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BC Grabs Visiting Children
February 4, 2009 permalink
Gao La Li and Coi Yun Ouyang fled to Canada to escape the effects of China's one child policy. Now they have to deal with Canada's no child policy. Both their children have been seized by British Columbia's Ministry of Children and Family Development. Allegation: shaken baby.
Couple fight to get children back as police launch abuse probe
Katie Mercer, The Province
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
A Chinese couple who came to B.C. to have their second child are now fighting to get her -- and their older daughter -- back from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Gao La Li and Coi Yun Ouyang's one-month-old and six-year-old daughters were seized Jan. 19 by the ministry on suspicion that the newborn was suffering from shaken-baby syndrome.
"We're totally innocent; there is no way we would hurt our own baby," said the 40-year-old Li through an interpreter.
The couple knew they could avoid China's one-child policy by having their second child in Canada, which would also guarantee the child Canadian citizenship. "We wanted our child to have a good future," said husband Li.
Searching the Internet, the couple found "Health and Happy Post-Partum Care Centre" -- an unregistered "maternity house" in Richmond offering pre- and post-natal care to Chinese women. The centre also books hospitals for the birth.
According to the website, the Richmond house provides "peace and happiness" during childbirth, helping to care for kids while the moms recuperate.
When social workers visited the centre, a regular suburban house in the 5700-block Blundell, four families were in residence, with seven adults and six children ranging in age from three days to nine years. Efforts to reach the centre for comment weren't successful.
The family said they paid the centre over $8,000 to book the birth in Richmond Hospital and to provide a bedroom and care.
Ouyang arrived in Richmond on Oct. 28, her husband and their other daughter arrived Dec. 27 -- six days after the healthy baby was born. The family had booked a return flight to China for Feb. 10. That's no longer the plan.
Li, clutching his trembling wife, outlined their last day together as a family. On Jan. 17, the wife of the centre's owner had taken the newborn around 10 a.m. and didn't bring her back to the family's bedroom until 7 p.m., after the baby's bath. The child was screeching and her hands were slightly shaking.
"I got the baby and was talking to it, saying, 'Don't cry, baby, mommy's here,'" said Ouyang, 34. "The landlord's wife took the baby and wrapped it in a blanket and I said, 'Don't wrap the baby, you've had her all day, I want to be with her.'"
Rocking the child, the baby fell asleep in her arms.
"There were no obvious signs of anything that would cause any attention," Li said. "It wasn't until the middle of the night that we noticed there was something wrong with the baby."
The couple rushed the child to Richmond Hospital. She was transferred by ambulance the next day to Vancouver Children's Hospital, where social workers, Richmond RCMP officers and the Ministry of Children and Family Development were waiting. The ministry took possession of the baby and placed the six-year-old in foster care. The six-year-old has since been transferred to another foster home.
According to a ministry report obtained by The Province, the baby remains in critical condition, intubated and on a ventilator.
Since being admitted, she has been given a blood transfusion and suffers from sub-dural hematoma, retinal hemorrhaging and a skull fracture. CT scans indicate further injuries, the report states. Her condition has been deteriorating due to significant brain swelling, seizures and slowing brain activity.
One of her doctors told the ministry that the infant's injuries were non-accidental, the report says.
Richmond RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Nycki Basra confirmed a probe is ongoing and that no charges have been laid.
Ouyang and Li said they are co-operating with police. They surrendered their passports, have been extensively interviewed and have agreed to a polygraph test. They know the probe will take months. In the meantime, they want their older daughter to be returned to Beijing in the care of her maternal grandparents so she can continue school.
"The child does not belong here, she doesn't have roots, friends, she's in a situation where she doesn't have parents," said their lawyer, Lawrence Wong, adding the centre's operators, who also had their kids seized, "do not want to talk" to police.
Source: Vancouver Province