Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.



Dracula Protects Baby

October 21, 2007 permalink

Nebraska baby Joel Anaya was forcibly taken from parents Josue and Mary Anaya for mandatory blood tests. The parents opposed the action on religious grounds. In the photographs neither parent appears to be of African descent, so the sickle cell test was superfluous. Instead of taking the baby for the few minutes required for the test, the state kept him for six days, interfering with breastfeeding.

Child protectors love the cases where they appear to be providing real help to a child, and publish them with real names notwithstanding confidentiality laws. In the more common cases where they harm a child with a parentectomy, they keep the case secret and threaten anyone contemplating publishing the facts.



Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blood test done on Omaha baby, but fight isn't over


Joel Anaya with mother Mary
Six-week-old Joel Anaya with his mother, Mary, who said she would continue to press for an exception to state-mandated blood testing.

Baby Joel Anaya was welcomed home Tuesday into his mother's arms. And his father's arms. And his sister's. And his brother's. And another sister's. And another brother's.

In fact, all nine of Joel's siblings held, kissed or otherwise fawned over the 6-week-old brother they hadn't seen since he was whisked into foster care last week.

"Finally, he's home," said older brother John Anaya. "He should have never left."

The family of 12 piled onto a small couch for a photograph of the happy moment, with the baby in the center. Not having Joel "has been very stressful for the family," said Josue Anaya, their father.

Despite the objections of Josue Anaya and his wife, Mary, Joel's blood was drawn Friday and screened for medical conditions, as required by state law. The tests screen for a variety of conditions, including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease, which could lead to mental retardation or death.

Joel had been in state custody since Oct. 10 when a petition was filed in Douglas County Juvenile Court alleging the Anayas put their son at risk by not having him screened.

Following a court order, Joel remained in foster care until the preliminary test results were received Tuesday and showed the baby was not predisposed to any of the disorders, the Anayas' attorney said. The Anayas then were reunited with their son, and prosecutors dismissed the case.

Joel's parents say they object to the blood withdrawal because of their religious beliefs and conscience. They believe in certain Scriptures that say life is in the blood.

Anaya family
Joel Anaya, 6 weeks old, is cuddled by his mother, Mary, who is also holding Justus, 23 months. Patting Joel's face is Rosa, 4. James, 8, is at left. Juda, 10, is at right. The family reunion also included father Josue and the five other children.

Attorney Jeff Downing, who represents the Anayas, said it was appalling that Joel's blood was drawn before the Anayas had an opportunity to appeal the judge's decision.

"We can't undo what was done," Downing said. "But from a legal standpoint, we have a right to appeal."

They are considering filing an appeal, either in Douglas County District Court or the Nebraska Court of Appeals, he said.

Judge Elizabeth Crnkovich was not looking out for the child's best interests in Friday's court hearing, Downing said, criticizing her comment that it was inappropriate to allow Mary Anaya the frequent visits needed to breastfeed Joel at every meal.

Not allowing Mary Anaya to consistently breastfeed Joel during the critical first few weeks of attachment put him at greater risk than the chance that he had one of the diseases being screened for, Downing said.

She was allowed some visits and was able to nurse the baby during those times.

Mary Anaya, 40, said she will keep pushing for Nebraska to adopt an exception to the state-mandated testing, for the sake of her children and the grandchildren she hopes to have in the future.

Most states provide some sort of exception for people who object to the blood tests based on "religious" or "sincerely held" beliefs. Nebraska has no such provision.

Joel was born at home. Workers with the Nebraska Health and Human Services Department routinely cross-check a database of newborns who have had the screening with birth certificates issued. In Joel's case, a worker noticed the boy had a birth certificate but had not been screened.

The HHS worker first sent the Anayas a certified letter informing them that their baby needed to be screened in accordance with state law. She also called Mary Anaya, congratulated her on her new baby and asked if she planned to have the baby screened, according to court testimony.

Mary Anaya said she did not. Then the worker asked Mary if she knew what would happen next. Mary said, yes, we've been through this before.

The Anayas previously fought a court order that required that the testing be done on their daughter Rosa. But in 2005, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the order to have the testing performed. In that case, Rosa remained in the Anayas' custody while the case was being argued.

So when sheriff's deputies arrived Oct. 10 to take Joel into state custody, it was a complete shock, Mary Anaya said. She expected to be summoned to court, but she didn't expect her child to be placed in foster care.

In court Friday, Mary Anaya explained that part of her objection to the blood screening is she doesn't believe in inflicting pain on a healthy infant. She also said the Bible talks about how life is in the blood. "To me, the blood is something important and not to be tampered with lightly," she told the court.

Mary Anaya declined to discuss her religious beliefs in detail Tuesday because she said she feared others might mock them. Anaya and her husband are ordained ministers. They also are administrators of the Mission for All Nations food and clothing pantry in Omaha.

They have avoided having the metabolic screening done on most of their 10 children, who now are ages 21 years to 6 weeks.

Every parent chooses the risks they are or are not willing to take with their own children, she said, adding that she won't allow her son to play football because of the risk he could be injured.

Source: Omaha World-Herald.