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Parents Say Hospital Kidnapped Their Daughter (UPDATE)

Affiliate Disclosure | in Everything Else | by | with 136 Comments

A Miracle for Justina/ Via Facebook

Lego Booby Traps and Never Ending Laundry

. . . it may not be the Hallmark commercial we meant to sign up for, but you and I know that we’d choose it all over again in a heartbeat. Parenting may mean more pukey sheets and less sleep than we imagined, but our children are warm, fed, and most of all loved. If the Department of Child and Family Services (DCF) showed up at our front door, we’d think they got the wrong address.

But what if they didn’t.

What if – despite no indication of neglect or abuse – they took our children from their beds and placed them in the system? If it sounds far-fetched, let me tell you a story.

Justina Pelletier is not your average 15 year old.

She’s spent most of the past year locked up in a state psychiatric ward against her will, without the consent of her parents, and against the medical advice of her longstanding treating physician. Her family has nearly gone bankrupt trying to get her out. (source)

Her dad Lou is defying a gag order to tell her story on ABC News, FOX News, the Glenn Beck show, and many other media outlets. When FOX News reporter Megyn Kelly asked him why – and whether he was worried about the consequences of speaking out – he replied “I’m saving my daughter’s life. I’m not worried about the consequences to me.” (source)

Why does the Pelletier family fear their daughter is at risk in the state’s care? Because she’s gone 13 months without the medical care Dr. Mark Korson – Chief of Metabolism at Tufts Medical Center and former treating physician to Justina- says she needs. In addition she has been removed from school and not been provided any supplemental education, nor has she had access to religious clergy despite the family’s request. If you haven’t been following the story, here’s what you need to know:

Anatomy Of A Legalized Abduction

A few years ago Justina was diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder, which is a “disruption in the cellular energy centers of our bodies, the mitochondria.” The “body’s demands exceed the body’s ability to supply enough energy to live and to thrive. For mito patients, it’s more than just being tired. It’s never having adequate fuel to operate necessary functions of our body. Justina’s gut stopped working a couple of years ago, a common problem for mito patients, resulting in a tube to help her digest and eliminate food. Mito patients also struggle with muscle weakness, pain, memory loss, erratic blood pressure, vision problems, hearing problems, and debilitating fatigue.” (source)

Despite all that, she was able to ice skate competitively, attend school, and live a relatively normal life. That all changed last year.

“When Justina got the flu in February 2013, her parents acted quickly. They knew that people with mitochondrial disease can decompensate rapidly when physiologically stressed from illness. Their primary mitochondrial disease doctor at Tufts Medical Center encouraged them to go to Boston Children’s Hospital where their gastrointestinal (GI) specialist just relocated. Justina and her parents made the 3-hour drive to Boston with hopes of a short wait so their GI doctor could help stabilize her.” (source)

So we’ve got two caring parents following the guidance of their daughter’s physician – not exactly a red flag if you ask me. How do we get from here to parents believing their child was kidnapped? As it turns out, it’s pretty easy.

Dr. “doesn’t believe” in Mito

During the admission process an ER doc – who had been out of medical school a whopping 7 months – told Justina’s parents that he “didn’t believe” in mitochondrial disease, and instead believed she had somatoform disorder, “a psychiatric condition when a person experiences physical pain for which no known medical explanation can be found.” (source1source 2)

According to this article, “The case highlights a growing concern among those with rare diseases and autoimmune disorders that physical symptoms that cannot be explained will be dismissed by doctors as psychosomatic.” (source)

The Pelletier’s disagreed with BCH’s diagnosis and refused to sign off on the proposed treatment plan, so Boston Children’s Hospital called DCF and accused them of medical abuse. Before the Pelletiers realized what was happening, Justina was a ward of the state.

“While all the security guards were showing up, we actually called 911 and said our daughter had been kidnapped by Boston Children’s Hospital” said Lou Pelletier. (source)

Six weeks before her admission she was ice skating competitively . . .

Image credit: A Miracle for Justina/ Via Facebook

Now, 13 months later, she’s in a wheelchair. (source)


Image credit: A Miracle for Justina/ Via Facebook

Her parents, who are allowed a one hour supervised visit each week, say her condition is deteriorating rapidly. Earlier this week a hearing was held, and the judge decided to place Justina in foster care rather than return her to her family.

