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Parents lose custody of daughter to Massachusetts agency

Sometimes it doesn't take the trauma of a divorce to plunge a family into a nightmare involving a child custodycase. A Connecticut couple is facing a parent's worst fears after seeking medical help for their critically ill teenage daughter at Boston's renowned Children's Hospital.

In 2012, their then 15-year-old daughter was a normal child with a genetic diagnosis of mitochondrial disease that can cause problems with coordination and muscle weakness. But she had been doing fine, ice-skating and spending time with her family, until coming down with a case of the flu and being admitted to Children's Hospital in Boston.

It was there that the family's lives began unraveling. Teams of specialists examining the teen began questioning her original diagnosis of mitochondrial disease. After questioning the family, hospital officials informed them that they could not remove their daughter from the hospital, and she was placed in the care of Massachusetts Department of Children and Family Services.

Doctors were now diagnosing their daughter with "somatoform disorder," a type of mental illness. The distraught parents were escorted from the premises by hospital security. Despite testimony by the teen's longtime Connecticut psychologist, the parents lost custody of the girl within four days.

Boston Children's Hospital's defense centers around their suspicions that the teenager was over-medicated as a result of the misdiagnosis and had been subjected to many treatments and procedures that they deemed were unnecessary. This was supposedly even though the parents indicated proof that physicians had ordered and prescribed the medical procedures and medications based on their diagnosis.

Now, nine months after the girl was first admitted to the hospital, her family is reduced to sanctioned visits of an hour a week by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and a couple of 20 minute telephone calls. Sometimes the teen is able to smuggle messages out to her family hidden inside delicately folded origami art. Her notes beg her parents not to forget that she loves them.

Whether it's because of a divorce or overzealous intervention by agencies designed to protect children from abuse, facing a custody loss is one of the scariest possibilities a parent can encounter. At times like these, a compassionate and courageous attorney who is unafraid to take on the system can be you and your child's biggest ally in the courtroom.

Source: foxct.com, "Hospital Holds West Hartford Girl For 9 Months After Parents Argue Diagnosis" Beau Berman, Nov. 19, 2013

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