It was the best news ever for Chris and Keshia Turner of East Tennessee. After two and a half years battling Child Protective Services, their children were coming home. On Friday, June 24, 2017, Keshia posted the happy news on Facebook that they were on their way to pick up their children. When Health Impact News first spoke with the Turners more than two years ago, their oldest son Brayden had been taken from them by the Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) after doctors discovered that her son had multiple fractures in various stages of healing. Keshia was accused of Shaken Baby Syndrome and abuse. Keshia told us that she believed that her son Brayden was coming home eventually. Her faith in God was what kept her going, she said, and she trusted that God would one day bring good out of all that they were going through. Then, she gave birth to Carson in September 2015. Because DCS had an ongoing case against Keshia, her 4 day old baby was seized by DCS and placed with his brother. Through it all, the Turners fought hard to get their children back. When we first spoke with the couple more than 2 years ago, they knew that there had to be some kind of medical explanation for Braydon's broken bones and symptoms. However, once a doctor accused the parents of abuse, they said that the doctors stopped looking for answers. But Keshia did not stop looking. She knew that there had to be answers that the doctors had missed.
The Rivenburg family was back in court on Monday morning, June 19. This time, it was to fight for Annalise, the big sister of Baby Steffen, the baby who was taken off of life support on June 8. The family, including aunts, uncles, and cousins, were hopeful that the court would send little Annalise back home to be with her family, but that did not happen. Instead, they learned that the Department of Children's Services (DCS) now plans to terminate her parents' parental rights and place her for adoption, presumably with the foster family with whom she and Baby Steffen were placed 4 months ago, just before the baby got sick. They are devastated. Patricia's heart-wrenching sobs could be heard in the background as a family member told the news to Health Impact News. The thought of losing Annalise seems an unbearably cruel blow to the family that is still reeling from what they call Baby Steffen's "potentially preventable" death.
Civil Rights Abuse? Judge Only Gives Parents 24 Hours to Find Doctor Before Baby is Removed from Life Support
After a long day in court, the Rivenburg family did not get the news they wanted to hear about Baby Steffen. Last week, a judge approved a temporary injunction to keep the 7 month old baby from being taken off life support. On Monday afternoon, Judge Wayne Shelton ruled that Baby Steffen's mother does not have the right to make the decision of whether or not to take him off of life support, and he denied the request to extend the injunction. The family has a short 24 hour, up to 48 hour, window to find a pediatric cardiologist in the South willing to testify that the baby is eligible for a heart transplant and would survive it. Unless they find such an expert, Vanderbilt doctors, not the parents, will decide when to take Baby Steffen off of the life support machine that is keeping him alive at this time.
We asked grandmother Lisa Rivenburg if Baby Steffen is showing any signs of responding to family. She responded: YES! ALL signs! He opens his eyes, squeezes my hand, puts his hands up in the air, kicks his feet. He smiles. He grimaces. He makes his little "Elvis face." She told us that he lifts his hands up when she plays his favorite song, "Awake, My Soul," by Chris Tomlin. He's completely cognizant when he's not heavily medicated. Steffen responds to his family as much as he can while being limited by wires and tubes. Lisa said that he fights the medications that make him sleep. The family has court on Monday, the day before the court order expires that is keeping Baby Steffen alive. They have been told that Vanderbilt Hospital intends to bring in a doctor from their hospital "to say the baby has no chance."
Doctors at Vanderbilt Hospital in Tennessee want to take a baby off of life support Tuesday, May 30. His family is fighting for his very life. They believe that there is still hope for 7 month old Steffen Rivenburg Jr., who was born with heart defects but was not sick until after Child Protective Services seized custody of him and his older sister on February 2. His mother Patricia Tornberg told Health Impact News that, even though he is very sick now: I feel like he can make a turn-around. My husband and I want to give him a chance by keeping him on life support. After baby Steffen was taken from his parents and placed into foster care, he caught a very serious viral infection on February 17 which caused damage to his heart. A heart surgery that the parents were told would not be needed until he was 6 months old became necessary on February 23. That was followed by 3 more heart surgeries and other procedures on his tiny body. Patricia and Steffen Rivenburg Sr. have told the hospital and the Department of Children's Services (DCS) that they refuse to consent to taking their son off of life support, but the doctors reportedly plan to unplug him by noon on Tuesday, May 30th. The family is requesting that everyone call the Governor of Tennessee to prevent this from happening.
