(KMSP) - A judge has sided with a Minnesota mom after she argued that her son was unfairly taken from her by child protective services.
Months later, Amanda Weber and her son are back together, but the fight against CPS is far from over.
In fact, it’s just the beginning for the Family Preservation Foundation after a four-month battle that founder Dwight Mitchell says never should have happened. Now, he’s fighting for change, hoping it starts with the case of Amanda Weber.
Weber was thrilled the day she got her baby back, but she missed a lot in four months.
“I look at the foster mom and say, ‘he’s walking now?’ She’s like ‘yeah,’ and it was so devastating…it was devastating because I don’t even know when his first steps were,” Weber said.
Weber said it was 120 days of pure hell, with at least six hearings in front of a judge. Again and again, Weber was told, "no, you are not a fit parent due to medical neglect."
“Two pieces of information from two hospitals - Children’s Hospital and St. Cloud Medical Center - that said her son was OK, yet still she filed the petition to remove him from the family home,” Dwight Mitchell said.
“I wasn’t innocent until proven guilty, I was guilty until proven innocent,” Weber said.
It all started in May when Weber brought Zayvion to Children’s Hospital for a cough. Doctors determined Zayvion was fine and stable, and after a long wait for another doctor, Weber wanted to go home and signed that she was leaving against medical advice. The next day, Zayvion was immediately taken away by CPS for medical neglect.
“Amanda submitted document after document from the doctors – no, he didn’t have a severe case of apnea, his apnea was under control. He didn’t need any medication; there was nothing wrong with him, he just had a cold. So this started a chain reaction and when we proved to social services that there was nothing wrong with the child, they still wouldn’t relent,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell calls this “legal kidnapping.” It happened to him, it happened to Amanda Weber, and Mitchell says it happens all the time.
“It’s not unique to Amanda. In fact, it’s the norm. I have another mother who is going through the same situation right now,” he said.
Last week, Zayvion finally went home. The trial judge ruled that “disinformation” was used to continue the hold and that the petitioner has failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the child is in need of protection.
“I’m not against CPS, I’m against CPS in its current form and its laws. The current system is antiquated; it needs to be abolished. The disparity in the system needs to be eliminated,” Mitchell said.
But it took 120 days. A mother and baby were separated for four months for what appears to be only allegations that in the end were proven to be false.
“I’m frustrated, I’m angry and I’m on a mission to help bring about change,” Weber said.
It's important to note Zayvion was removed only for medical neglect; there were no allegations of physical or sexual abuse.
According to a statement from Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper, “it is always a hard situation when courts or county social workers remove children from their parents’ custody. These very difficult decisions are not made lightly, and are always made in the best interest of the children involved. If families don’t cooperate, it is even more difficult."
For more information on Dwight Mitchell and the Family Preservation Foundation, click here.