A Texas family is together again after Child Protective Services dismissed its case against the household – but there could be long-lasting ramifications.
CPS took four-year-old Drake Pardo from his mother (Ashley) and father (Drake) in June. Attorneys at Texas Home School Coalition got involved and recently helped get Drake returned.
"He was removed because a doctor from Children's Medical Center in Dallas sent an affidavit to CPS saying she was concerned that a [feeding tube] procedure that the family was considering might be unnecessary and would therefore be medical abuse," says Jeremy Newman, public policy director at Texas Home School Coalition.
According to Newman, that procedure was recommended to the family by doctors at Children's Medical Center; and the doctor who reported this to CPS is a child abuse pediatrician who was contacted by a different doctor inside the hospital who Newman says was fired by the family because "he refused to visit Drake while he was in care."
"When the family asked them for a copy of the allegations, they refused – which is illegal," Newman continues. "You're required to tell them the allegations on first contact, and after the family's attorney told CPS 'We're not talking to you until you tell us the allegations' everything went silent – and then about two weeks later, CPS showed up and removed the child and claimed it was an emergency."
Today, the family may be together again, but Newman says the emotional damage could last years if not a lifetime.
"People kind of walk into this sometimes thinking Okay, if the child was sent home, everything is good," he suggests. "Well, no, that's a traumatic event to have been removed from your home for five months, and that's something they might take their entire life to get over."
Newman warns this could happen to anyone.
"You don't have to be guilty to be targeted, and the problem is that the system right now doesn't have the checks and balances it needs to ensure that a family who is innocent comes out correct on the other side," he says.
"This took $120,000 and an entire state coming up to defend this family in order for them to survive the system – but what about all the families who don't have $120,000 raised from all over the world raised from all over the world to defend them?" Newman continues. "You don't hear from those families, and presumably they get eaten by the system. So even though CPS does a lot of good things, this is a recurring problem and we have to realize that if we don't fix it, it will continue to happen to people."
More details about the Pardo case