In a heartbreaking case of complete disregard for parental rights, four-year-old Drake Pardo was illegally taken from his parents by Child Protective Services (CPS) and uniformed police officers on June 20, 2019 in East Texas.
After almost two months, multiple court appearances, and the admission of CPS in court that they had not met all of the necessary requirements for removing Drake, the Pardos are tragically still separated from their young son over a claim of “medical negligence.”
Texas Sen. Bob Hall of the state’s second district called the case an “egregious miscarriage of justice.”
“This is not just about this family,” said Tim Lambert, President of the Texas Homeschool Coalition (THSC). “CPS is broken. It is systemic and there needs to be real change in this system. That is the message we have for the governor and other legislators.”
Lambert told LifeSiteNews that despite court precedent, Texas judges feel as though they are responsible for making decisions for children if their parents disagree with non-parents in court. The THSC is helping the Pardos, who homeschool their three kids. The group has worked to defend the rights of homeschool families – and now parental rights – in Texas since 1986. Lambert spoke in detail with LifeSiteNews about Drake Pardo’s case and efforts to reunite the family.
Over 100 years of court precedent have established that parents should be responsible for making decisions for their children unless otherwise proven unfit to do so, but this is not recognized in the state of Texas. THSC has worked to pass laws protecting parental rights, but has been met with some resistance from family lawyers who have questioned whether presuming parents are fit to make decisions for their kids unless proven otherwise is valid or safe.
Every parent’s worst nightmare
Drake has had brain surgery, serious eating issues, and may have autism. The Pardos had been seeking proper medical care for Drake for years, as evidenced by his 6,000 pages of medical records.
On June 20, Ashley and Daniel Pardo heard a knock at the door and were told the person at the door had a warrant. The CPS case worker barely showed the Pardos the warrant and refused to discuss anything them, but continued to repeat that they needed to bring out “the child” and they could discuss details on July 2 in court.
The brazenness of the CPS worker in demanding that parents give their child to the state without any information or explanation shows a complete lack of respect for family structure and parents’ responsibility to protect and care for their children.
Despite lovingly caring for their three children, the Pardos are faced with what can only be described as a parent’s worst nightmare. The state has essentially kidnapped their son and the court process is providing little in the way of timely relief. The Pardos have testified in court that they have followed and intend to continue to follow all the medical recommendations of Drake’s doctors. CPS rebutted that Drake was receiving that same medical care while in state custody, so there was no need for Drake to return home – yet another demonstration of the state’s lack of understanding of the value of family. Medical care alone does not constitute complete care of a child. In fact, Drake is apparently not truly receiving quality care as he had lost six pounds in the first two weeks of CPS care, a very serious issue for a four-year-old with eating and weight maintenance issues.
Nightmare began when Pardos submitted complaint against hospital doctor
This saga began on April 22 when the Pardos submitted an official complaint against Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Their complaint: Drake’s doctor refused to visit him while he was admitted to the hospital for multiple days. The physician the Pardos filed the complaint against had been seeing Drake for years and disagreed with the parents’ desire to get a second opinion on the type of feeding tube that would be best for Drake.
The hospital stated they would review the complaint within 45 days, but the Pardos were never contacted by the hospital. On day 46, Drake was taken from them in their home. After the complaint was filed, the physician passed Drake’s files along to Dr. Suzanne Dakil, a member of the “Child Abuse” unit at Children’s Medical Center Dallas for review. Dr. Dakil completed an affidavit with speculative claims that she said needed to be confirmed or ruled out only after meeting with the parents. Dr. Dakil did not state Drake was in an emergency situation, and she stated under oath that she was surprised CPS removed Drake from his family.
Just a week before Drake was taken from his home, CPS left a business card on the Pardos’ front porch. Ashley and Daniel then quickly got in touch with Family Rights Advocacy and were eventually referred to THSC since they are THSC members. THSC was able to connect the Pardos with an attorney who represents THSC families in these and other legal cases.
That lawyer then communicated with CPS. Despite agreeing to meet to discuss the case, the CPS caseworker later testified in court that she intentionally did not inform the Pardos of a meeting with the physician who initially brought CPS into the case, Dr. Dakil, because the Pardos’ lawyer was allegedly combative toward her.
On June 29, the Pardos met with Dr. Dakil and all parties agreed to a treatment plan, except CPS. They insisted Drake stay in their custody.
On July 2, Judge Michael Chitty granted CPS custody of Drake for up to a year when presented with the following justifications by CPS: the Pardos did not show up at a meeting they were never informed of on June 10, and CPS believed Dr. Dakil’s report justified immediate removal. Again, Dr. Dakil testified in court that she did not recommend removal of Drake from his family, nor did she believe his case was an emergency. Dr. Dakil had never even met Drake or the Pardos.
