by Health Impact News/MedicalKidnap.com Staff
Throughout history, people have taken a stand for their faith which oftentimes resulted in unfavorable consequences for the individuals. For disabled veteran David Owen and his wife Teresa, their refusal to stop practicing their Christian faith was ultimately used as a rationale in Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) seizing custody of their two special needs daughters, Angel and Catrina. According to Teresa Owen:
”Our daughters were wrongfully removed from our home because we refused to stop attending church and teaching our daughters about Christ. Angel and Catrina are being wrongfully kept out of our home, abused, and medically neglected. We are still fighting for our daughters and trying to help other families.”
Their children were taken at the beginning of 2011. To this day, they are not home, and Teresa and David are fighting to regain custody of their daughters.
Mitochondrial Myopathy, Autism, and Seizures
Both the Owen daughters, along with their mother, suffer from Mitochondrial Myopathy, the same disorder that doctors diagnosed in Justina Pelletier. Her medical kidnap case made national news in 2014. Three of the Owen family were diagnosed with the disorder by a military clinic in 2001.
In addition, Angel, the older sibling, also has autism and suffers from seizures. Their mother has learned that disabilities like theirs often result in increased funding for the school district in which the students reside as long as they are in public school.
Angel began the school year in August of 2009 at the El Dorado Middle School, much like any other school year. Teresa Owen reports having many concerns for her daughter’s safety at the school after the semester began. Once when visiting the school, Teresa reports witnessing Paraprofessionals (Paras) slapping the hands of children. She promptly reported the incident and filed a complaint with the school.
Another visit to the school on February 22, 2010, became the turning point for Angel’s education. Teresa reports that a gym teacher told her that her daughter had fallen down the stairs on at least four separate occasions, and one of those times, she was actually pushed down the stairs. They were not notified. This was alarming to her because Angel’s doctor had previously sent a note to the school, ordering that she was to use the elevator, not the stairs. The doctor had also ordered Angel to be accompanied by a Para when walking to and from classes. Her mitochondrial condition and her seizures place her at increased risk for falls.
Family Decides to Homeschool
Teresa reports withdrawing Angel from the middle school shortly after, choosing instead to homeschool. She reports filling out the required withdrawal form and informing the district of her intent to homeschool, per Kansas protocol. She researched her curriculum options, and put together an eclectic program of resources specifically designed for special needs students.
Before Teresa began homeschooling Angel, she read at a 2nd grade level. By mid-summer, under her mother’s teaching, Angel had already progressed to reading at a 4th grade level.
As she connected with other families of special needs children through the Special Olympics that spring, she reports:
“I was told about [DCF] targeting special needs kids for foster care.”
That appears to the Owens to be exactly what happened. In June of 2010, the Kansas DCF took the Owen family to court for truancy of Angel, accusing the Owens of not having Angel enrolled in school, even though they were legally homeschooling. The judge ordered the Owen family to have their daughter enrolled in either an approved homeschool program or a public school for the upcoming school year. Teresa and David Owen made the decision to enroll her in a different school than the one where she had previously experienced so many problems. Angel was accepted to Haysville District Middle School, and Teresa submitted the required documentation on August 30, 2010.
Special Needs Child Removed From the Home by Court Order
The very next day, on August 31, 2010, a court hearing took place in which DCF evaluated Angel’s current school enrollment status. Teresa Owen explained that her daughter had been accepted and enrolled in a local school, but the truancy officer in the court reportedly stated on the record that Angel Owen was not enrolled in any school at that time. The court ruled that Angel was truant. She was immediately seized by DCF and placed in foster care.
Since she was taken from her home, Angel experienced an increase in seizure activity. On September 17, 2010, Angel’s physician ordered lab tests and an EEG. The physician called Teresa Owen at 11:00 pm that same night with concerns over her test results.
Teresa reports that the physician submitted a letter to the judge stating that if Angel is kept out of her home environment, she is at risk for status epilepticus, which can result in a fatal seizure.
Because of these safety concerns, an urgent hearing to review the case was scheduled for September 28, 2010. Angel was sent home with her parents at this hearing. However, she remained in State’s custody, and case managers were ordered to make several visits weekly to the home. This was the last court hearing at Butler County. The case was then moved to Sedgwick County when the Owens purchased a home and relocated. The girls were both enrolled in public school at this time.
Case Manager Tells Family to Stop Attending Church
Because of the girls’ mitochondrial condition, Teresa says that they require a full 10 hours of sleep per night. The family is devoutly Christian, and has always attended church services on Sundays and Wednesday nights, and some Sunday night services. The next day after any evening service is often more difficult for them than it would be for someone without their condition. Previous schools had reportedly had no problem excusing tardies on the basis of religious activity. However, in October, one case manager told the Owen family that they were to no longer attend church because of the tardies.
More Issues with Public School
By late November of 2010, mounting concerns with incidents in the public school caused the family once again to consider homeschooling the girls. These included neglect by school officials in following the girls’ individual education plans (IEPs), as well as Angel’s ongoing fear and reluctance to go to school. Her mother says that Angel was even experiencing anxiety attacks about attending school.
In December of 2010, the Owens pulled the girls out of public school once again. This time the Owen family decided to use a tried and true faith-based homeschool curriculum called Alpha Omega. Angel and Catrina were enrolled in Owen Family Home School and began on December 15, 2010.
Disagreement, Corruption, and Threats from Case Workers
A case manager showed up early in December. According to Teresa, she informed the family that she had learned they were still attending church. She threatened that, if they kept going to church, they would take their kids.
Another case manager reviewed the homeschool curriculum and materials in early December and she was satisfied. According to the family, she explained that one of the positive aspects of the Alpha Omega curriculum was that it offered many ways to teach lessons, and Alpha Omega has special education staff to help parents.