“I am dismayed. … It feels like Justina’s treatment team is out to prove the diagnosis at all costs. … The (Boston Children’s Hospital) team has demanded that Justina be removed from the home. … This represents the most severe and intrusive intervention a patient can undergo … for a clinical hunch,” wrote Dr. Korson, the Tufts Chief of Metabolism who was previously Justina’s doctor, in an email. (source)

“I have a right as a U.S. citizen to take my daughter to what doctor I want to, and it’s been taken away,” Linda Pelletier told FOX News.

Not An Isolated Event

I wish I could tell you that this was an isolated event, but it isn’t.


Anna and Alex Nikolayev, the parents of 5-month-old Sammy, “were shocked when police showed up to take away their infant boy after they told a doctor they wanted a second opinion. Caught on camera, the footage shows police entering the California home of Anna and Alex Nikolayev and asking Anna to hand over the baby.” (source)


I’m going to grab your baby and don’t resist and don’t fight me, okay?” one of the officers told Anna. Two months later a judge returned the boy and dismissed the case. 


A woman who would not consent to a “safety plan” for her newborn baby without consulting her lawyer was ejected from the hospital and told she could return every three hours to nurse her baby. (source 1, source 2)


According to Jim Navarro, CPS threatened and intimidated his family into accepting cancer treatments they didn’t want for their son, blocked their access to the most promising therapy available, and then shrugged their shoulders when a child dies from chemotherapy toxicity? He made a documentary about their experience.

Why The Pelletier’s Case Should Matter To Every Parent

“When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.”

― Thomas Jefferson

Mama’s, we now have a situation in which normal, reasonable parents fear taking their children to healthcare providers. On the flipside, they also fear NOT taking them, because if they are ever accused of neglect they won’t have an established record of care.

Do we really want doctors and state organizations have this much power in our lives?

UPDATE 3/1/14: Several foster homes that DCF has tried to place Justina in have refused to take her for fear of protest rallies on their doorstep. DCF is now indicating that they plan to return Justina to her family. It hasn’t happened yet, but several sources are reporting that the public outcry on behalf of the Pelletiers is turning the tide for their case.

UPDATE 6-17-14

After watching helplessly as DCF was awarded permanent custody of their daughter in March, the Pelletiers are celebrating a complete 180 in Justina’s case. After a video plea from Justina went viral this month, a Boston judge has ordered DCF to return Justina to her parents. (source)

After 16 months of struggle, Justina is going home tomorrow. Thank you all for your support!

All photos via A Miracle For Justina On Facebook

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136 Responses to Parents Say Hospital Kidnapped Their Daughter (UPDATE)

  1. Heather Richards via FB says:

    Follow the money trail..

  2. Sherrie Ruiz via FB says:

    It’s all about doctors ego and pride! Tell them they are wrong and they will come back at you! They don’t care about the child, they care about being right. It’s evil.

  3. Angie says:

    Been following this on Glenn Beck…signing petitions, FB post on the hospitals page, donation to the family and spreading the word! Prayers and VOICES, folks!

  4. Michelle Bye Schoenherr via FB says:

    Who is the er dr that decided that mito does not exist…I cannot understand how this turned into this? From the er drs opinion? There are multiple groups fighting to help children fighting mito- I would publicize & exhaust her name until she runs out of patients…until her rights as a physician were stripped from her-forever. Whenever someone googles her name, the bold print reads: “she kidnapped someones sick child, for disagreeing w her.” The drs need to be held accountable and punished for this, or else it will continue. Sick woman.
    Carrie Maier Gervasone- have you read this

  5. Marie says:

    I am a mother of a daughter with a metabolic disorder and the same thing happened to us. We got a lawyer and had a battle but we have our daughter. My heart hurts for this family I wasn’t allowed to see her for 3 weeks which seemed like an eternity. The hardest part now is trusting drs. My daughter still needs interventions and cold knocks her down I can’t imagine the road ahead for this family. This does happen it is real and the parents did nothing wrong. Please pray and no judgements. This is kidnapping!!!! We are blessed my daughter was younger but she still struggles thinking I am going to leave her. I pray for this family. They need a miracle!!!

