If CPS Starts Taking Children Away From Parents Who Make Unpopular Choices, Then We’re All Screwed

bellinghamA Washington couple has had their three children, including their newborn twins, taken away from them by CPS. The couple says that it is because of their decisions to have a home birth and to rely on “natural remedies” for their children instead of medical treatment. I say that these people are quite possibly wackadoos, but that’s no reason to take their kids away.

Erica Carey and her partner Cleave Rengo do life a little differently than many of us do. For example, the decided to get married within hours of meeting each other, and when they got married they didn’t have a ceremony or even a license. Instead, Rengo told King 5 news, “We just prayed and invited God to bless our relationship so we’d have a family built on a firm foundation.”

Sure. Fine.

Erica soon became pregnant and delivered their oldest son in a hospital. She became pregnant again very quickly, and this time the pair decided they would have an unassisted home birth. Not a choice I would make, but then this isn’t about me, right? So, fine.

But then, in order to: “preserve the sanctity of her womb,” Carey and Rengo also decided not to have any ultrasounds. That’s why it wasn’t until after one baby was delivered that they realized that Erica was actually pregnant with twins. They never sought medical attention after the birth, but from everything I’ve read Erica recovered just fine and all of her three children under the age of one (mercy) were also doing well. I see a little bit of what I would call risky/nutso behavior here, but still nothing that warrants a visit from CPS.

Apparently, someone disagreed and called the paramedics to report the birth. When the paramedics arrived, they suggested that the couple take the twins to the hospital for a check up. Carey and Rengo said no, because they didn’t want their newborns surrounded by sick people. Fine. Again, not something I agree with, but whatever. It would seem to me that if the paramedics were there and saw that the children were in good health, then that should be a choice the parents could make. Right?

Wrong. CPS came over the next day. I’d like to assume that this was because the paramedics believed the children were at risk in some way, but for all we know it could just be that they decided that “choices I would never make” meant “time for CPS.” During that first visit, CPS (who has been unable to present their side of the case due to confidentiality laws) saw that the older son had eczema, which the couple was treating with natural remedies. CPS asked them to use a steroid cream to treat the eczema, and the couple said no. There were several more visits after that, and finally on November 6th CPS removed all three children from the home.

That must have one hell of a case of eczema. And truthfully, it could have been — if their son was scratching his face till it bled and then those cuts were getting infected and it was clear that coconut oil was not going to do the job, then I can see CPS’s side of it. It also sounds like Rengo and Carey were, let’s say, “inflexible.” From Info Wars:

”They wanted the authority in my household. I told them, ”˜I’m a Christian and God gave me the authority in my household’,” Rengo said.

Yeesh. Then again, if someone came into my house and told me how to raise my kids, I’d say something similar (but without the God stuff). Another wrinkle in the story is the fact that police had been called to the home for domestic issues (the exact nature of those issues has not been revealed) multiple times before their children were born, but no arrests were ever made. So who the hell knows what was going on in that house. But that wasn’t the reason CPS was called and that doesn’t seem to be part of the current case. As reported by King 5 regarding the couple’s petition to regain custody, which was filed on Tuesday:

…the petition claims no evidence of “clear and present danger,” rather that CPS is trying to impose their standards of “proper parenting.”

It’s also important to note here that their oldest son, whose first birthday they have now missed, has developed pneumonia while in state care.

I am someone who believes that there are two sides to every story, and that while sometimes those second sides are bullshit, in general you can’t make a judgment about side one without hearing side two. And given that CPS has said in statements that they do not remove children from homes because of home births, that’s clearly not the issue. If the issue is that Carey and Rengo wanted to parent in their way and the children were not in danger, then removing the children from the home was an unconscionable decision. I know a lot of weirdos who make some bizarre choices, but as long as they aren’t hurting themselves or anyone else than that is their business. If we’re going to start taking kids from parents because we disagree with their parenting choices, then we’re all losing our babies.

If, however, (and we may never know) this was a case where parents were putting a lifestyle choice over the health of their children, then all bets are off. For now, Carey and Rengo are fighting for custody. Their hearing has been continued till Friday, December 5th.

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