Like many Americans, Mary Sweeney and Cedric Roberts believed that Child Protective Services was made up of "the good guys," the ones who protect children from bad parents who abuse their children. They didn't realize that a trip to the emergency room puts normal, loving parents at risk of losing their children. Mary wanted to make sure that everything was fine after a simple accidental injury, but the trip to the ER resulted in all 4 of their children being taken from them. It could have happened to anyone. The suburban Chicago couple spent the summer without their children, including infant twins, because a Child Abuse Pediatrician in another state has accused them of abusing one of their babies. The doctor never saw the baby in person. A fracture the doctor diagnosed ended up being a glare on her screen. There was no fracture. It was a mistake. Even so, Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) has not returned the children to their parents.
It has been almost 2 years since Isaiah Rider was released from Illinois DCFS custody after being medically kidnapped. Like many families who are reunited after the trauma of dealing with Child Protective Services, Isaiah and his mother, warrior-advocate Michelle Rider, largely withdrew from social media and the public eye. The horrors they had experienced took a toll and they have needed time to heal. They recently shared their story with a reporter from KWIR, a publication whose audience is largely LGBT. Michelle Rider says that she wants their story to be told as a warning for parents. Reporter Gretchen Rachel Hammond writes: "Although not LGBT themselves, Michelle and Isaiah fear for both gay and straight couples who take a child to a hospital like Lurie for help and suddenly find themselves catapulted into a hell they could never have imagined." In the opening of the series, Hammond makes this statement: "As an increasing number of LGBT couples choose to adopt, the story of one of the most disturbing and bizarre cases of DCFS removing a child after hospital doctors claim Medical Child Abuse serves as a warning." The public may not be aware that the LGBT community contributes to the demand for children to adopt. The Rider article series by KWIR serves as a cautionary tale that the children offered up for adoption to LGBT couples, and to anyone else seeking to adopt, are not always "poor abused children in need of a forever home." Adoptive and foster parents are not always told the truth about the children who are placed with them. Far more often than not, the children were taken from families who love them, who never abused them, and who have been falsely accused of hurting their children. Social worker whistleblowers have told us that they are encouraged to seize children who are "adoptable." Adults wishing to adopt children increase the demand, whether they are LGBT couples unable to conceive on their own, infertile couples, couples with good intentions who want to help children, Christian and religious families seeking to care for "the needy and the orphan," or even pedophiles. No matter the motive, whether good or bad, each serves to create the demand for children. As that demand increases, more children are being taken from innocent families in order to supply the commodities (children) to meet the demand. It is simple economics.
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.
There will be a court hearing in Chicago regarding the case of 18 year old Missouri resident. Even though he is now an adult, Cook County DCFS, their child protective system, still retains control of his life. Supporters are calling for Illinois to "Free Isaiah Rider!" They invite the press and supporters to attend the hearing, which takes place on Monday, March 21, 2016, at 1:30 pm, at 1100 S Hamilton, Chicago, Illinois, at the Juvenile Court in the courtroom of Judge Nicholas Geanopoulos. Supporters have been very frustrated with the fact that Isaiah Rider is now an adult, but the Illinois DCFS will not free him to live his life. Isaiah himself has pleaded, to no avail, for the system to let him go. He wants to be able to live his life without their interference.
Illinois continues to "terrorize" Missouri resident Isaiah Rider and his family, even after he turned 18 last August. The family had hoped that they would leave them alone, but that has not happened. Their story has not been in the news lately, but their medical kidnapping story is anything but over. Isaiah's mother, Michelle Rider, thought that things would settle down after an appellate court said that Illinois DCFS should not be involved after Isaiah's 18th birthday. They thought their nightmare with the Child Protective System was finally over. However, they have learned that the Cook County Juvenile Court, with the same judge and same players, continues to hold hearings about Isaiah. Usually he and his mother are not informed or invited to these hearings, some of which are off the record, even though it is their lives that are being decided by this entity. Michelle has learned that the state of Illinois continues to receive federal Title IV-E money for her son. Could this be the reason why Illinois won't let go of their case?
