Malik with aunt and Lakisha

Malik with his aunt and his grandmother Lakisha. Photo provided by Tanna family.

by Health Impact News/ Staff

It has been two years since “Baby Malik” was returned to his family. It has been a long journey of helping him to overcome the harm from being taken by Child Protective Services and Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, but his grandmother Lakisha Tanna says that they can finally “function like a normal family again.”

Malik just started K-5 kindergarten. He is doing well now, but that didn’t happen overnight.

He was out of his family’s custody for 1 year, 8 months, and a day. All that time in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) had a lasting impact on him, and it wasn’t good. He came home with a great deal of insecurity, afraid to let Lakisha out of his sight.

There were times that Lakisha was afraid that he would never come home, and times that she feared for Malik’s very life.

She thanks God that he is safe now.

The public attention brought to their story by Health Impact News made a big difference, she believes. As long as DCFS and Lurie Children’s Hospital were able to operate in secrecy, there was no accountability and they were able to do whatever they wanted with Malik, including perform multiple experimental surgeries on him without his family’s consent.

To this day, Malik’s story remains one of the most horrific stories we have ever covered of medical abuse under Child Protective Services custody. Because our readers became involved in making phone calls and writing letters, holding the hospital and DCFS accountable, Malik was finally returned home.

See our original story here:

Chicago Lurie Children’s Hospital Takes Baby Away From Family for Seeking a Second Opinion

Incredibly, and perhaps not surprisingly, Malik has not required a single surgery or hospitalization in the entire two years since he has been home.

Rough Beginnings for Baby Malik

Malik was born on July 5, 2012, with a medical condition that resulted in his small intestine being surgically removed, known as short gut syndrome. When he was just 6 days old, the family decided to transfer him to Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, because they wanted the best possible care for Malik. Lakisha told us:

This is supposed to be a place that has the best interest of children at heart.

His condition was serious. Early in his life his parents made the decision to transfer guardianship of Malik to his grandparents. It was a family decision, made with Malik’s care in mind.

Malik as baby with grandparents

Baby Malik with his grandparents. Photo source – For the Love of Malik Facebook page.

The first 8 months of Malik’s life were spent in the hospital. When he came home, it was with an in-home nurse. He continued to have feeding and weight issues, and remained under the care of doctors from Lurie Hospital.

When Lakisha missed an appointment due to the car breaking down, the hospital made the first hotline call to DCFS on her for abuse and neglect.

After an investigation, the charge was determined to be unfounded. However, she was warned to be careful because DCFS receives many calls from Lurie Children’s Hospital on minority families.

Request for Second Opinion Results in Medical Kidnapping

By December of 2013, Malik had already had 4 surgeries. He wasn’t even a year and a half old, and Lakisha began questioning and expressing her concerns over his care from Lurie. His weight was still fluctuating despite all their interventions.

She asked to get a second opinion and began talking about transferring his care to another hospital.

Malik in hospital

Malik at Lurie Children’s Hospital. Photo source – For the Love of Malik Facebook page.

While the majority of normal parents would see this as a reasonable response by any responsible caregiver, the pattern that we have seen at Health Impact News is that the very act of asking for a second opinion or using the t-word (“transfer”) often triggers prompt calls to Child Protective Services, dizzying in its speed, with subsequent seizure of custody of the child by the state. Parents come to the hospital for their next visit and find that they are no longer welcome to see their own child.

That is exactly what happened to Lakisha Tanna. When she arrived to visit baby Malik, the hospital social worker told her that she could escort her to his room to kiss him good-bye. Some parents don’t even get that much.

What followed was more than a year and a half of surgeries and procedures by Lurie Hospital, some without his family’s consent. Due to the laws surrounding foster care and dependency, children who are wards of the state can legally be used for medical experimentation, and their families are powerless to stop it.


Medical Kidnapping in the U.S. – Kidnapping Children for Drug Trials

So, Lakisha asked Health Impact News for help. Their original story was published on March 7, 2015.

