Joey Kangaroo and mom

Lisa Meltzer with son Joey.

Health Impact News Editor Comments

Another child in Arizona taken away from a loving parent by doctors and CPS ! What is going on in Arizona?

We have previously reported that Arizona has the highest percentage of children being removed from homes and put into foster care of any state in the U.S. The situation is so bad, that KPHO CBS5 in Arizona is reporting that babies and small children are sleeping in Social Services’ offices, since there are not enough foster care centers and homes to take care of them.

Are we really to believe that Arizona has up to 10 times more abusive families in their state than any other state in America? Or is something more sinister going on?

Joey Kangaroo’s Mom Asked For Help For Special Needs Son – Arizona CPS Took Him Away

by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News

Caring for a Child with Apert Syndrome

Lisa Meltzer is an Arizona mom of a special needs little boy – affectionately known as Joey Kangaroo – whom she “loves so much it takes [her] breath away.”

Joey has Apert syndrome, a genetic disorder in which the bones of his skull and face prematurely fused, requiring many surgeries and hospitalizations. The job of caring for a child with Aperts is very intensive, requiring constant care.

State Takes Child Away – Wants to Sever All Parental Rights

When Lisa and Joey got violently ill at the same time with a stomach flu, she asked for help. She naively thought that the state could help her in her time of greatest need. Instead, they have not only taken him from her custody, but they have also severed all her parental rights. Arizona is allegedly trying to adopt him out. Lisa is appealing the decision.

She wants her baby boy home! So does the rest of the family.

How A Loving Mother Learned how to Care for her Special Needs Child

Joey Kangaroo Newborn

Joey at birth – image provided by mother.

Joey Kangaroo was born in 2012 as the youngest of five children. People told Lisa that he would be scary-looking, but that is not what his mommy saw at all. “He is really cute,” she thought. Though he spent much of his infancy in the hospital because of his medical needs, Lisa says that she “immediately bonded with Joey.”

She met the challenges, and got the special training required to take care of him. She taught him to take a bottle and to roll over, things that she had been told may never happen. Joey experienced a number of seizures and would sometimes stop breathing. A tracheostomy tube was inserted in his neck, which requires special care. His doctor told Lisa that she needed to “physically watch him 24/7 or his trach could get plugged and he would die.” Even simple car trips were complicated. Two trained people were always required for every car trip, due to possible complications with the trach. Lisa often had nursing help, but obviously the intensity of his care and concern for his safety was exhausting.

Mother gets Sick – Calls for Help

None of the nursing help ended up being around when she needed them the most. She and Joey both caught a stomach virus at the same time. His father was not in the picture much by this time, and did not help. A friend came over and they called an ambulance for Joey. Lisa was too sick to even go with her baby to the hospital.

She was still extremely sick several hours later when a nurse from Phoenix Children’s Hospital called for her to pick him up. While Lisa made arrangements to have trained people bring him home in her stead, the hospital called CPS. Only a parent could sign discharge papers, so they had to wait for him to arrive. By the time CPS arrived, Joey’s father and five other friends and family were there. The nurse was reportedly overheard telling CPS that Lisa didn’t want Joey, but what she claims she said was that she was too sick to come and needed time to make arrangements. Big difference.

Joey came home that day, but CPS got involved, offering to put him in temporary foster care, so that Lisa could build more of a support system and get more people trained to help with Joey’s demanding care. Lisa tells Health Impact News that she actually thought they were the good guys, offering to help. She had always believed, up until that point, that they removed abused children from bad homes, and that they also provided resources to help good families who love their children but need some assistance.  She now deeply regrets her miscalculation.

CPS Puts Joey in Foster Home

Joey Kangaroo smiley

Joey happy in his mother’s care.

CPS put Joey Kangaroo in a temporary foster home. His mother agreed to release care of him while she worked to build her support system, connected with other parents of children with Apert syndrome, enlisted lots of backup care, and worked on her plan to make all things ready for bringing her little boy back home. It was a non-abuse case, and reunification was the promised goal. That is what she claims she was told.

