Debbie - posted on 07/04/2009 ( 33 moms have responded )
Our medical and legal costs so far have topped $10,000, and could more than double if the court proceedings we are part of have to go to a jury trial before this is over. We have received some support from friends, family, and our church, but even with that aid, we have only been able to pay off about $4000 of the costs.
We would appreciate your prayer and support as we seek out justice for the wrong that has been done to our family and restoration of my husband and child.
Long story long
How did a young Christian couple get into a position like this?
A year and a half ago, my husband made a mistake. Our 2 month-old baby Owen was crying, Adam was upset, and Adam, in frustration, did something that could have done, but did not do, harm to our child. Adam could have hidden this away, kept it his little secret and gone on with life. But he wanted to make sure he didn't, in another misguided moment, make another such mistake.
Adam came to me, and told me what he had done. We cried, we talked, we prayed, and in the end, we decided to go to his counselor and let him know what Adam was struggling with, knowing full well that the counselor would have to report the incident to Social and Rehabilitative Services and our life and parenting would come under scrutiny.
The day Adam told his counselor, the police and a social worker came and took Owen away, returning him the next day after determining he was healthy, happy, and I, as a stay-at-home mom could provide safe care and supervision of him with his father. A safety plan was put into place including additional counseling for Adam, medication changes for his depression and temperament issues, and additional family support, such as respite care. We followed this to the letter. In the coming weeks, we shared what was going on with friends and families and asked for help, prayer, and support. Months later, when the shock of the incident was over and we were able to put aside the safety plan and return to normal life, Adam decided to share with our church family at Ebenfeld Mennonite Brethren about our struggle.
Our summer passed peacefully, Owen grew and thrived, and our lives returned to a happy normal.
In September, when Owen was 11 months old, I went to work as a school bus driver. Owen started at a local daycare, where I dropped him off in the mornings. Adam would pick him up after work, as he finished his day as a welder a couple hours before I finished mine.
One afternoon, after picking Owen up from daycare, Adam was watching Owen and our dog Milkshake playing in our front yard. Owen, who was an early walker, fell on the porch steps and hit his head on the concrete edge of a step. Adam called me on my way home from work, describing the large "goose egg" on Owen's forehead, and immediately took him to the doctor, where I joined him when I got home. Dr. Claassen looked Owen over, did x-rays and a CT scan, but everything looked alright. In the next days we were told to watch for signs of a concussion.
In the next two weeks Owen's health was up and down. One day he'd be walking around, the next he'd be lethargic, the next he threw up, then happy and playing again. In a two week span, he visited the doctor 5 times as a precaution and to check into these symptoms.
SRS was informed of Owen's injury, and as is their job, they investigated and determined that this was an accident, and that we had responded appropriately.
About two weeks after the fall, on Owen's 1st birthday, he threw up after coming home from day care. That night we took him to McDonald's, but he didn't want to eat or play.
Because Owen wasn’t feeling well, I stayed home from work the next day – Wednesday (rather than take Owen to daycare). When Owen woke up in the morning, I noticed he was shaking and had a fever. I called my mom, who didn't seem concerned, but said that my mother's instinct trumped all else. I took Owen to the doctor, who said "I'm not concerned, but watch him for 24 hours and let us know how he's doing tomorrow." The next day, Adam stayed home from work to watch Owen. That afternoon he noticed Owen's right leg was twitching. We called a pediatrician and she sent us on the emergency room, where he began having seizures and was then sent on to a larger hospital in Wichita, an hour away.
The doctors discovered a subdural hematoma, or bleeding, in Owen's brain. Immediately, police were brought in to investigate since subdural hematomas can result from child abuse. As soon as Adam's past was discovered, it was like we were deemed guilty with no chance to prove our innocence. We were told to leave the hospital and we were not allowed to visit our son over the course of his 6 day stay until a court order allowed us to visit with a social worker and be a part of his care.
A doctor whose job is to look for child abuse found, you guessed it, that child abuse could have caused this injury, and despite Owen having no external signs of trauma except for his scar from his fall on the porch steps, our child was deemed a Child in Need of Care and put in SRS custody.
Owen's own physician is preparing to testify on behalf of us in court. He has examined Owen and the medical records and believes the subdural hematoma is consistent with Owen's fall two weeks before his hospitalization.
Owen was taken from us last October and was in foster care until February. At that time, Owen was allowed to return home with me on the condition that Adam move out of the home. Adam has complied with this. He is able to see Owen in the presence of an approved supervisor (other than me), such as Owen’s grandparents, aunt and uncle. Adam spends as much time as he can with Owen, who loves to be and play with his daddy. I hold things together as a single mom, having quit my job to stay-at-home full-time with Owen when he was released from foster care.
Owen is still technically under SRS custody, even though he lives with me, and could even be put up for adoption after 1 year's time if social workers so decide.
On May 20, Adam’s case was presented to a judge in Marion County, Kansas. The judge considered the evidence to be equal so he passed it along for jury trial. This will add months or even years to our current situation. Please keep us in your prayers. Thanks so much for your time!
Mother and Wife