Christian and Katie Maple are embroiled in an unexpected and unsettling custody battle with Child Protective Services (CPS) after reportedly rejecting an ADHD diagnosis of their son made by his school.
After refusing to give their son medical treatment, which they deemed excessive and unnecessary, the Ohio parents have lost custody of their 7-year-old, Camden.
"They have ordered my husband and I to undergo a drug and alcohol screening, random drug tests, and a mental health evaluation,” Katie told Health Impact News. “We have completed the evaluations. Our evaluator was thoroughly confused as to why we were even in her office and could not believe the situation that had brought us there. We have zero substance abuse issues. We do not do drugs and have never been accused of such. We have zero mental health issues. Why would they order us to do this?"
The incident that was the catalyst for the Maples losing their son took place in February. The couple was notified by Bowman Primary School that Camden had caused a "disruption" during class, allegedly saying that he wished to be "erased" from this earth.
According to the Maples, when the school counselor asked how Camden would erase himself, the little boy said that he would "stab himself in the eye."
After Christian picked up his son from school, they shared a lengthy discussion in which he says Camden admitted that he had only made that comment in order to see what the counselor's reaction would be.
"The school thought we should have taken him to the hospital emergency room for a mental health evaluation," said Katie. "But upon assessing the situation and speaking to him at home, it was clear to us that he posed no threat to himself and just said it to get a rise out of the counselor. He has never said anything about harming himself prior to this incident or after.”
The school insisted upon an emergency mental health evaluation and continued to press for a visit to the hospital, but the parents stood their ground. As far as Christian and Katie were concerned, the issue had been unpleasantly resolved.
Not for Bowman Primary School, however. They apparently felt Camden was not receiving the care he needed and so they contacted CPS. This was not the first time they had done so, although the Maples would not find this out until later. Katie gave the following statement to Health Impact News, elaborating on the complicated relationship the parents already had with the school:
"My stepson Camden is a very energetic and intelligent 7-year-old. He tested a full grade level above where he should be! Camden gets very good grades, but he gets bored easily in class and acts out on occasion, like children sometimes do. The school thinks he is ADHD, we as parents disagree. We believe that it stems mostly from boredom and not being challenged in the classroom. The school has tried on several occasions to get us to have him diagnosed, so that he can be medicated. We as parents do not have the problems the school claims to have with him, at home. We know how to deal with a rambunctious 7 year old, but the school is content with making him believe that he is a bad child, we disagree.
The school did not like us going against their recommendations and proceeded to call children services 4 times over the course of the past year for false allegations ranging from physical abuse, neglect and no food in the house. We have no idea where these allegations came from, as we do not abuse our children and we have plenty of food. They were obviously completely made up. CPS never contacted us about these phone calls because they themselves admit that the calls were unsubstantiated."
CPS called the Maple residence after receiving the school's report of neglect and requested a home visit to ensure Camden was adequately taken care of. Christian reminded them of his Fourth Amendment rights, which ensure that one is free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and denied them entry into his family's home. About two weeks later, he received another call requesting his attendance at an "Emergency Shelter Care" hearing in court.
In an email, Todd Yohey, the superintendent of schools in Lebanon City School District, stated the following about the case:
"Confidentiality laws designed to protect students prohibit me from discussing what I know about this case. However, I can tell you that, in Ohio, all school employees are mandated reporters. By law, all school employees are required to report any suspicion or evidence of child endangering and/or abuse to Child Protective Services (CPS). Schools do not conduct an investigation. That is a decision and responsibility of CPS. Schools do not decide the outcome of an investigation. Those are decisions made by CPS based on the results of their investigation. While school employees may be questioned as part of a CPS investigation, schools are not consulted on the outcome or any actions that arise from such."
It was that afternoon, at the hearing, that the Maples discovered that the school had called CPS on other occasions during the past year with allegations that were "obviously completely made up," according to Katie. Nevertheless, the social worker involved in the case reportedly submitted these unsubstantiated phone calls as evidence for the child's removal from his home.
Reportedly, the court granted CPS permission to take Camden into their custody on the basis that both the school and social worker had made a mental health diagnosis that Christian and Katie continued to disregard.
To add to the trauma, eight armed police officers showed up at the Maple family home later that day to take Camden to a relative's house. His parents saw no other choice but to comply and were forced to give their son up until the next series of hearings. They have an adjudication hearing, also known as a fact-finding hearing, scheduled for April 20.
The Maple's story is not an isolated incident. Judging by the cases listed on Health Impact News' site, Medical Kidnap, many other families claim to have gone through similar situations because the parents disagreed with a physical or mental health assessment of their child. Certainly there are instances in which a parent's denial puts the child's life at serious risk, however, it would be a mistake to rule out the possibility that some wrongfully lose their children.
"Most of the public is largely unaware of these medical kidnappings simply because the parents are almost always threatened by the family court system in their state from speaking out, usually via an illegal gag order," Medical Kidnap's About page states. "When we hear these stories for the first time, our natural reaction is 'there must be another side to the story.'"
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters