Parents Say They Lost Custody of 3 Kids Over Home Birth & Religion (VIDEO)

parents lose custory after home birth

I just covered a story yesterday about a woman who kept her husband’s corpse in their bedroom for nearly six months because she believed her prayers would resurrect him, and today brings the heartbreaking account of a couple who lost custody of their children over their religious convictions. Child Protective Services has removed newborn twin babies and a 10-month-old son from the home of Erica May Carey and Cleave Rengo of Bellingham, Washington — because of their home birth and devout Christian beliefs.

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Carey and Rengo aren’t married, but they’ve asked God to witness their vows:

We just prayed and invited God to bless our relationship so we'd have a family built on a firm foundation.

They only knew each other for hours before they decided to commit their lives to one another, and they conceived their first son shortly thereafter. Within days after his birth, Carey was pregnant again, and this time they decided to have an unassisted home birth. According to Carey:

I've done a lot of research about other women who have done it and they said the spiritual experience was so much more wholesome. It was just us. We wanted to preserve that sanctity and sacredness in our birth.

They never had an ultrasound, because they wanted to “preserve the sacred space of her womb.” During her birth, right after her second son was born, Cleave noticed Carey had been carrying twins all along:

I said, 'Erica look!' and she looked at her belly. There was an outline of a small baby in her belly. That's when I discovered we were having twins.

Whoa. This is ... well, this is all very different to me. The speed of their relationship and their conceptions, their decision to forgo prenatal care. It’s not at ALL the choices I would make, and I don’t share their faith, but who am I to judge?

Except it does seem highly unusual not to have medical care, either during her pregnancy or during the birth. An unassisted home birth with twins seems like a very risky endeavor.

Still, I mostly feel like this is their business — but it apparently became the state’s business when someone reported the birth. Paramedics showed up at their house, and when they suggested bringing the babies to the hospital for a quick checkup, the couple refused, stating they didn’t want to expose the twins to other patients fighting diseases.

The next day, CPS showed up. Several visits ensued, and officers noticed the 10-month-old had eczema, which the couple says they were treating with natural remedies like probiotics and coconut oil. They claim CPS asked them to switch to steroid creams, and the couple said no.

Carey:

It's a very harsh treatment and can have very negative side effects. It can cause damage to bones, the muscular system, and liver.

Rengo:

They wanted the authority in my household. I told them, 'I'm a Christian and God gave me the authority in my household.'

That’s when CPS took all three children. The couple has filed a petition calling the seizure "unlawful, unconscionable, and inexcusable." Despite prior calls to the home about domestic issues, the petition says there was no evidence of the children being in danger, and that now the 10-month-old has pneumonia while being held in state custody.

They missed their son's first birthday last week, and they see their children only once a week. Carey says,

Every time it's like torment to my soul when they pull them away from my breasts. Those are my babies. They're our children. They have no right to them.

DSHS has stated,

Due to confidentiality, we cannot discuss details, except to say that a court determined a child's safety required removal from the home. No policy of Children's Administration would allow a child to be taken due to a home birth. A home birth is not in any way a child safety risk factor in the view of Children's Administration.

I feel for this couple. I don’t really agree with what they did, but I don’t think they deserved to lose their kids. There are so many more children who are in legitimate danger, and while these parents seem unusual in their lifestyle, they don’t come across as abusive. I hope they relax a little on their refusal to provide the kids with medical care, and that DSHS prioritizes creating a safety plan ASAP so the babies can come home.

Here’s a video clip on the story:

Where do you stand on this issue? Do you think CPS had the right to remove the babies?


Image via King5

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