Dear Champion of Parental Rights,
Thanks to you, we are doing something very few non-profits have accomplished in all of history: we are changing the culture for families in America.
When a child services investigator knocked on my door on April Fool’s Day 2003, it was no joke. We had no idea who “called us in,” or what their concerns were supposed to be. But we knew one thing for sure. Fifteen years ago, if CPS was investigating your family, you didn’t tell a soul.
After all, if you’re under a child welfare investigation, something must be going on, right?
That was the assumption fifteen years ago. It was the assumption ten years ago when I started with ParentalRights.org.
But today, more and more families know the truth. Thanks to the work of the Parental Rights Foundation and ParentalRights.org, the facts are getting out.
- Today we know nearly 40% of all American children will be involved in a child welfare investigation before they reach the age of 18. We know more than 400,000 children will spend time in foster care this year.
- We know more than 2,100 children are removed from their homes every three days in this country—removed by government agents due to accusations of abuse or neglect.
- We know that in many states, minority children—sometimes African-American, sometimes Native American, sometimes Hispanic—are removed from their homes at double or even triple the rate of white children, a phenomenon likely due in part to nothing more than “good old-fashioned” bias.
- We know that 83% of child welfare cases will ultimately be closed as unfounded or unsubstantiated, that 5 of every 6 children will have suffered the intrusion for no reason. And we know that 100% of them will be traumatized by the experience.
- We know, conversely, that only 17% of child welfare investigations uncover evidence of abuse or neglect. And we know that number drops to only 4% when we look only at those investigations that spring from anonymous reports.
Thanks to the work of ParentalRights.org and other non-profit organizations and coalitions that have arisen in our wake, Americans are waking up to the true nature of this epidemic. Families are being destroyed, not by abuse, but by the system we have put in place to protect the children from abuse.
Our families are being torn apart for want of good laws that protect the right of innocent families to live in peace, free of government intrusion.
With this knowledge, we are changing the culture. And it’s a good thing we are. Because every day more families are torn apart, and they need protecting.
Because nothing short of a cultural shift will enable us to pass the Parental Rights Amendment, the ultimate defense to protect families from this government invasion.
Until we succeed, the threats still remain.
The Threats Still Abound, but Americans Are Taking a Visible Stand
There are still “experts” like Professor James Dwyer who teach that parental rights are conferred by the government at the birth of a child. And what the government gives, the government can withhold or take away, not because you’re guilty of abuse or neglect, but simply because the government believes it can do better by that child.
There are still doctors like those at Boston Children’s Hospital who took Justina Pelletier from her family a few years ago simply because they disagreed with her medical diagnosis. They imprisoned her in the hospital’s psych ward and withheld the medical treatment she needed, all backed by the authority of Massachusetts’ Department of Children and Families.
Sadly, such cases seem to be on the increase.
It shouldn’t be surprising, I guess. Often when the truth starts to come out, those who oppose it will double down. But I am hopeful that’s not going to fly in America.
In other nations, threats to parental rights have been obvious:
- We watched in horror as this year in Britain little Alfie Evans followed the same path as Charlie Gard the year before. Struck with a rare and unknown illness, Alfie was held in a London hospital that ultimately decided to end his care. Like Charlie, his parents were cut out of the decision. Offers to take up his care came from other hospitals—even other nations—but all went unheeded. The public raised tremendous funds and raised their voices, but the outcry was ignored. The British courts backed the hospital instead of recognizing the parents’ right to save their child. Just like Charlie Gard, Alfie Evans was laid to rest, a victim of the State’s power over his parents.
- In Norway, Amy Jakobsen lost her rights to her son, Tyler, five years after the Barnevernet took him from her custody because she dared to breastfeed him at 19 months. He was healthy, and Amy was monitoring his weight closely to make sure he stayed that way. But the government seized him anyway, and even changed his name multiple times to keep his parents from finding him.
- And in Canada, Toronto’s SickKids hospital unveiled a policy to allow terminally-ill teenagers to opt for euthanasia, or “assisted suicide,” without a parent’s consent. This policy ignores the vital role of parents not only as a safeguard to help their adolescent child make the best decisions, but also as a safeguard against any dishonesty on the part of the hospital. Under this policy, what is to keep a hospital from ending a child’s life at the doctor’s convenience, then telling the family it was the child’s decision? There are reasons children have parents to protect their interests.
Sadly, threats to the parent-child relationship continue in America as well. Doctors and hospitals have taken so many children from innocent parents that the practice has given rise to a new term in our vocabulary: medical kidnapping. And a counter-scientific belief in the now debunked “Shaken Baby Syndrome” has birthed an entire new field of “child abuse pediatricians,” whose entire purpose seems to be diagnosing a guilty verdict.
But, thanks to you, the culture is shifting. Though threats still abound, Americans are starting to take a visible stand.
- This last year when 16-year-old Alyssa was medically kidnapped by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, her parents did a little digging and discovered this kind of thing happens all the time. They learned they were not alone. But they also learned the deck was stacked against them. So they sprang into action, rescuing Alyssa from her prison before the nurses could realize what was happening.Of course, the hospital called in law enforcement. But the police were a little skeptical, and Alyssa’s father had a plan.First, he drove out of Minnesota to neighboring South Dakota. Once there, he took Alyssa to another well-respected hospital, where they got a second opinion: his daughter did not need the care the Mayo Clinic was forcing on her.Armed with this new diagnosis, the Minnesota police, who seemed less than enthusiastic about persecuting the family in the first place, were quick to stand down.
