Terre Haute, IN - In cases of abuse or neglect, the job of the Department of Child Services is to make sure kids are safe. But a Terre Haute mother and father believe the department may be too protective, after they were accused of abusing their children. They say they have medical proof that they did not knowingly cause harm to their sons.
Ally Allen and her partner John only see their children for hours at a time. That's because CPS (Child Protective Services) has accused these parents of abuse. The charges date back to when their oldest son had a medical emergency at just four months old.
"He called me hysterical and said Jackson has stopped breathing, you need to get to the hospital," said Allen.
While at the hospital, a representative from CPS arrived to speak to Ally and John. They were told it was just protocol. But what doctors saw on baby Jackson's ex-rays changed everything.
"The radiologist came into the room, he said we found 4 old fractures. I said there is no way," said Allen.
They also found a new fracture that was located on a rib. It was enough for CPS to intervene, leaving Ally and John scared and confused.
"I understand them getting involved at that point. The frustration came in that they never tried to find an answer," said Allen.
Ally and John were accused of child abuse and Jackson was placed into foster care. James Whide is with the Department of Child Services. He would not answer questions about Ally and John's case, but says most of the time they rely heavily on the opinion and diagnosis of hospitals.
"In Indiana we are blessed to have a great children's hospital with great child abuse and neglect experts. That's what they specialize in," said Whide.
Whide says many people don't realize or understand they can't remove a child without the approval of a judge. It works as a checks and balance system. But in the state of Indiana he says they are a bit more conservative than other states. "We err on no we think that child isn't safe there and we need to intervene, and again we have to present that to the court."
Ally believes that decision by DCS to be cautious isn't fair to the parents. "We were immediately accused of child abuse, there was no you're innocent until proven guilty. We have been guilty until we've proved ourselves innocent."
Ally and John's life was turned upside down when they took away their first child, but the birth of their second son brought happiness back into their life. Only to have that vanish once again.
"They came in to take Jamison down for a circumcision and that's when they came in and said we're ceasing your child," said Allen.
Whide says in many cases it's not uncommon for them to get involved in the life of a second child. "There would probably be some concerns because we are trying to get things right here and to bring another child that again can't defend themselves, again they're newborns they're defenseless. That would raise some concerns about the safety of that child."
Ally and John battle for answers lead them to a radiologist in Springfield, Illinois by the name of Dr. David Ayoub. He has helped families all over the country that believe they have been wrongly accused of child abuse. He finds in most cases those parents are right, and it's all because of a disease called rickets.
"Rickets is simply the inability to normal mineralize or harden bones," said Ayoub.
Dr. Ayoub says that's the cause of many fractures in these cases, and many times parents aren't even aware. He says the issue of misdiagnosis is more than just misreading an x-ray or test results. "This isn't a scientific issue. The science is there and has been for a long time. This is a political issue. In medicine like many other areas of life there is a lot of politics. With CPS and courts, with child abuse pediatrics. They're industries and they make a living in this area. And they're the ones that are responsible for diagnosing real abuse and over diagnosing medical conditions as abuse."
Ally and John had Jackson tested and sure enough he was diagnosed with rickets. Their battle to get Jackson and Jamison back, continues three years after Jackson was first taken from their home. They believe they're finally getting close to gaining custody back. Until that happens, they must live with restricted visits.