by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News
A South Dakota couple still can’t figure it out. All they know is their three children, all under 3 years old, have been taken away for reasons they cannot fully explain because it makes no sense to them. They also have no idea how to get their children back from Child Protective Services (CPS).
They did what any other parent would do, and for that, Molly Bowling and Michael Becker report they had their children taken away from them.
How Seeking Simple Medical Help Led to a Family Nightmare
On Black Friday, November 28, Molly reports that she got off work at 4 pm from WalMart, where she works as a cashier. She went home to help her boyfriend’s mother Joyce set the table and fold clothes. Then she and Michael went to the daycare at 5 to pick up the baby, 2 1/2 month old Creedance, and her other two children from a previous relationship – Noah, who is almost 2, and Robin, who will be 3 in March. It was much like any other typical evening.
The baby fell asleep in the car, but woke up crying when they started to unbuckle him from his car seat. Molly assumed he was hungry, since the daycare last fed him at 2:45. She prepared a bottle for him, and Michael tried to feed him. Creedance remained fussy and wouldn’t take the bottle, so Michael changed his diaper and Creedance fell asleep again.
The family ate dinner with Michael’s parents. When the baby woke up around 8 pm, they tried to feed him again, but he wanted no part of it. While he was crying, Michael says he noticed something odd on the baby’s tongue and told Molly and his mother to look. His tongue appeared to be cut, straight across, about an inch back.
Molly said that she started to freak out, wondering what in the world could have happened at daycare. Michael’s mother tried to calm her and recommended that they call his doctor. The doctor instructed Molly and Michael to take Creedance to the emergency room at Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Robin and Noah stayed home with their grandparents.
When they got to the hospital, the parents explained they had no idea what had happened, but the baby’s tongue was cut and he wouldn’t take his bottle. The doctor checked the baby, and told the couple he was calling Children’s Voice, a child abuse nonprofit.
They were fine with that, because they couldn’t figure out what could have happened to the baby. Molly and Michael both report they assumed something must have happened at the daycare. They were concerned because he wasn’t eating. There were no other marks on Creedance except the cut on his tongue.
“It all happened so fast,” reports Michael Becker. “Next thing I know, we’re being questioned by CPS and detectives.”
They were told Creedance needed to stay overnight at the hospital to make sure he was feeding well, which seemed reasonable to them at the time. Molly reports the only treatment they did at the hospital was give him a dose of Tylenol.
According to the children’s grandmother, the police and CPS came to the house and looked in on the toddlers as they slept in their rooms. The authorities allegedly told the family that the home appeared safe and the children could stay with the grandparents. Molly and Michael were told they would have to sleep elsewhere, so they went to a nearby hotel, without their babies.
On Monday, they were instructed to take Robin and Noah to be examined by a doctor from Children’s Voice. The children are described by their family as happy and healthy, a picture which is supported by numerous photos and videos of the family. The doctor allegedly said they appeared fine, showing no signs of abuse.
Molly and Michael were again questioned separately by the police, who were described as trying to play them against each other. Michael reports that after they asked him the same question for the fifth time, he asked for a lawyer. According to Molly, “everything came downhill after that.”
Warrant-less Entry to Home and Removal of Children
That is when authorities showed up again at Michael’s parents’ home, demanding to take the children. When Joyce asked if they had a warrant, she reports they told her, “We don’t need one for this,” because it was about the kids.
The reason the authorities gave for taking custody of the children was that it was unsafe for the children to be there. No further reason has been given to date.
When Molly asked about the daycare, she was told the police had spoken with two people at the daycare center; and they said the baby was acting fine. Detectives reportedly viewed some video footage from the daycare; thus the center was ruled out. However, a former employee of the daycare company allegedly told the couple that there are plenty of places in the facility the cameras do not pick up.
To this day, Molly and Michael have only seen their babies once since their seizure by CPS. Michael reports that the baby now has a “horrendous cough” since being in CPS custody, and Molly says that his little face is all scratched up. She never let that happen because she kept his nails clipped. That doesn’t appear to be happening now. Robin is “not herself” and had diarrhea.
The family is devastated and confused. When baby Creedance was just 12 days old, Molly wrote on her Facebook page: “I couldn’t be more happier with my life, yes it’s hard with 3 kids under 3 but they are my everything – it’s amazing how much they change me:)” Now, she tells me that she is very sad because, “everything I do reminds me of my kids.”
Michael says he “thought taking him to the hospital was the right thing to do.” Yet now, “we’re being looked at as though we beat a 2 month old.”
They had one court hearing on December 2, at which the judge put a 14 day hold on the children. According to the parents, there were no charges given “because they don’t have evidence.” The 14 days were up on Tuesday, December 16, but there is still no word on the next court date.
They have tried to find answers; but they say no one tells them what is going on. They “call and call and call” with no answer, except that CPS says they are going to keep the kids “a little bit longer.” They have no court date, and have no idea what to do next. The hardest thing is that they still won’t let them see their babies.
According to Michael, “this is insane.” They have racked their brains trying to figure out how the baby got a cut on his tongue. The only thing they can come up with is that maybe someone at daycare pulled the bottle out of his mouth too hard, because Creedance has a very strong suction, or perhaps a hair got in his mouth and wrapped around his tongue and cut it. They really are stumped, but they believe it must have been an accident somehow. Michael told me it doesn’t even make sense to him that someone would purposely hold a baby’s tongue and slice it. Everyone in the family reports that they saw no sign of bleeding. No blood was on his car seat, clothing, bassinet, or bottle.
Molly reportedly told the CPS social worker that the cut on his tongue didn’t happen at the house. The worker told her they have ruled everyone else out, so they “know” it happened at the house. In frustration, Molly says that she told her, “Prove it,” because she knew she couldn’t prove something that didn’t happen. The CPS social worker’s alleged response was chilling:
“We don’t have to prove it.”
The parents say the caseworker’s name is Breanna Gearhart.
CPS: An Agency with Unlimited Power and No Accountability?
It is frightening to think that Child Protective Services can snatch children away from parents without proof. Babies need their parents. Infants cannot comprehend the separation from their mothers; and research shows that such separation is deeply traumatic for them emotionally, even when justified. One must ask, how is it justified to take children away from parents for nothing more than an isolated accidental injury?
Molly reports that CPS had been called on her once before, a year ago. At that time, a hospital wanted to run a test on Robin’s heart that Molly was not convinced was necessary. After CPS showed up, Molly agreed to allow the test. The test showed there was nothing wrong with Robin.
Family Needs Support
The family has a Facebook group set up for supporters – Bring Bowling’s & Becker Babies Back. Molly and Michael are heartbroken, confused and asking for help. They admit that the cut on the baby’s tongue is strange, but they don’t have an answer. They also don’t know what they need to do to get their children back, because no one has told them.
According to the South Dakota state government website, Governor Dennis Daugaard boasts a legislative record before becoming governor that “was particularly focused on protecting children and helping the disabled.” He now actively “promotes South Dakota as a great place to expand existing businesses and to locate new businesses.”
It would seem that these goals are not furthered when parents can have their children seized by the state for simply taking their child to the hospital to check out an injury.
Governor Daugaard’s office phone number is 605.773.3212. You can also email him here.
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