  6. Crystal Cox McGuire via FB says:

    You can call the Massachusetts legislators, the Department of Children & Families, & even the judge at the numbers given here & express your concern! Please speak out for Justina!

  7. Carrie Maier Gervasone via FB says:

    Michelle Bye Schoenherr, yes unfortunately our mito community has had incidents like this. It makes me sick, this is horrible.

  8. nicole says:

    This hits too close to home. Last year, our 2 year old son broke his femur while camping by simply tripping on the bottom fabric lip of our tent. (This was witnessed by a few onlookers.) He went through surgery and was placed in a spica cast (a cast from his arm pits down both legs with a small area to fit in a diaper) for the summer. He suffered a lot. It was so hard and SO sad for him. We finally got the cast off and we had to relearn how to walk due to muscle atrophy. Two days after learning to walk little one burned the bottoms of his baby skin feet (the callouses of his already 2 year old soft feet had all worn off from being in the cast) feet at a birthday party (also witnessed by many people) on the bottom of a hot empty sandbox baking in the California August sun. He didn’t have the sense or strength to hop out when it was hot, or even scream out. He just stepped into it and froze. The scream came after. I swooped him up and looked. His feet were already bubbled and blistered and peeling. We went into the bathtub with all clothes on and called 911. I was DEVASTATED. Back to the ER we went to take care of him. I was in tears. We were soaking wet from the bathtub. We told them everything and did everything they asked. We left, broken for our little boy. We followed up with our pediatrician on Monday. Two days later a nurse called and was angry that I didn’t take him to a burn center. We were NOT told to take him to a burn center. We were told to follow up with ped on Monday, as we did where he was reassessed and we got medication and learned to change bandages. The next week there was a knock on my door in the middle of the day. “Hi, we are here to talk to you about allegations of neglect and abuse of your children.” What?! All I have done was take care of this sweet boy with my whole heart for months. changing bandages, sponge baths, sleeping in our bed to make sure I could turn him at night so he wouldn’t get achy, holding him over the potty, suppositories each day for constipation, changing his cast dressing (spica casts can get dirty!) taking him to doctors appointments, carrying him everywhere (also tricky in a spica) rubbing oils on him during the day to calm him and lift his spirit, letting him know I loved him, and so much more. Neglect?! What??? Me??? It felt like a movie. I knew what to do because I’ve seen the movies and TV shows. I let them in. I offered them a tea. My house was a total mess (I was still on burnout from the past events of the summer and week, my husband had been working a lot of late nights, and on top of that I have 4 young kids and two of them are twin 2 year olds, one of them is at this point needing A LOT of attention.) I told them my story. I had NOTHING to hide. It became increasingly clear I was guilty in their minds already. They were going to take my kids in another room to question them, I said “no. I don’t know you.” I don’t think they particularly liked that. They talked to them on the sofa while they asked me for phone numbers of doctors and physical therapists and the orthopedic surgeon. I gave them all. It would only help them see how much I loved and protected my kids, right? My doctors all knew me well and I was always responsible and took very good care of my kids. I love them more than ANYTHING and would protect them from ANYONE who would hurt them. They asked my kids questions that made them feel insecure and confused. The questions were worded in a way so as to get a certain answer. After they left I was reeling in my head. My kids were very upset. What just happened. I was told to wait while they looked into it. My doctor called me the next day and told me she had received a call and told me “they won’t bother you again” she was by our side the whole summer for everything and has known my kids since birth. Well they did. I got repeated phone calls from people working with social services questioning me about private matters. I started to feel uncomfortable and feel a sense of unsafety for my kids so I looked online to research. OH MY GOODNESS. I didn’t like what I read. The stories did NOT stack up in my favor. I contacted a lawyer/friend who works in these types of situations and he took my situation very seriously. So seriously that I started to worry more. Other friends of mine had told me not to worry and had the same perspective as me “you have nothing to hide”, “you are OBVIOUSLY a great mom.” I have learned that this isn’t how they system works. It is unfortunately a very broken system that is meant for good but often causes a lot of harm to families and individual kids. You are guilty. Until and if they decide you aren’t. At the lawyers advise, we started to build our case. Seeing psychiatrists and doctors and asking professionals to write testimonials about their experience and professional opinions about the health and safety of our kids. We stayed away from home to avoid a confrontation. Our kids were scared. We were scared (but tried not to let on). It took weeks before we got the call that things looked ok and we were clear. It is still on file. All of it. It won’t go away. I believe that if we didn’t respond in such a proactive way (getting professional reports and evaluations and sending them via certified mail) that things would’ve gone differently.