State Attempts Damage Control – Issues Gag Order and Demands We Remove Our Story

Those within the DCFS system and Lurie Hospital did not like the exposure. By mid-May, they retaliated by attempting to silence Lakisha with an unconstitutional gag order, in violation of the First Amendment Right to Free Speech.

We learned at that time from sources close to the family that the hospital was planning to repeat a surgical procedure on Malik to resection his intestines. This was a surgery they had already done twice before, apparently unsuccessfully since he was not getting better. The family was afraid for him, leading one of the family’s supporters to post on the Facebook page, For the Love of Malik:

This lil baby has been through so much in this short time of his life. He needs his family. I personally think he should be removed from that hospital. I’ve read several families complaints about Luries. Now they trying to do another surgery on this poor baby. Sounds like their experimenting on him especially now that he’s in state care.

See a similar story, happening in Georgia:

Young Girl with Rare Trisomy 9 Condition Medically Kidnapped in Georgia – Life in Danger

At the end of May, the state bullied Lakisha Tanna against her will into sending a letter to request that Health Impact News take down Malik’s story. We refused, standing on the legal principles of the First Amendment of Freedom of the Press.


Instead of taking the story down, we published another story explaining that the family was being bullied, and that the State of Illinois was trying to suppress the information regarding this family and their experience with medical kidnapping.


Medical Kidnapping in Chicago: DCFS Does Not Want You to Know What They are Doing to 3 Year Old Malik

Freedom of the Press is What Exposes Government Abuse

The more those in power tried to hide what they were doing, the more the public got involved. Supporters made phone calls and wrote letters and emails on Malik’s behalf. Social media warriors took to their keyboards. People came to the courthouse.

The family and their supporters believed that what the state of Illinois and Lurie Children’s Hospital were doing to this little boy and his family was abusive, and the public demanded action.

Lakisha compares their actions to a perpetrator of abuse who bullies his victims into silence. As long as the victim keeps quiet, the abuse continues. “But the moment you start talking,” things shift.

Sometimes, there is retaliation, but the victim has begun the path to freedom. It is no longer so easy for the perpetrator to keep getting away with their crimes once they are being exposed.

Malik Ninja turtle birthday

Malik as a crime-fighting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle at his 5th birthday party, celebrated with family and friends. Source: Tanna family.

She says that the judge started paying more attention to their case “once he realized that there were other eyes on it.”

The Guardian ad litem allegedly “was so concerned” about word getting out about what was happening. They started closing ranks and closed the courtroom to everyone except those directly involved.

There were threats made to the family that they were not to talk about the case.

By then, Lakisha says, it was “One voice versus a hundred voices.” The story was out there, and people were watching.

While sometimes local mainstream media will pick up stories we break on, the “new” media that is making a difference is social media and independent news sources like Health Impact News. Some of the stories we have exposed over the past few years have gone viral and literally reached millions of people, putting tremendous pressure on local officials, social workers, judges, governors, etc.


Child Protection Services is Out of Control – What Ordinary Citizens Can Do About It

Alternative Media Changing Public Perceptions About Legal Child Kidnappings and the Shame of Having Your Children Taken Away

When Lakisha first approached Health Impact News, our website and team hadn’t been around very long. It was difficult for her and other parents to talk about what was happening with Child Protective Services.

Parents, even parents who were completely innocent of any wrongdoing, were filled with embarrassment that CPS was involved.

Lakisha spoke of the shame:

Nobody wanted to talk about this publicly.

The mentality was that, if CPS was involved with your family, you must be a terrible person and an abusive parent. Unless it happened to them, most in the public were largely unaware that innocent people could lose their children.

Very few understand that the United States Department of Health and Human Services is aware that only 18% of all reported cases of abuse are even substantiated or indicated.

18 percent substantiated

See report here, page 18.

The Justina Pelletier case out of Boston, Massachusetts, was the most widely publicized case of Medical Kidnapping at that time, but even then, most of the public believed that it was anomalous. There was little awareness that this type of thing was happening all over the country on a daily basis.

With increased awareness of the Medical Kidnapping stories, like Malik’s, Lakisha believes that some of the stigma that families experience has been reduced, and that people are more willing to talk about what is happening.