But she says that isn’t what happened at all.

When Lisa got everything in place, ready to bring little Joey home, a new CPS case manager arrived on the scene. That is when everything changed. It was a new plan, with new rules.

Despite the fact that Lisa has “collected a small army of people to be backup care for Joey in case [she] get[s] sick,” the case worker has not called any of them or allowed any of them to be trained. Lisa’s mother and sister have documented training from nearby Hacienda care facility, but the case worker reportedly testified in court that Lisa has made no effort to find a single person to help with Joey.  They have not even been permitted visitation to see their grandson/nephew.

Lisa believers the goal of CPS changed from professed reunification to termination of parental rights after the new case worker became involved. This move has reportedly puzzled Joey’s guardian ad litem, who does not understand why she wanted parental rights severed.

Psychologist Used to Sever Parental Rights

“Her weaknesses are that she gets overwhelmed and frustrated,” according to Dr. Silberman, the psychologist who works for CPS. He later allegedly labeled these “personality limitations.” Though she has never been charged with, or even accused of abuse, he reportedly testified that she might accidentally hurt him or give up in the future.

So of course, the obvious recommendation that he allegedly made was that Joey be permanently removed from the mother who carried him in her womb until his premature birth at 34 weeks, who bore him, and nursed him through major difficulties, and who loves him more than life itself.

Another family, unrelated to the child, to CPS and Silberman’s way of thinking, is apparently better suited to take care of this adorable, but incredibly high needs child. Are Lisa and the family to believe that no foster mom would get “overwhelmed and frustrated” with a high needs child she didn’t have the benefit of bonding with from birth and before, in the womb?

Apparently equally ill-considered by these “experts” is the effect on the child of being separated from his mother and family who love him, and being thrust into the care of strangers. Separation of a child from his parents is extremely traumatic on any child, yet the Arizona CPS seems to be utterly disregarding that well-established psychological principle.

Mother Fights for Parental Rights in Arizona

Joey Kangaroo mom at rally

Lisa Meltzer at a recent rally for parental rights in Arizona.

Lisa Meltzer’s parental rights were severed in June. CPS is talking about having Joey adopted by another family. Lisa is in the midst of the appeals process. It has been four months since she has been allowed to see her baby boy. To a baby not yet three years old, four months is an eternity. He has siblings who also love him and miss him terribly.

Lisa doesn’t understand how a request for help could have turned into CPS taking her child from her forever.

“Parents shouldn’t be shamed and punished for asking for help.”

The CPS system in Arizona is fraught with problems. Lisa says the whole system is like a nightmare. She has tried to speak with Gov. Jan Brewer’s office. They told her that they cannot look into the case or get involved. She was also told that there are no “checks and balances” with judges and CPS in Arizona.

Parental Rights Abused in Arizona Court

During the termination of rights hearings, her court-appointed attorney reportedly did not call a single witness on the family’s behalf, although there were many ready to speak out on behalf of her and Joey.

On August 13, Lisa reports that she went to a court hearing on Joey’s case. The Attorney General allegedly said that she didn’t want her to be there, so the judge declared it a closed hearing. Lisa says when she resisted, because this was her son they were discussing, the judge had her thrown out of the courtroom.

The deputy’s alleged words to her protest are chilling, demonstrating a lack of respect for Constitutional principles. He allegedly told her that the judge was “above the law.”

“In his courtroom, he can do whatever he wants.”

Lisa feels she is caught in this cruel crossfire between innocent parents and children. Parents are caught in a catch-22, according to Lisa, where they “want to protect our kids, but we’re not allowed to.”

“The love I have for my son is so deep. I hope he knows how much he is wanted and loved.” Lisa writes, “I love him just the way he is! It doesn’t matter who he is, I will always love Joey and be there for him no matter what! He is beautiful!”

It is to be hoped that Joey Kangaroo can indeed be returned to his own loving flesh-and-blood family. But it is not going to be easy. There is a Facebook page set up to follow Joey’s story called “Joey Kangaroo Meltzer Apert Syndrome.”