Idaho family

by Health Impact News/ Staff

An Idaho newborn who was seized by Child Protective Services the day before Thanksgiving over vaccine refusal was conditionally returned to his parents on Friday, December 1.

While supporters are rejoicing over the judge’s decision, there is a great deal of concern over the state of Idaho’s overreach in taking baby Elijah. Precious bonding time was lost, and a new family has been traumatized.

See our original story:

Baby of Idaho Disabled Mom Seized when Parents Claim Religious Exemption to Vaccines

Diamond Mehlhoff has cerebral palsy, which is a brain disorder affecting movement. Despite her disability, she is active and involved in her church. She lives with her husband Ari and the baby’s grandfather.

Baby Seized After Vaccine Refusal

According to Health Freedom Idaho, a group that has been involved with the family’s case since the baby was taken:

On Wednesday November 22nd, after the parents refused vaccination for the baby, the state became involved and took this beautiful baby, Elijah, from his loving parents, claiming the mother to be unfit due to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy (a non progressive movement disorder).

Idaho state law allows vaccine exemption for religious, philosophical, and medical reasons. In fact, there are only 3 states that do not recognize religious exemptions – California, Mississippi, and West Virginia.

NVIC Vaccine Exemption map

Visit the National Vaccine Information Center for more information on state by state vaccine exemptions.

At Health Impact News, we are increasingly seeing cases where the issue of vaccines seems to be the catalyst for involvement by Child Protective Services. Whether or not refusal of vaccines ends up listed in the grounds for removal, numerous parents have reported that it was when they refused one or more vaccines that medical staff became hostile or subjected them to more scrutiny.

In this case, the allegation is that the mother’s disability is an issue, but it was apparently not until after the parents stated that they were refusing vaccines on religious grounds that her disability became an issue of concern.

Targeted for Vaccine Refusal?

Dr. James Lyons-Weiler believes that the increase in cases like this is a calculated move:

What is happening here is, I believe, state by state by state, they want to set the precedent by which they’re claiming to have the authority to take children away from parents who decide not to vaccinate.

What I believe is happening is they are going after low income families who have no chance of having any substantial legal assistance, who can’t afford legal aid themselves.

They’re trying to set a precedent by which it looks like they’re taking children on the basis of vaccination, as if that’s something that they can do legally.


Vaccine Refusal Increasingly Being Linked to Medical Kidnapping – Violation of Civil Rights

Health Freedom Idaho has faced criticism that vaccines surely cannot be the real issue because the hospital has allowed other parents to refuse vaccinations. They address this concern by noting that other parents that have experienced similar things with this hospital have been too afraid to go public, and that the issue might be more widespread than the public is aware.

One argument that we see often is that this hospital has allowed others not to vax and allowed other disabled parents to take their children home. Why would it be different this time? Well, there is a first time for everything and that is why we wanted to bring this to the light.

However, as this story has come out other parents have shared their stories of being bullied at the hospital. Obviously this isn’t hospital policy so it is not across the board. So, one family can have a great experience with the staff and others can have a completely different experience.

It’s unfortunate that parents are so afraid to tell their stories for fear they will lose their children and come under public scrutiny.

Family Reunited, Bonding Time Lost

For the Mehlhoff family, they have won a temporary victory. Their baby is now home with them. Their church family has rallied around them and will be providing round-the-clock support.


According to Idaho state law, the initial “shelter care hearing” must be held within 48 hours of removal of the child, excluding holidays and weekends. Because the baby was seized on the day before the Thanksgiving holiday, it was 5 actual days before the first of the 3 part hearing was held.

He was returned home 9 days after he was seized. Thus, a 2-day old breastfeeding newborn was traumatized by separation from his mother and was deprived of critical bonding time, time that can never be replaced.

Besides the obvious impact on establishing breastfeeding, the separation from her baby is also traumatic for a newly postpartum mother. Such trauma can impact a mother’s recovery and lead to increased risk of postpartum depression.

Like every other family that comes under the heavy hand of Child Protective Services, the couple will have to jump through hoops as they prepare for the next court hearing. What those hoops are has not been released publicly.

Statement from Health Freedom Idaho

This is the statement released by Health Freedom Idaho:

***UPDATE***We had the first taste of victory and justice as it was decided by the court that baby Elijah could go home!!!

I arrived at the courthouse for the shelter hearing today ready for a long day of waiting through testimony. To my surprise the doors of the courtroom opened after only about 20 to 30 minutes of court being in session. We had the first taste of victory and justice as it was decided by the court that baby Elijah could go home with his mom (Diamond) and dad (Ari) TODAY!

I witnessed the pure joy on Diamond’s face as she was wheeled out of the courtroom knowing that she would be able to hold, nurse, and bond with her baby today.

The church members, friends, and family cheered, hugged, and cried as the news spread through those of us that had hunkered down for the long haul. The news came so quickly that it took a moment for it to all sink in and then people went into action and planning. There was an excited shout, “We have to get the carseat!”

I have witnessed an incredibly supportive church family lead by pastor Brenden Biggs. Under his direction, the church had come together with a plan of 24 hour assistance for the family and the court agreed. According to state statute, the longest that this agreement can be in place is 3 months.

We were not told facts specific to this case as it cannot be shared at this time.

We do know that the legal procedure would be this: First there is a shelter care hearing. At this point, there can be a resolution reached which stipulates that there is a reason for the Dept to be involved. Part of allowing an agreement like this means that the party is then able to get the child back immediately.

The case moves toward a pre-trial, then an adjudicatory hearing within 30 days (after the removal of the child). The parents can agree to move the hearing but the hard date is 3 months.

The resolution put forth can stay in place for 30 days, but no later than 3 months. At 3 months a new resolution needs to be written or the case dismissed. The resolution can also be dismissed at anytime.

Pre-trial hearing is set for Dec18th at 1:30 pm. The adjudicatory hearing set for Dec 22 at 9am. Of course, these times can be subject to change and we will notify you of any changes.

This is a time to celebrate! It is also a time for the family to bond as a new family should. They have things to learn especially Diamond as she learns how to mother Elijah with a disability.

This is no small task but now she has the opportunity to do this, as I would imagine that she intended, with the guidance and care of those that love her.

As for the rest of us, we need to look into the heart of this issue which is the systematic overreach of the department. It is imperative that people know their rights and how to enact those rights from the beginning of a situation before it escalates.

We plan on educating ourselves and you as we delve into the law and the protection that it can provide. We must do so keeping in mind that our human rights and parental rights are NOT granted to us by the government but by our Creator.

Contact Legislators

Even though baby Elijah has been reunited, legislators still need to hear from the public that this kind of governmental overreach must be addressed. Here is contact information for the hospital and legislators:

To contact the Kootenai Health administration office, email or call Kootenai Health’s administrative office at (208) 625-4001.

We must also continue to contact the legislators of that district and ask them to please get involved in reuniting this family.

Representative Eric Redman (208) 623-6383

Representative Vito Barbieri (208) 620-0873

Senator Steve Vick (208) 819-4189