Malik age 5

Malik – all ready to start kindergarten. Photo provided by Tanna family.

Sick Children Need Their REAL Families to Heal

Malik’s experience was horrible, and the fact that he was separated from the family that he knew and loved made his experience that much worse.

Lakisha says that taking the family away at such a vulnerable time hurts the child and makes treatment less effective.

She says that hospitals “need to involve the family” in treatment, and that the medical cases “need to be looked at a little bit more carefully before involving DCFS.”


The U.S. Foster Care System: Modern Day Slavery and Child Trafficking

It has taken time for Malik to heal from all the damage that was inflicted by the state in keeping him isolated from his family.

Judge Ruled Go Home, Still Took a Month

We reported on July 8, 2015, that the judge ruled the day before that little Malik was to be returned home. He had turned 3 years old days before.

After his most recent surgery, Lurie Hospital sent Malik to Maryville Children’s Healthcare Center, a facility for medically complex children. Lakisha reports that she believes that the children she saw there were almost exclusively wards of the state.

She described it as a “shelter-like facility,” where Malik was in a room with many other children, most of whom had trachs and could not talk.

They expected that he would be staying there for a few more days while paperwork and arrangements were made to bring him home.

Though DCFS petitioned the judge to allow 6 to 8 weeks for this transition to occur, Lakisha was thankful that the judge denied that request. She says then that she has to wonder if that is all about the money that would have been made from Malik if he had remained in that facility.

He didn’t come home quickly though. It took a full month. Lakisha believes that it was indeed about the money, and that they stretched his time there out as long as they could in order to maximize the funding they would get for him.

This is similar to the experience of many other families whose stories we have covered. Though Child Protective Services has no qualms about immediately seizing a child suddenly away from their family and everything they have ever known, the “reunification” process drags out as long as they can possibly do so.

Not one family we have spoken with believes that this has anything to do with what is best for the child, but that it has everything to do with the system maximizing the funds they can get by keeping the child in the system longer.

The family was on pins and needles, hoping and praying that there would not be any kind of sabotage or retaliation. Indeed, one reader sent a message of caution to us for the family:

Not to be a party-pooper, but I know CPS too well, and if, during the days and weeks ahead they can get any of the service providers they are forcibly sending this grandmother to (supposedly to complete “their” paperwork) to come up with even the remotest question about her willingness to cooperate, stability, ability to be an appropriate guardian or even if they can discover she has a mole on her back that “might” become cancerous someday–they will go back to court and take that child in a heart beat.

The only reason they backed down now is because of the media coverage and the odds they were going to lose. They will do this even if Malik is thriving and happy because their main concern is funding and their secondary concern is they cannot afford an uprising where they are seen as impotent–they must have the power to intimidate parents around the country!  The welfare of the child is not even remotely considered, believe me.

Family Strives to Rebuild Their Family Life, Overcome Trauma

Despite their worries, Malik is safely home with his family now. When he first came home after a year and a half of being in state care, Lakisha says that he was insecure. He didn’t want to let her out of his sight. He wanted his toys and his important people right there with him at all times.

The family struggled as well. They were still under DCFS scrutiny for a few more months, till finally the case was completely closed out. They were very cautious about making waves, and lay low for a while.

When Malik started preschool right after coming home, it wasn’t easy to adjust. He was hesitant to interact with the other children and play with them, content to just watch. His social skills were lacking, because his basic sense of security had been so damaged by DCFS.

They had to rebuild and work with him to help him become more secure. Lakisha and Malik’s aunt took him on a Disney cruise last December. He is no longer tied to machines and tubes. And slowly, he has recovered.

Malik with Pluto

Malik with Pluto on a Disney cruise. Photo provided by Tanna family.

Malik celebrated his 5th birthday this summer with lots of friends for his Ninja Turtle party, and he just started kindergarten.

He is loved and safe. He still goes to his specialists and doctors, but he is doing well and has not had to be hospitalized since he has been home.

Lakisha told us:

We don’t go to Luries for anything!