- Also in Minnesota this year, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the state’s child welfare division because of the vast number of innocent families harmed by state intrusion. Despite the agency’s best efforts to get the case dismissed, it went to trial in a federal court in October. It is too early yet to know the outcome, but the fact that the court is hearing it at all shows a change from just a few years ago.
- Another refreshing change just came in Texas, where a Houston judge in November ordered CPS to pay $127,000 in damages to a family for illegally removing children from their parents’ custody without legal cause. What’s more, the court issued a “do not contact” order prohibiting the agency from bothering the family again.
- And in Indiana, mother Stefanie Thomas, whose rights were terminated in a July hearing so secret even Stefanie didn’t know about it, got those rights reinstated. When she got a lawyer and attempted to take CPS to court for their failure to grant her due process, the agency back-pedaled, conceded her point, and returned her child, rather than face the very real possibility that a judge would rule against them.
Glimmers of hope. That’s what these cases represent.
They are not yet a new normal in America, as much as I’d like to report otherwise.
But these cases do offer hope. They are clear signs that the culture is changing.
Fifteen years ago, my wife and I suffered in silence and shame, knowing no one would believe we were good parents if they learned we were “under investigation.” (We were eventually exonerated, our case closed. But the case remained open for an agonizing ten months, eight months longer than Virginia law allows.)
Today, parents are filing lawsuits, rescuing daughters out of hospital prisons, and even talking to the press in an effort to push back.
Because they know the truth. They don’t have to feel guilty, and they know they’re not alone.
You have been a crucial part of changing that landscape.
When I started with ParentalRights.org ten years ago, no one we talked to understood what “parental rights” were or why anyone would need to fight for them. But now, people know what our name is about. They have seen their own rights limited or taken away. They have seen a neighbor’s family destroyed by a gratuitous invasion.
They understand that parental rights aren’t rights over children, but rights for children against the government. They understand it’s about protecting the child’s right to be represented and protected by loving parents, not impersonal bureaucrats.
And they understand these things because of the faithful work we have been doing for more than a decade.
It has been a slow climb.
- We have lobbied Congress, especially to pass the Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
- We have urged changes to the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) and the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), two federal laws that pay states to take children unnecessarily and return them only at a snail’s pace. We have lobbied (and continue to lobby) for doing away with “anonymous reporting” (remember, only 4% of such calls have any merit anyway!) and replacing it with “confidential reporting,” where at least law enforcement knows who called.
- We have lobbied states across the country to change their laws for the good of families, and a dozen states have done so. Utah’s brand-new law, which makes clear not only that parents can choose to give their children a reasonable measure of freedom as they mature, but also that poverty does not constitute neglect, sets an example for many other states to follow.
- And just last month, for the first time in our history, we lobbied a sitting President when we urged President Trump’s Administration to act on behalf of Amy and Tyler Jakobsen in Norway.
- We have been instrumental in connecting volunteers and organizations, and in making people aware of legal resources to defend their families. We have seen countless other organizations form to defend parents as well, their own successes fueled by our research and lobbying efforts.
- And we have educated everyone who will listen on the plight of parental rights. We’ve talked with distraught parents on the streets of Detroit, and with members of Congress in the halls of the Capitol.
Thanks to you, we have opened a lot of eyes.
And the more eyes we open, the more parents stand up for themselves.
The more eyes we open, the more lawmakers understand the seriousness of the situation. No one wants an Alfie Evans or Charlie Gard situation here in America (except perhaps Professor Dwyer).
The more eyes we open, the louder the outcry grows for the Parental Rights Amendment.
But we can’t do any of this important work without your continued, vital support.
In 2019, we will
- be pushing for resolutions in as many states as possible, resolutions that call on Congress to pass the Parental Rights Amendment.
- continue lobbying, as part of a bipartisan coalition (which means we’ll have a friendly audience in both the Democratic House and the Republican Senate), to fix the problems in ASFA and CAPTA that have resulted in so many traumatized homes.
- develop model language, based on Utah’s new statute, to encourage every state to decriminalize good parenting and draw a clear line between poverty and neglect.
We will do all these things because they must be done if the culture is to continue to change in our families’ favor.
But we can only do these things with your generous support.
That’s why today, as we wind down 2018, I am urging you to give your best donation to support this vital cause into the next calendar year.
Together, we can see states urging Congress to pass the Parental Rights Amendment. We can change the law to protect a child’s right to walk to school with her parent’s permission, or to play “unattended” in his own back yard.
With your help, we can continue to inform and inspire “investigated” parents to stand up for their rights—and their child’s rights—to get the justice they deserve.
And as the victories stack up, so do our chances to protect these rights permanently in the U.S. Constitution.
Some of the victories listed in this email were our direct doing; many were not. But we are proud to play a vital educational and networking role that makes more and more victories like these possible.
With your ongoing financial support, we will faithfully continue to play that role in the coming year, and I believe we will see some of the greatest victories ever for innocent families nationwide.
Thank you for your time and for your generous loyalty to this vital effort.
Michael T. Ramey
P.S. — Real threats remain as enemies of parental rights double down on their heavy-handed, pro-intrusion policies. But every family who pushes back creates a chance for victory, and every victory moves us closer to the goal of preserving our families’ rights permanently. We are seeing the culture change. We are fueling the culture change. And with your help, we can continue the work in 2019 and beyond. Thank you for standing with us through your generous donation today!