    This was one of the scariest situations I have EVER been in. I knew that we had nothing to hide, but THE STAKES ARE TOO HIGH when it comes to a child being taken away EVEN if they will be returned days or weeks later. I was not going to let that happen. Even if it was a small chance. That is why we were so proactive despite people’s advice that everything would be ok. Here is my advice to other parents. Keep these tips in the back of your head (or better yet, printed out somewhere in your desk to access if you ever need it)

    *You do not have to (and shouldn’t) let ANYONE into your home without a warrant. You waive your rights by doing this and they can begin to build a case against you by ANYTHING they see, hear or perceive. Things will be perceived a certain way, or can even be twisted in a report to paint the picture that the social worker wants to.

    *Not letting them in will NOT make you look more guilty. You are already perceived as guilty.

    *Be respectful, not rude. They aren’t necessarily the “bad guys”. But the system IS broken.

    *Don’t sign anything.

    *Seek out a lawyer and in the meantime start to build a case for yourself. We found that they don’t care much for witness accounts, but that a private professional opinion can carry weight. We sought out our hospital staff, pediatrician, orthopedic surgeon, and a private doctorate in psychology for an evaluation and report.

    *Teach your kids that they DO NOT have to talk to anyone at school even if the staff at school says they need to answer questions. They have a right to say NO and to call you.

    *There are forms you can fill out online to legally protect your kids from questioning at school to further cover your bases. This way the school is liable to contributing towards subjecting your child to questioning.

    *Be proactive in documenting the events and keeping copies of all reports. This file is closed, but permanent, and if something ever comes up again (like another trip to the ER- which its bound to happen at some point with crazy active kids!) you want things to be VERY clear that it was an UNFOUNDED investigation and that your children are not being abused or neglected.

  9. Should You Do Well-Child Visits? The Crunchy Mama’s Dilemma | The MommypotamusThe Mommypotamus | says:

    […] medicine, defensive . . . parenting? Yep. Earlier this week I wrote about the parents who say Boston Children’s Hospital kidnapped their daughter. With similar stories surfacing all around the country, parents are taking proactive measures to […]

  10. Brianne says:

    This fear of doctors writing off symptoms really hits home for me. I have friends and family who can’t understand why I question everything doctors tell me, especially friends with advanced degrees in medical research and the like. But as someone with auto-immune diseases, I spent 2 years with doctors telling me it was all in my head and one even going so far as to give me a placebo (he didn’t change his stance on my problems being psychosomatic, though, even when my symptoms continued on, what I later found out, was a placebo). Members of the medical community should be a bit better about policing their own because those bad experiences have turned me off of doctors. I can’t trust them, I simply can’t. Being told for years that you don’t know your own body and that you are going so crazy it’s causing physical symptoms is so disempowering. It is no wonder that others, like me, who go through these experiences are flocking away from Western Medicine in droves. It has it’s benefits, but it is also it’s own worst nightmare.

  11. Amanda says:

    I find it interesting that the very facility that got them in this situation was requesting get return. This alone should have given them a clue. But I do know this from my own experience with CPS, they will do interviews and sit on open causes for a few months so they don’t have to do anything and then the time limit is up so they close the case. Less work for them that way. My step son was ina house full of people manufacturing and taking drugs. His mom popped positive while pregnant and custody was removed from her without anyone ever calling us to have us come get him. He suffered the most horrible diaper rashes (skin peeling off) and live crawling all over his head from 6 months on and they wouldn’t do anything to help us. He was deaf at a year because of the cigarette smoking in the house that caused many missed ear infections and scar tissue to his ear drums. When I took him to the END to get tubes placed she canceled his surgery appointment and I had to start over.
    I wonder if they get up one day and just pick a family to destroy because some just don’t give a crap when there is obvious neglect. To add to it, these situations will only become more prevalent Thanks to Obama care. There will come a point when you don’t get the luxury of a second opinion and if you refuse they will take legal action. As a health care professional I see this everyday.

