Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tragic: OKDHS takes custody of newborn, pulls life support


A Choice of Life or Death

This is a true story.

My wife has spent many years volunteering in various causes, most of them related to the Pro-Life movement. One of the organizations she volunteers for operates a group home for women in crisis pregnancy situations. This home specifically helps pregnant homeless women get through pregnancy in a stable and safe environment. They are able to have their babies, and given the time and resources to get back on their feet. This includes staying in the home for several months after their baby is born.

Yesterday, a tragedy beyond the comprehension of most parents occurred. One of the women my wife has been helping gave birth to a baby boy last week. He was full term, and was full size, but he had some heart issues. As a result, he needed surgery. After he had his surgery he made it through the weekend. His poor little body was battered by the trauma of such an event, but alive and improving. His mother was hopeful – until the state stepped in.

Previously the mother of this new boy had lost custody of her other child. In Oklahoma domestic violence can be grounds for removal of children, even from the custody of the victim. Since the mother in this case had not regained custody of her two year old – that is due to happen later this summer – someone with the Department of Human Services decided to take custody of the baby while he was in neonatal intensive care. This was done despite the child being in a secured environment both in the hospital and in the group home he where mother and child would recover. By doing so, medical decisions were removed from the mother and given to bureaucrats.

In the afternoon of April 22nd, a worker with DHS decided to intervene, consulted a “judge” and instigated an emergency hearing to decide the fate of this little baby boy. The mother was forced to plead her case in the administrative judges’ chambers, with the hospital on speaker phone. Upon his decision, and over her objections, the baby was taken off of life support, drugs, ventilator, and pacemaker. This began while the mother was away from the hospital, and before she could even hold her child. She arrived back at the hospital shortly before the end. Her baby died at 5:38 pm.

If this story does not rip at your heart, nothing will. This is someone who was relying on private charity, attempting to rebuild her life, and life and death decisions about her child were taken from her by the state. There was no trial. There was no chance of appeal. Our government has taken it upon itself to “protect” the children, even when that means stripping parents of their rights, and making decisions that may kill those very children. In this case, it did.

I don’t know the answer to all of this. I know a tragedy has occurred. I know the state should not have the power to strip parental rights without a jury being involved. I know people are victimized by their government in the name of safety and protection, all the way down to a newborn in the hospital.

I know my heart is heavy for this mother and her children, and I will hold my family close tonight and pray for her.

Steve Dickson is a conservative activist in the Oklahoma City area, and writes a blog at this link.


* UPDATE *

The Director of OKDHS has issued a statement about this incident, which is posted here.

2 comments:

Ed Lake, Director, Oklahoma Department of Human Services said...

Recent outrageous blog posts circulating on social media are falsely and recklessly claiming that the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) removed a baby from life support against the mother's wishes. This is absolutely untrue and is an example of extremist bloggers not bothering to obtain factual information and twisting the misinformation for some political agenda. We have determined, in the interest of public faith and trust, to respond to these absurd claims in a manner that protects the identities of those involved.

The situation in which these blogs are referencing was that of an infant in OKDHS custody who was born with extremely serious physical abnormalities and who had surgery to try to correct the conditions. The child was subsequently placed on life support and doctors did not expect the child to survive. A conference was held with the presiding judge, the district attorney, the child's biological mother and her attorney, the child's foster mother, two physicians treating the child, and an OKDHS supervisor.

The judge and the child's mother both agreed to a "Do Not Resuscitate Order" (DNR) for the child if the action was determined medically necessary. OKDHS remained silent during this conference and made no recommendation, following the agency's DNR policy. The Judge also authorized the physician treating the child to do whatever was medically necessary and in the best interest of the child. The actions of OKDHS employees and hospital staff in this case complied with Oklahoma and federal laws, as well as the judge's decisions and orders. All of these actions were recorded by a court reporter who was present at the hearing in the judge's chambers.

The child's physician later determined the child needed to be taken off life support due to ongoing uncontrolled internal bleeding. The child's biological mother was taken to the hospital, signed the DNR order along with the attending physician, and personally consented to her child being taken off life support. The mother remained with her child until the child passed away.

We were all extremely saddened by this child's death and worked to support the child's mother and foster mother throughout this emotional decision.

The individual who posted the despicable blog should be ashamed of himself.

Jamison Faught said...

Thanks for commenting with your statement. I have posted it here.