In another galaxy… Far, far away… Oh, wait.

October 17th, 2007 by MamaBear

Imagine this: You’ve just had a baby. It was a wonderful homebirth, very peaceful. Breastfeeding was established the way it should be, without interference. You were never needlessly separated from your baby. About five weeks go by, and you get a phone call from a government worker who looks over your child’s birth certificate and tells you you forgot to get your baby’s blood drawn for metabolic testing. “Oh that,” you say, “I didn’t forget. I have no plans to get my baby’s blood drawn. Thanks anyway. Good-bye.” For that, guess what happens? Child Protective Services shows up at your door and takes your baby away.

O-kaaaay. (NOT.)

So your baby is kidnapped from you (but it’s legal ’cause the government is doing it) and taken to some stranger’s house, a foster home. In order to make sure your baby is still being breastfed, you visit the foster home and breastfeed your baby — not the government’s baby and not the foster home’s baby, but YOUR baby — the one you gestated for nine months and then birthed, with much pain, from your body. And then the judge in charge of hearing your case finds out that you are spending time with your baby and forbids you from visiting YOUR baby for the purposes of breastfeeding because, as every ignoramus knows (and I mean “ignoramus” literally), formula is “just as good.” And that silly breastfeeding thing, eh, that’s not so important to a baby’s health and emotional well-being, right? Not to mention, you must not love your baby if you don’t make him bleed for an arbitrary test imposed by the government, so you should be punished and not have any right to see him. …WTF?

Can anybody else see what’s wrong with this picture?

This actually happened to Nebraska resident Mary Anaya and her family. The test in question, a test considered invaluable by medical and government authorities for determining whether or not a child is born with rare metabolic disorders like sickle cell anemia and phenylketonuria, required a blood draw. The Anayas rejected the test because they consider blood to be sacred. Most other states allow parents to reject the testing for personal preference or religious reasons, but Nebraska does not.

Whatever the Anayas’ reasons for not wanting their child to get blood drawn (and regardless of my own personal opinion on getting this test done), it is unconscionable for the government, for any institution, to step in and remove a child from a family’s home when it is clear it is more harmful to the child to be removed than it is to just let him live with his family. Furthermore, okay, so after baby was already removed from his rightful home and forced to have his blood drawn anyway (which was presumably the whole point of taking him into state custody in the first place)…why, then, was the judge so callous about not letting the mother feed her own child??? I wonder how so many people in the Nebraska Supreme Court could have screwed this one up so badly. It’s a no-brainer, but I guess this means these people have no brains? Or no heart? I would imagine there have got to be far worse child abuse cases in the state of Nebraska for them to waste so many precious resources on this one, a case where it’s clear no abuse has taken place.

You know what would solve this? A provision in Nebraska’s law that would allow parents to sign an agreement with the government freeing the state of Nebraska from any legal liability arising from the development of an undiagnosed metabolic disorder, if the parents wish to forgo the screening. Problem solved. The end. Why can’t Nebraska state law just do that? Or is the prospect of tormenting future breastfeeding moms and their families way more satisfying than finding a real solution? Assholes.

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17 Responses to “In another galaxy… Far, far away… Oh, wait.”

  1. JMac Says:

    Isn’t the state Nebraska and not Nevada?

  2. MaryJaneLouise Says:

    He Mamabear, I think this is is Nebraska, not Nevada.

  3. MamaBear Says:

    JMac and MaryJaneLouise,

    Thanks! I’m working on editing that right now…

  4. MamaBear Says:

    Yet another reason why I always tell my readers to do their own research, and not take my word — or anyone else’s — for anything! :)

  5. Lesley Says:

    Oh my god. That’s HORRIBLE. My heart aches for that baby and mama.

  6. Shannon @ some fine taters Says:

    Sick. Sick. Sick.

    To tear a little baby away from his family like that.

    Who committed the crime here?

  7. MamaBear Says:

    Lesley,

    I felt the same way after reading the story. Poor mom, poor baby, poor family… Thankfully, she’s been reunited with her baby, but the baby never should have been taken away from her in the first place.

  8. MamaBear Says:

    Shannon,

    Good question.

  9. Chloe Says:

    What a ridiculous waste of tax money! I’m glad the Anaya family had been reunited with their baby. It’s pretty stupid that the state went ahead with the testing before the family had a chance to appeal the ruling. I hope they sue and win.

    I guess this is a reminder to parents who have somewhat “alternative” ideas about childrearing and medical interventions. Legally ignorance of the law is no excuse, so we need to research the laws in our jurisdiction. Then it’s our choice to follow the status quo, work with our lawmakers to change the law or provide exemptions, or relocate to a state or county that is more tolerant of religious and philosophical freedom.