The CPS caseworker and supervisor even admitted in court that they had no knowledge of any wrongdoing by the parents and had not pursued other avenues for addressing the concerns. Despite this, the judge still approved CPS’s request for a gag order on Ashley and Daniel. This prevents them from discussing Drake’s case with the media or on any social platform. If they do so, they risk jail time.
CPS admits under oath to violating state, federal laws
Mr. Lambert noted he is “very encouraged by the response of the Dallas Court of Appeals. We think they are very interested in giving us relief.” At the latest hearing on August 9, CPS demanded Ashley and Daniel admit in court to child abuse and mental health issues in order to have Drake returned. But if they were to do this it could be a criminal liability and they would likely have to give up custody of all their children. Even the judge at the hearing chastised CPS for such ridiculous demands.
In addition, CPS admitted under oath that they violated state and federal law in the creation of a family plan for Drake. A family plan must be created and agreed upon by CPS and the family prior to returning a child to the family. In the case of the Pardos, CPS presented them with an already-complete plan and demanded they sign off on it. The judge thankfully denied the approval of the family plan created by CPS.
Drake is still in CPS custody and the Pardos have limited visitation rights controlled completely by CPS. The Pardos can only see Drake under observation and at a time and place specified by CPS.
Children in foster care subjected to dangerous drug trials, face high rates of sexual abuse
Sadly, the Pardo case is not unique. CPS has made many high profile “errors” in Texas. Unsurprisingly, the mental and physical health of these children deteriorates while they are under government care.
In a case that received widespread publicity, Justina Pelletier’s parents lost custody of their teenage daughter over a disagreement with doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital. Justina was in state custody for 16 months, and was locked in a psychiatric ward and not treated for her mitochondrial disease. The Pelletiers eventually regained custody of Justina and are now suing Boston Children’s Hospital.
Justina lost her ability to walk due to the mistreatment she received while in state custody.
Many children under state medical care are used as “guinea pigs” for testing drug trials and experimental medical treatment.
For example, in 2005 the Associated Press (AP) uncovered that over the course of two decades, the government used foster children to test AIDS drugs. Texas was one of the states that allowed children in its care to be subjects in the experiments.
This was done “often without providing them a basic protection afforded in federal law and required by some states,” the AP found. “It also exposed a vulnerable population to the risks of medical research and drugs that were known to have serious side effects in adults and for which the safety for children was unknown.”
The report continued:
The research was conducted in at least seven states — Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Colorado and Texas — and involved more than four dozen different studies. The foster children ranged from infants to late teens, according to interviews and government records.
Several studies that enlisted foster children reported patients suffered side effects such as rashes, vomiting and sharp drops in infection-fighting blood cells as they tested antiretroviral drugs to suppress AIDS or other medicines to treat secondary infections.
In one study, researchers reported a “disturbing” higher death rate among children who took higher doses of a drug. That study was unable to determine a safe and effective dosage.
Researchers reported some children had to be taken off the drug because of “serious toxicity,” others developed rashes, and the rates of death and blood toxicity were significantly higher in children who took the medicine daily, rather than weekly.
At least 10 children died from a variety of causes, including four from blood poisoning, and researchers said they were unable to determine a safe, useful dosage. They said the deaths didn’t appear to be “directly attributable” to [the drug] dapsone but nonetheless were “disturbing.”
“A study by John Hopkins University found that children who are in foster care are four times more likely to be sexually abused than other children not in this setting,” notes the legal website HG.com. “Additionally, children who are in group homes are 28 times more likely to be abused than children not living in these homes.”
On August 12, 2019, PJ Media reported:
Cynthia Abcug’s son has been out of her care for over 80 days. Seven-year-old Michael* [name changed for privacy reasons] was taken from his mother’s care when Douglas County CPS took him alleging that Abcug “may be exaggerating his medical condition.” Medical reports do not corroborate the county’s claim. Abcug was also denied due process in several ways leading up to, and after, the removal of her son. That evidence can be seen in previous reporting on this issue here. She was finally allowed to see her son after 66 days of separation and she said he begged to be returned home. Her court-appointed supervisor, paid for by the county, instructed her she was not allowed to give him any comfort items or tell him she loves him during her visitation.
Since then, she has seen him two more times. The first time, Michael had a black eye. The second time he complained to her that his “sphincter hurt.” When she asked him what a sphincter is, he reportedly told her, “it’s my butthole and my foster family taught me that.” The supervisor in the room, Maureen MacLaughlin, a counselor contracted with the county to supervise visits, overheard this exchange and told Abcug it concerned her. Unfortunately for Michael, it did not concern her enough to stop him from being returned to the same foster family that same day.
In some states, something as simple as refusing to agree to an aggressive vaccine schedule for a child can lead to a CPS inquiry or accusations of “medical neglect.”
Written by Madeleine Jacob for LifeSite News ~ August 16, 2019