Beset by failures in leadership and in treatment of the state's most vulnerable children, Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services is hammering out a reform plan after a panel of court-appointed experts determined the agency needs a top-to-bottom overhaul if it hopes to improve the safety and well-being of the thousands of youths in its care. The report concluded that too many children who are wards of the state are shuffled from placement to placement and forced to wait months for services. The result, the experts wrote, was an erosion of the children's "already pronounced distrust in the system." The beleaguered agency also suffers from an "absence of responsibility and accountability" when it comes to ensuring the children receive the help they need, according to the report.
Illinois Governor Vetoes Bill For DCFS Services Past 18 – Does This Mean Isaiah Rider Could Go Free?
Advocates for Missouri teen Isaiah Rider's freedom are cautiously optimistic following the news that Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill on Friday. The bill would have extended DCFS services to young adults between the ages of 18 and 21. According to the Chicago Tribune, the bill sent to Rauner's desk "would require that foster care cases remain open until wards reach the age of 21, instead of 18." He vetoed the bill on August 21, calling it an "unfunded mandate" which"places a significant financial burden on the department, particularly because the department would not be eligible for matching federal funds for all these services." Representative Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, sponsored the bill and is vowing to fight back. She made this chilling statement in response to the veto: "We made a decision to make them wards of the state. That means we're their parents." Isaiah has made it clear on numerous occasions that he neither wants nor needs the government of Illinois to be his parents. Isaiah turns 18 on August 27. Advocates are hopeful that Governor Rauney's veto signals Isaiah's freedom, but are afraid to celebrate just yet, until there is confirmation from the Governor's office that the Missouri family's nightmare journey with Illinois DCFS is over.
The date was May 23, 2012. It was a beautiful midwife-assisted homebirth: a planned water birth and lotus birth. Mother Dontia, father Armondo, big brother Deon, and new baby sister Asaliah, were all happy and doing great after the birth. However, concerns regarding redness around the umbilical cord at Asaliah’s navel caused mom to seek medical treatment on June 8, 2012, at the OSF St. Francis Children’s Hospital in Peoria, Illinois. Little did Dontia know that this seemingly unassuming trip to the E.R., seeking help for her baby’s infection, would reportedly end up completely destroying her life by removing both her 11 year-old son and her newborn baby from her custody, violating what she claims is her constitutional right to religious freedom, and later, while still in the midst of fighting CPS for her medically kidnapped children, sending her into a life of hiding and secrecy to protect the life of her third unborn child. Deon is now 14, Asaliah is now 3, and her third child (un-named to conceal her identity and protect her from being seized), is now 2. Dontia has not seen or spoken to Deon in three years, nor has she had visitations with Asaliah since she fled Illinois, unable to bear the loss of another child. Dontia and her third child remain in hiding today. This is her story.
In a stunning new development on the Isaiah Rider case, a social worker from Illinois told Isaiah Wednesday that if he were to decide to move out on his own when he turns 18 next week, he would be arrested. Missouri resident Isaiah Rider is not a criminal, nor is he in any way incompetent. Far from it. He is a good student with ambitions of becoming a doctor in the future. But another state is controlling his life, and a caseworker from the state of Illinois DCFS (Child Protective Services) is making it clear that there will be serious repercussions for Isaiah when he becomes a legal adult if he tries to escape the control of DCFS. The Rider family is reeling from this new revelation.
Isaiah is not free to live his life as he wants, and if the Illinois DCFS has their way, he will still not be free when he turns 18. In his own state of Missouri, he was legally an adult at age 17, but Illinois retained custody of him. He needs your help. DCFS has allegedly repeatedly denied permission for medical treatment for Isaiah. Part of the reason for DCFS involvement in the first place was the Riders' frustration that Lurie Children's Hospital wasn't actually helping Isaiah with his pain. After they told Michelle that there was nothing else they could do, Michelle sought a second opinion, trying to find real medical help for him. Isaiah was medically kidnapped and put into foster care. It was while Isaiah was in a Chicago foster home that he was raped, and had guns and knives drawn on him. He has stated repeatedly that, though his mother has never abused him, he has suffered a great deal of emotional abuse and trauma at the hands of DCFS and Lurie Children's Hospital.