  10. MamaBear Says:

    Chloe,

    Unfortunately those ARE our only options. Glad you spelled them out, because that’s what’s left to us. Funny that before a person even gives birth, most of us are not aware of metabolic testing at all (for the most part), but in the hospital, if you say, “What are you doing to my child?” they act like it’s not your child at all and tell you, “It’s required by law that we do blah blah blah…” How are you as a new parent supposed to know THOSE laws??? Or even know that you’re supposed to know, before you have a kid? Nobody tells you beforehand! You almost have to already be a health professional in order to know… It’s almost like we’re kept ignorant of important things like this, but then at the moment when we’re most vulnerable, the law steps right in and says, “You must do this or you’ll be in violation of The Law.” WTF?

    And Heaven help us if we actually QUESTION The Law, once we’re finally informed about what it IS… They have been so used to being in control that anyone who has the temerity to say, “No, thanks,” is shot down with such overkill that it’s no wonder everyone is so apathetic about fighting for their rights anymore! People are afraid to have opinions ’cause they’re not sure what they’re “supposed” to be thinking! LOL!

    Thanks for commenting. I’ve been meaning to get that off my chest. :)

  11. MomofMany Says:

    I hope none of you are under the illusion that the press reported things correctly. They keep hounding us to say more about our religious beliefs whereas we wanted to keep this an issue of conscience. We do not have any bizarre doctrine about blood. Everyone knows blood loss is a bad thing. We are confident our child does not have any rare disease and do not believe the state should take the blood of an infant-causing a definite trauma-just in the very unlikely situation that he may have a genetic disease.

    Facts:
    Oldest 2 children- not born in Nebraska. Oldest now 20-he went to college at 14, graduated at 17 with 2 degrees-youngest graduate ever of that University. 2nd oldest 17, sophomore at same university on the dean’s list.

    Next 5 children-homebirthed in Nebraska. Received certified letters telling us to take children in for screening.

    Checked into the law and found no enforcement provision.
    Informed by others who had refused that we would be ignored or fined for non-compliance. We were ignored all five times.

    Our 8th child, 6th born in Nebraska was Rosa. When she was 2 months old we received a subpoena to District Court. That had been added to the enforcement provision of the statute. We found a lawyer and fought it. That lawyer wanted us to fight it based on the First Amendment free exercise of religion. The case was only heard by the local district court judge who understood nothing about the case and the Nebraska Supreme Court. The Nebraska Supreme Court stole the case from the appeals court and the US Supreme Court did not hear the case.

    Our 9th child, Justus, was born 2 years ago in Iowa to avoid the situation.

    For 2 legislative sessions, State Senator Synowiecki has proposed exemption legislation. The 2nd time we had high hopes. We had more people testifying in favor of the bill than against, signed testimonies of the trauma the screening had caused other parents, and a petition signed by over 100 people. There were only a couple of testimonies from the state against the bill. However, it was killed in the health and human services committee and never made it to the floor for a vote.

    Here are e-mails for the committee:

    perdman@leg.ne.gov;
    jjohnson@leg.ne.gov;
    astuthman@leg.ne.gov;
    tgay@leg.ne.gov;
    dpankonin@leg.ne.gov
    ghoward@leg.ne.gov;
    thansen@leg.ne.gov;

    Due to various reasons, Joel ended up being born in Nebraska. Believe me, if I had any idea this would have happened, I would have made more of an effort to have him in Iowa.

    Joel was born on September 2. We immediately found a lawyer. On September 19th we received a certified letter telling us about the screening law and giving us until September 21st to test. Then, we received a phone call from Newborn Screening asking if we would test. We replied “no”. She asked if I knew what would happen next. I replied “yes” understanding that we would be subpoenaed into district court as stated in the statute.

    Weeks went by without hearing anything. Then, on the morning of October 11th just after I had gotten Joel up from his morning nap, my doorbell rang. When I answered the door, an armed sheriff’s deputy came barging into my house yelling that he had a court order for Joel Anaya. I was screaming that I had not given him permission to enter my home. He said that he had a court order. I said that I wanted to call my lawyer. He said, “There’s no time.” There were 2 other deputies with guns and clubs guarding my doorways. He heard my children downstairs and ran downstairs where all my young children were. He snatched Joel out of my son’s arms and headed for the door. Joel was fussing and I knew he hadn’t eaten in 3 hours. I begged to be allowed to nurse him. The deputy told me, “There is no time. He will be cared for by professionals.” He ran out the door with my baby leaving me begging to nurse my baby and yelling for my son to call the lawyer. It was a cold day and the CPS people were not there yet to hand the baby over to, so the weather forced him back inside. I was crying and pleading to nurse.

    My husband came home from the store just then. The sheriff deputies blocked him from entering our home.