Matthew Marble was not even in the state when his 10 month old daughter was hospitalized for abuse. Little Hailey was in the care of her mother and her mother's boyfriend when someone smashed her head into a table. The head injury left her with cerebral palsy, and, due to the alleged actions of Tennessee social workers, the incident left her without her father. Matthew, who is disabled himself, has been fighting to get his daughter ever since that fateful day in June 2013. His parental rights have been severed by the state of Tennessee, primarily due to his disabilities, but he and his attorney Connie Reguli hope to reverse that decision and have filed a lawsuit against the state for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Matthew is not alone in his fight. His family has been by his side throughout the whole ordeal. His aunt Bobbi Dubois contacted Health Impact News to ask for help in telling their story. Bobbi and her husband Will, Jr., have been willing to take care of Hailey and facilitate the relationship between father and daughter, but they have allegedly been blocked by Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) at every turn. The Dubois are certainly well qualified - they have long been advocates for others, and have even been asked by their own state to take in disabled children. Because of his disabilities, Matthew has never claimed that he could parent alone, but he just wants the opportunity to be a part of his little girl's life. However, DCS set up a permanency plan for him which, according to Reguli, was "discriminatory and failed to accommodate his limitations." This story is about a father's right to parent his child. He loves his daughter, and he did nothing wrong. He was not involved in the abuse that happened when she was in her mother's care. DCS knows that, but still they have kept him from his daughter and have demonstrated that they prefer that she live with strangers rather than her own family.
Terminally Ill Father Finds Cure in Cannabis Oil but Now on Death Bed After Complying with CPS to Get Children Back
For nearly three years, Michael Brooks of Northwestern Tennessee has been fighting for his children and for his life. Faced with terminal Hepatitis C, he finally found a treatment that saved his life and brought him into remission. However, Child Protective Services of Tennessee is using the very thing that brought him from the brink of death - cannabis oil - as grounds to take his children and place them into foster care. He has been forced to choose between staying in Tennessee and accelerate towards his death or leaving to continue treatment in Colorado and risk being accused of abandoning his children.
In 2014, Health Impact News brought you a story about a Jonesborough, Tennessee, couple Joe and Charlotte Whitaker, who were accused of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). The local police charged the couple following a 911 call from Joe Whitaker on August 15, 2013, when their son, Jaden, became unresponsive. Jaden was diagnosed with the controversial Shaken Baby Syndrome by a “child abuse specialist," Dr. Mary Palmer of the University of Knoxville Medical Center. In an update to this tragedy, the formerly happy family of five has lost everything. The couple lost their son to the state in 2014, and recently Charlotte lost her husband, home, and job. Joe Whitaker is now in jail for a crime his family says he did not commit.
Tennessee Mom Gives Birth to Premature Twins 3 Times – Surviving Babies Medically Kidnapped for Research?
The story of Nashville, Tennessee, mother Tamika Seagraves and her children is one of tragedy upon tragedy. Tamika has been pregnant 3 times, and in each case, she gave birth to premature twins, a boy and a girl every time. The first set of twins, Zayden and his sister Ziria were micro-preemies, born at just 24 weeks. Though Ziria grew stronger and eventually went home, Zayden never went home. He only survived 13 days. Two years later, Jordan and Jaliyah were born at 35 weeks. When Jordan passed away at just under two months of age, his mother began questioning, looking at vaccines and the vitamin K shot. At the same time, Child Protective Services began questioning and looking at HER. Jordan's autopsy stated that the cause of his death could not be determined, but DCS (Department of Children's Services) has blamed Tamika. Instead of closing out the case when the autopsy report came back, DCS stepped in and seized custody of Jordan's twin sister Jaliyah. According to court documents, DCS has accused Tamika of demonstrating "erratic behaviors" because she refuses vaccinations, stopped a medication for her child out of concerns for its side effects, "tried to have Jaliyah seen by a holistic chiropractor as opposed to a pediatrician." On December 5, 2016, Tamika gave birth again to another set of twins. When they were 4 weeks old, DCS seized both of them as well. All Tamika wants is to have her children back home and to be able to grieve the loss of her two sons. She wonders if her children are being used for medical research because of the unusual circumstances of their births - against incredible odds - 3 sets of twins, all premature, all boy/girl sets, the only children born to an African American mother, with 2 of the boys dying as infants?
Chris and Keshia Turner from East Tennessee are still waiting to bring their son Brayden home since he was removed from their custody on December 11, 2014. Keshia had rushed the baby to the emergency room when his leg that had been splinted in the NICU became tight and warm to the touch. While at the hospital, an x-ray revealed a broken bone and several rib fractures. The following day, Keshia took Brayden to his pediatrician to follow-up on his care. There she found herself confronted with law enforcement and a Department of Children’s Services worker who demanded that she take Brayden to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, nearly three hours away. That evening, Vanderbilt Medical Center Child Abuse Specialist Dr. Deborah Lowen said that Brayden’s injuries could only be abuse, and investigators and doctors allegedly stopped looking for another explanation.