26 February 2014

Good Deed Gone Wrong

Baby Sammy
Sometimes, the best intention turns out to be the worse decision ever. And no one suffers more from the mistake made by incompetent adults than the affected child. Alex and Anna Nikolayev know this and definitely their 6-month old son Sammy witness it as well.

It all started in 24 April 2013 when Alex and Anna took Sammy, to Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento, Calif., with flu-like symptoms. Baby Sammy was born with a heart condition, and they knew he would need surgery eventually.

While he was there, the Nikolayevs witnessed a nurse giving him antibiotics – something doctors later confirmed should not have happened.

Shortly afterward, they were told Sammy needed immediate open-heart surgery. Already questioning the treatment their son was receiving, they decided to seek a second opinion before putting their child through such a risky procedure.

They were told, "You can leave the hospital, but your baby cannot."

The Nikolayevs decided to take Sammy to another hospital, despite the hospital saying they could not do so. Police and Child Protective Services (CPS) agents showed up at the second hospital under the belief that Sammy was in danger. After seeing that the mother was pursuing medical care for her son, they concluded that the child was not in danger.

But that would not be the last the Nikolayevs heard of CPS.

The next day, CPS showed up at the Nikolayev home with five armed police officers. The mother, a German immigrant, was skeptical of government and captured the incident on video.

One officer can be heard saying, "I’m going to grab your baby, and don't resist, and don’t fight me, okay?"

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks said he felt compelled to act, as a father, and as a legislator.

"The footage is frightening for parents everywhere to think that your children might be confiscated should CPS disagree with your parental instincts. It's chilling to think that a government agency can take your child right back to a hospital that you as a parent have lost faith in, but it happened."

Donnelly began demanding answers. In a letter, he asked Sheri Heller, director of California's Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees CPS, to account for how this was allowed to happen.

Heller responded that she couldn't share that information with an assemblyman, unless a judge ordered her to do so. Donnelly responded, "It has become clear that CPS answers to no one, but this abuse of power cannot be tolerated."

"I'm hearing all kinds of stories about children being horribly abused," said Donnelly, "and CPS does not rescue the child from that imminent danger, which is why they have this immense power in the first place."

The mother in the case, Anna Nikolayev, told reporters that since that day, Sammy had a doctor’s appointment and is doing very well.

"He is gaining, weight," she giggled, "he is even getting a little bit chubby!"

But in her case, a hearing has been delayed for 60 days, and she worries.

"The fear is that they might walk in my house and ask questions again to try to prove their case…(to make them) look good."

She said that the worst thing that could happen is that "in 60 days (if) he hasn’t gained weight, they could say, 'oh, she's probably not holding him the right way, not feeding him correctly…'"

She said that she and her husband "always, always worry about that."

Her hope is for quick resolution, but the court has ordered eight more visits, inside and outside of their home, before CPS makes a decision whether or not to continue their investigation of the family.

Orange County CPS spokesperson Ann Broussard said that she had "no comment" on the Baby Sammy Nikolayev case. But she described the scenario whereby CPS says it is entitled to take children without a warrant:

"We regularly bring police. Sometimes police call us. The term is exigent. If there is imminent danger to the child we do have the legal right, if it is deemed. There would be a social worker on site; they would consult with their supervisors, and the authorities. Often we are called by a hospital. They are mandated reporters. So is a school district."

Such cases are not isolated. Another, making headlines in Orange County, contends that CPS testified in defense of the abuser.

There, Ruby Dillon's 7 year-old daughter was removed from her family due to a custody battle, and has been held for 15 months.

Dillon accuses the father of sexual abuse that she says she has on tape. Bryan Claypool, her attorney in the case (who is suing CPS for $1 million per month), contends that CPS does not want the custody battle between the estranged spouses to end because it wants to profit off of the case.

According to a local CBS affiliate, Claypool commented that, "Simply put, the more children that are removed from a household (whether lawfully or not) the more money that flows to CPS through state and federal funding."

Claypool further alleged that CPS is more motivated to protect its US$ 2.2 billion budget than it is focused on child safety and adoption efforts. He calls it a "legal kidnapping."

Claypool told reporters the institutionalized corruption goes much deeper, and farther than the cases he represents. "Every word we have said we can back up," he said.

CPS declined to comment on the case.

The Nikolayev can heave a sigh of relief though after winning a major victory. Last June 2013, a Sacramento County Juvenile Dependency Court judge granted the county's motion to dismiss the CPS case against them. This is something the county had signaled was a possibility at the previous hearing in May. What it means is that Anna and Alex Nikolayev will no longer be subject to visits from CPS, and they won't have to go to trial to stop those visits.