    I do not have time to elaborate further, but I do want to mention that the social workers invited me along, were quite compassionate, and allowed me to nurse on demand the first day and a half until the juvenile court judge got all bent out of shape about my frequent nursing.

    Hall of Justice
    1701 Farnam Street, 6th Floor
    Attn: Honorable Elizabeth G. Crnkovich
    Omaha, NE 68183
    (402) 444-7121

    My entire family has been needlessly traumatized. I can not begin to tell you about all the ripple effects. For the sake of future generations, please help us to fight this
    horrible injustice.

    There are other awful things such as the terrifying court order that I don’t have time to address now. Our case is dismissed, but we are appealing.

    After 5 and a half awful days, we have Joel back. Praise God.

    However, we have been denied due process. The affidavit to obtain custody falsely claimed Joel was in “immediate danger” and that “every reasonable effort to prevent removal” had been made. No one had even hinted to us that the state could take custody if we refused the test.

    I am afraid we have been the frog in the pan. The heat is applied gradually until
    we find ourselves boiling. Our rights are in serious trouble. Please pray and contact
    people in this post.

  12. Chloe Says:

    According to what I’ve read the family knew about the law, as they’d had some legal trouble when they chose not to vaccinate their 8th child - this baby was #9 - and the mother gave birth in Iowa, possibly to circumvent the Nebraska law. Now if I play devil’s advocate I can see the state having a problem with their decision not to test, and getting a court order telling them to comply or move out of state. But I cannot understand removing an otherwise healthy and well cared for infant from a loving home! Freedom of religion, unlawful search & seizure, how many other constitutional amendments were violated here?

  13. MamaBear Says:

    MomofMany (Mary Anaya),

    I’m so, so sorry for what your family has been put through. Nobody should have to endure that; what the State of Nebraska did is unconscionable.

    And no, I don’t really trust the media to report things accurately. Too often I’ve found (after investigating things for myself, like with the International Breast Milk Project), that the media gets really important details DEAD WRONG.

    I was relieved to hear you finally got your precious baby boy back, and I hope that if you are blessed with any more children in the future, that you don’t get harassed this way again.

  14. scientificsam Says:

    Mary Anya, I am so sorry to hear your story. I can’t believe a society can call themselves civilised when they can take children away from their parents like this. How on earth can they say Joel was in ‘immediate danger’ when you were meeting his every need and simply refusing to have an unnecessary blood test?

    MamaBear’s last paragraph in her original blog post seems so rational to me, why is it that people in power don’t seem to be able to make sensible decisions like this?

    Here in the UK I have been horrified to read of cases of children being taken into care due to suspected child abuse, but then not released to their real parents when the cases were shown to be unsubstantiated - in fact, the real parents are not only denied any contact with their children but not even allowed to refer to their children by name but have to speak of them as ‘Child A’ etc., In most cases the foster parents or adoptive parents probably believe they are doing the right thing.

    here is one example:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=414384&in_page_id=1770

    And now we have a woman who is told that her unborn baby will be taken away from her as soon as she gives birth. The reason? She called social services because of an incident with her ex-boyfriend, drawing herself to their attention because she was frightened of what he might do. And after she was raped as a teenager, she suffered from severe depression and was self-harming. Now they claim she has ‘Munchausens by proxy’, a syndrome which is greatly disputed between medics and has largely been discredited.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/08/26/nbaby126.xml

    www.wardrobehudson.co.uk/askingforachance/Home.htm

    You can bet they won’t get a wetnurse for the baby!

    It is all so worrying. I really hope the state stops bothering you like this, Mary Anaya.

    Sam

  15. MamaBear Says:

    Thank you, Sam, for commenting and sharing your perspective.

  16. MomofMany Says:

    Thanks for the support.

    For those who are interested-here is our lawyer’s website. There are several pages, pictures, interviews with Rush Limbaugh and Scott Voorhees and numerous newspaper articles.

    http://www.nebraskainjurylawreport.com/category/constitutional-rights/

    I hope some of you will e-mail the state senators.

  17. MamaBear Says:

    Mary,

    I read the interview you linked. You know, I gotta say, I normally think Rush Limbaugh is the biggest jackass that ever walked the face of the Earth, but his pragmatism regarding your case (at least what I could gather from what he said in the interview with your lawyer) is remarkable. I’m really glad you have clear support from both sides (because I’m about as liberal/libertarian as they come). It is truly a miscarriage of justice what the state of Nebraska did to you.

    I am not a resident of the state of Nebraska, Mary, so I’m not sure if my complaints will be taken seriously, but I will make an effort to write an email to the above-mentioned representatives on your behalf.

    I really hope this can be resolved for the good of the people.

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