The case manager who took issue with the kids attending church showed up unexpectedly just before Christmas, even though by this time they were only supposed to have visits from the other case manager. She looked at the homeschool curriculum and reportedly told the Owen family that this program would never fly because of the faith based teaching. She told the family they would be removing the kids right away.
Teresa protested the decision and claimed the state had no just cause for removal, only to be told by the social worker that she could simply make up an accusation and have her kids removed. Teresa Owen told Health Impact News that one thing that stuck out most in her mind about the case was that:
”They constantly told us they could make up believable lies to take the children.”
When she addressed her concerns with the case manager and the issue of church attendance to her superior, she allegedly received a chilling response:
”I was told by the head case manager in charge of making the final decision regarding our girls, that your children are never coming home, another victory for me.”
Even so, the girls remained in the home through Christmas and New Years, but that didn’t last long.
Children Seized by DCF, and DCF Ignores Angel’s Sickness
In late January of 2011, Angel became very ill, experiencing frequent vomiting and sickness that seemed to be getting worse. On January 20, Teresa and David Owen were preparing to take her to the doctor for evaluation when social workers and the police showed up with a court order to remove the children from the home. The concerned parents protested, stating that Angel was sick and needed immediate medical attention. The case managers told the police that they would take the girls directly to the hospital. So the parents agreed and drove to the hospital and waited.
The case managers never showed up with their two daughters.
A few days later Kansas DCF took the family to court on January 25, 2011 . It was determined in court that Angel was truant from school for too many days, and both children were ordered into state care. Teresa Owen reports she was using a homeschool curriculum compliant with state regulations at the time Angel was charged of being truant.
According to Kansas law, a child can only be removed from a home on the basis of truancy if they are at least 13 years of age. Catrina, age 11 at the time of removal, was also taken. The Owen’s were told she was being removed under Angel’s case.
Controversial Diagnosis and Unsafe Foster Care
Within the first couple of months the girls were in foster care, Angel was hospitalized on two occasions. During one of the hospitalizations, the physician reported a multitude of medical issues, including dehydration, poor kidney function, and grand mal seizures – even though the parents were informed that all tests came back normal. There was a court order in place which prevented Teresa from visiting her in the hospital or she would be arrested. A broken-hearted Teresa told Health Impact News:
“My daughter Angel told me, ‘You don’t love me. You couldn’t possibly love me, because you didn’t come visit me in the hospital.'”
Angel also had an emergency room visit after a large TV reportedly fell on her head while in foster care. Despite her seizure history, no CT scan was ordered following the head injury.
Munchausen by Proxy?
Teresa Own has treated both her daughters for their symptoms related to Mitochondrial Myopathy for a number of years. Despite the daughters’ specialist reports, the diagnosis of Mitochondrial Myopathy was removed from both of the girls’ medical charts. Teresa states that, to this day, the girls are still suffering from symptoms of this disorder that are being ignored. The state has accused Teresa of making up this medical condition and charged her with having Munchausen by Proxy, even though all three received their diagnosis from a military clinic back east, when David was still serving in the Army National Guard, following a long career in the Air Force.
Along with separation from their parents, the girls have also been separated from their therapy dogs, Blacky and Tippy. Teresa reports that they still cry for their pets.
The last court hearing was held in Sedgwick County in January 2012, with no future plans to reunite this family, despite the family reporting that they have met all conditions. While David is allowed some visitation, Teresa has been forbidden to see her beloved daughters since November 2013.
Teresa and David insist that they will not give up the fight for their daughters. They believe that the bottom line for their children being taken is that they represent a great deal of money to the state by being in state custody. The Owens are currently taking three actions in hopes of regaining custody of Catrina and Angelica:
- They have filed an appeal in Kansas Appeals Court.
- They have filed a federal lawsuit.
- They have filed a petition with the United Nations offices for Human Rights – CIDH, Office for High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) based on violation of human rights.
If you watch the emotional video below at the end of this article, you will hear Teresa explain that she felt like “a traitor” by having to file a complaint in the UN against her own country. But because Congress and the federal government is doing nothing to help them with the abuses and corruption in Kansas, they felt they had few options remaining.
Reaching Out To Help Others
Teresa Owen has reached out to others who are dealing with Children Protective Services, including the Verzosa family, whose story was originally covered by Health Impact News here. She is happy to offer her help and advice, and blogs regularly about CPS corruption.
She is also going to Capitol Hill on June 18 to talk to legislators about Mitochondrial disorders, as well as about children being unjustly taken by CPS.
Teresa offers the following advice for any parent in a situation with Child Protective Services (CPS):
”Parents need to keep documentation. If social workers don’t allow you to videotape encounters, take pictures before and after they come. If you feel threatened, you can use video for your protection, but it won’t be allowed to be submitted in court. Keep a journal! Keep all court documents.”
Finding legal help has always been a challenge for this family. When the state involvement began for the Owen family, Teresa reached out to the Disability Rights Center Kansas (DRCK) for legal assistance, only to be denied help with her case involving her daughters with disabilities. Teresa also reports that doctors and attorneys have been threatened that if they help this family, they could lose their license to practice. At this time, they are pursuing all legal matters representing themselves with free Christian attorneys’ legal advice.
Teresa has also reached out to help others who are in similar situations and started the Facebook page Protect America’s Children from the Hidden Predators.
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback ran for office on a conservative platform of supporting family and Christian values. Supporters ask for the public to call the Governor asking for Angelica and Catrina Owen to be reunited with their parents. He may be reached at (785) 296-5059 or (800-452-6727), and he may be contacted here.
In this video from Teresa Owen, she talks about the corruption in DCF and Juvenile Court. You might want to have a box of tissues nearby before watching.
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