  12. d says:

    Our son was accidentally burned in December of last year. We went to two hospitals for treatment. While at HCA owned doctors hospital of Augusta Georgia we refused a tetanus vaccine for our son. Long story short, a pediatrician by the name of Richard cartie , MD. Called CP’s and somehow convinced a corrupt juvenile judge by the name of lisa coogle rambo to court order the seizure of our son and have him force vaccinated.
    The court order indicated that our refusal of the tetanus vaccine put our son’s life, possibly, in danger. Said assertion is 100% without scientific merit in this instant matter.
    After CPS kidnapped our son at gunpoint he was neglected resulting in an injury to his wrist. Son was returned to us one day later. We had a police report made, have filed criminal complaints against all immediately involved, and are in the midst of a title 42 section 1983 federal civil action against the hospital, doctor, nurses, state actors, the so called juvenile judge, and two of her toady attorneys. A link to our first civil complaint:

    • nic says:

      Why would you refuse a tetanus shot? Sorry but that does sound negligent as burns can lead to tetanus infection and young children and elderly persons have weaker immune systems. I would have called a judge too.

      • d says:

        We never refused a tetanus shot. We refused a tetanus vaccine. A tetanus vaccine 1. confers no benefit AFTER potential exposure 2. is not and can not be a treatment and 3. is forbidden by the vaccine manufacturer to be administered if there is strong suspicion of tetanus infection. Pediatrician Richard Cartie and a senior nurse by the name of Donna Masters (employed at the Doctors Hospital of Augusta Georgia) fabricated multiple stories about us in order to mislead CPS, juvenile prosecuting attorneys, and a juvenile judge in order to punish us for refusing to provide informed consent for the tetanus vaccine. Again the tetanus vaccine is not and can not be an emergency treatment…ever. However, TIG is an emergency treatment for suspected tetanus exposure. We never were offered nor did we refuse the TIG. This was all about this pediatrician and his employer getting medicaid money (all kids get medicaid when they are seized by the State). We are self-pay and flat out refused to apply for medicaid so Dr. Richard Cartie simply had the State steal our son after which time Cartie was the first to bill Medicaid. This hospital is well known for it insurance frauds.

  13. Some Doctors Don’t Believe In This Disease Yet It Predisposes Many Diseases | Collective-Evolution says:

    […] acknowledged as having a physical cause, and are often accused of making things up or having a somatoform disorder, “a psychiatric condition when a person experiences physical pain for which no known medical […]

  14. Some Doctors Don’t Believe In This Disease Yet It Predisposes Many DiseasesThe Daily News Source | The Daily News Source says:

    […] acknowledged as having a physical cause, and are often accused of making things up or having a somatoform disorder, “a psychiatric condition when a person experiences physical pain for which no known medical […]

  15. Some Doctors Don’t Believe In This Disease Yet It Predisposes Many DiseasesNot Exactly The News | Not Exactly The News says:

    […] acknowledged as having a physical cause, and are often accused of making things up or having a somatoform disorder, “a psychiatric condition when a person experiences physical pain for which no known medical […]

  16. The Many Mitochondrial Diseases | Mito Madness says:

    […] acknowledged as having a physical cause, and are often accused of making things up or having a somatoform disorder, “a psychiatric condition when a person experiences physical pain for which no known medical […]

  17. Mark Pursel says:

    I am a 21 year police veteran and current police detective that has actively investigated hundreds of child abuse cases. I am also a victim of DCFS corruption. I offer the following advice: Do not ever speak to DCFS…When they come to your home, step outside and close the door behind you…Collect their business card and listen to the allegation against you…Then exert your right to reman silent and do so…Do not answer ANY questions. Do not allow them into your home. Do not allow them to see or interview your children. Do not sign anything. Do not provide them with ANY information about your children or family. If you have time, record the at the door encounter. If your children are old enough, teach them how to exercise their right to remain silent; children should exercise their right to remain silent if interviewed at school or if DCFS comes back to your home with an investigative warrant (school interviews can be avoided by home schooling your children). Any investigative warrant obtained solely on an uncorroborated anonymous allegation to the DCFS hotline is illegal; you should seek an attorney to file a federal civil rights violation lawsuit under 42 USC 1983 if DCFS serves an illegal warrant on your home.

  18. TM says:

    Don’t cloud a legitimate tragedy with psuedoscience. Please and thank you.

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