we did not comply with her wishes falls dangerously close to blackmail.
Again, Jon and I conferred. Admittedly, we resented this doctor who had never seen our son before to strong-arm us into something that our own doctor didn’t feel necessary. We went in to our doctor’s office that morning and had Noah weighed. To everyone’s relief he was back on the growth chart. Our doctor’s office welcomed our decision to still contact a second pediatrician for an assessment and again reiterated their belief that hospitalization was a rash decision.
On Friday, October 30, 2009, Jon’s sister-in-law, a pediatric nurse, suggested that we merely increase Noah’s caloric intake somewhat, which we began doing immediately. Noah was in the process of gaining weight between his appointment with our family doctor on Wednesday, October 28, 2009, the appointment on Friday, October 31, 2009 with Dr. B, and the follow-up appointment with our doctor on Monday, November 2, 2009. Our doc’s office noted that Noah was back on the growth chart at that Monday appointment.
On Tuesday, November 3, 2009, we were visited by a man and a woman from DCS, escorted by two local police officers demanding to see our son. We felt we had nothing to hide so we allowed them into our office and spoke with them. The woman immediately requested that Noah be stripped down to his diaper so that she might see him.
The woman and the man informed us that Noah would be going to the hospital, whether by their doing or ours. We were informed that we had no choice in the matter and that Noah was going, regardless. No warrant was ever produced.
Jon and I drove Noah to Riley Hospital where he was examined by doctors who preferred to speak more to the DCS caseworkers than to us, Noah’s own parents, even though, at that time, no petition had been filed by DCS against us.
Around 2:00 pm on Tuesday, November 3, 2009, an attending doctor at Riley Hospital, examined Noah after his arrival and told us directly that he would like to have Noah treated as an outpatient. He then returned to the hallway where a very lengthy conversation between medical personnel and DCS took place, during which we were completely excluded.
We were left sitting in the room until about 5:30 pm during which time we were informed by the DCS workers that Noah was staying and that they were filing charges against us in court the following day. It is our contention that this delay was done deliberately in an effort to prevent us from obtaining legal counsel or contacting our physician. It is also our belief that this stops just short of criminal confinement.
When we appeared in court the following day (Wednesday, November 4, 2009), we were given copies of the documents that DCS had submitted to the court in which, it is our contention that DCS actually perjured themselves by intentionally leaving out pertinent information that showed that a charge of neglect is completely unfounded.
Jon has been trained by the United States Army as a Combat Lifesaver. While serving in Afghanistan, he went into several villages where there were actual starving children. They were starving to the point that the medical personnel running the clinics had orders in place not to give any of the children anything out of their MRE’s because the sudden jump in caloric intake could kill the children. Jon has seen starving, dying children. At no point did our son look like one of those children and to have someone tell Jon that Noah did is sickening to him. If at any point, we felt that Noah was in need of lifesaving measures, we would have admitted him immediately.
According to IC 31-34-1, the very code we were being charged under, we did not fit the two requirements listed. Noah’s physical condition was not seriously impaired or seriously endangered as a result of the inability, refusal, or neglect by us, his parents, who provided him food, clothing, shelter, medical care and supervision. Education does not apply as he is less than school age. The second criteria are that he needed care, treatment, or rehabilitation that he was not receiving and would be unlikely to receive. This is also unfounded as Noah has been to his physician on multiple occasions. We had an appointment to take Noah to one more pediatrician in an effort to make certain that hospitalization would have actually been the correct thing as our family physician did not recommend hospitalization at that time, yet another physician did. We had an appointment and were in the process of taking appropriate measures based on the information we had.
Our six year old is afraid that her family is being ripped apart which is, in essence, what DCS is attempting to do. She has lived the last several months terrified that DCS would take her brother away.
The initial attorney we had wanted us to take a deal, something that was tantamount to a plea bargain, to make it all go away. The “deal” is called an Informal Adjustment. If you know what a plea bargain is, you already understand an IA. The actual “deal” we were offered was for them to drop all charges on Jon – so as to protect his Army Reserve career as well as the pending adoption that we have been trying to finish – and I would take the IA where I would a) be put on the Indiana child abuse registry, and b) agree to do whatever they wanted me to for a period of six months, after which they could either a) leave us alone, or b) ask a judge to let them continue in our lives.
After being offered this deal – but never actually getting it in writing – I spoke with three different attorneys, all of whom said that it was no deal at all. The one in particular stated that were I his daughter, he would not let me take it. We went with that attorney.
Fortunately, after hiring him – at a very high price, I might add – we finally recently got word that the CHINS case is being dismissed. The actual paperwork where the judge signed off on it arrived in the mail yesterday.
We couldn’t be happier.
Why am I telling you this? Because I want to spare you the ordeal that we went through. Here’s really all you need to know – yes, I’ve done hours of research on this after being thrown into the system as we were: If anyone from DCS comes to your door, bring the child in question to either the door or window so that DCS may see him/her. Then ask for a warrant. If they have seen the child, they may go to the judge to get a warrant, but if the judge asks them if they saw the child, they say yes. The judge then wants to know if they saw anything wrong with the child. If the answer is no – assuming you really don’t abuse your kids, of course – the judge will see no reason to sign a warrant.
NEVER LET THEM IN YOUR HOUSE because you don’t have to without a warrant!! As soon as you let them in, you waive all rights. With DCS, it’s not really “innocent until proven guilty”, it’s guilty until you can manage to prove otherwise. The people who are most likely to lose their kids are the ones who think they’ve got nothing to hide and let DCS in.
Get it? Got it? Good.
As an aside, I have now heard from two different sources that once DCS gets involved, you are automatically put on a child abuse registry. All the more reason to not let them in, eh??
Edited to add: We got in contact with the ACLU, but they were not interested even though many of our civil rights were violated: By the plainclothes officer who showed up, showed us the gun at his side, did not identify himself before he forced us to leave the restaurant we were at to return to our office where DCS agents waited. The violations of HIPAA that occurred when Riley Hospital did not inform us of anything – even though we had not yet been charged with anything – keeping us totally in the dark while the ER docs had long conversations with DCS, not us, the parents…. So yeah, it seems that the ACLU only has cajones unless and until DCS is involved. As a result of this, I have lost much respect for the once-great organization.