I finally got my chart from the hospital. Here's what the Social Worker and the Occupational Therapist think of the Blind Satanist:
Plan of Care signed by Tara Sol, MSW at 06/11/141002
Author: Tara Sol, MSW Service: (none)
Filed: 06/10/14 1533
Reviewed pt. Chart and spoke with social worker Mary Galvez who met with this family yesterday. Concerns were expressed regarding the mother's ability to care for this infant. This SWer to follow up with gathering resources for this family. This SWer and per diem social worker Judy, met with the mother and FOB. The infant was: in the bassinet.∑ We discussed the lack of resources available to them as the mother is not on DSHS insurance so does not qualify for maternal support services. Additionally, we are unable to refer for home health OT as home health OT can not be a primary service (would also need nursing or another skilled discipline to also be ordered). SWer did speak with Janet George with the Department of Services for the Blind. Per Janet, she is agreeable to doing a phone consult with this family and possibly getting Independent Living Skills arranged in the home for this mother. SWer provided the family with Janet's direct number as well as providing them with the Parents Resource Guide of Thurston County and the Thurston County resource list.
The parents shared that Ashlee lives in a very small studio room (uses shared bathroom and kitchen) where there is only a mattress on the floor. The FOB and the infant are not allowed to be living there but they state that the landlord lives in Issaquah so it is easy to hide from her. The father then proceeded to say that the landlord would have to take her to court to evict her and hopefully they
would get a judge that "liked" Ashlee and would understand her hardship and allow her to stay in the appt with him and the infant. SWer asked if they have done anything to find alternative housing and they said that they have not. The FOB did state that they liked an appt in Chehalis but they needed a co-signer so they were not able to get this appt. Ashlee stated that she just needs a small space for her mattress. SWer asked her, "what about what the baby needs as she gets older and needs space to learn to crawl and walk?" The FOB said, "well ya, but we can take her somewhere to do that".
SWer asked why they did not have family support. The FOB stated that Ashlee does performance art and posts it on the internet. He stated that they also both do podcasts that are on the internet. He stated that her family attempted to get restraining orders against her due to the content of what she posts on the internet. Her grandmother was granted a restraining order against her. FOB then stated
that they believe her family contacted his family because his father told him that he will no longer support him after viewing the internet pieces. FOB has since lost his housing from being cut off by his father. SWer asked what her performance art was about and she proceeded to tell me about her two dolls, Chrissy and Maiy Myers. FOB then got her the two dolls. Ashlee started to speak in a very high pitched voice as though she was the doll speaking to me and Judy. Ashlee spent some time interacting with us through the dolls. Note that Ashlee rocked back and forth the entire time we were meeting however, it got more pronounced as she was speaking through the dolls.
This SWer was concerned about the content of the performance art given that both of their families estranged themselves from these parents over it and a no contact order was granted. An internet search revealed Ashlee in a video where she was beating a near nude man as she made him yell "hail satan" over and over. Ash lee has a podcast and facebook page titled "the blind satanist." There is also the videos of the doll "Mary Myers" whom she calls her daughter and sings of Mary having a mother "so wicked." Ashlee writes that she is possessed by 4 demons "that live inside my black, murky soul." There are many other concerning posts that will not be detailed in this note but that were passed on to Child Protective Services.
SWer discussed the above with the PCP and the decision was made to place the infant on a hold and keep until CPS has come to investigate and determine the safest disposition for this infant. The parents were not informed of the CPS intervention because the investigation might be compromised if they knew.
PCP to meet with the parents and inform them that the infant will not be DC'ed.
Plan of Care signed by Maria L Ganzfried, OT at 06/10/14 1635
Filed: 06/10/14 1635
Problem: General Plan of Care (Adult, Obstetrics)
Goal: Care Plan Shift Summary & Review
Author Occupational Therapist
Note Type: Plan of Care
Occupational Therapy Plan of Care
OT tx this a.m to continue instruction and training with blind mom of newborn baby girl. Mom, Ash lee is feeling better today. FOB, Chris, is present and makes statements acknowledging the effects of lack of sleep. Ashlee calls Chris, "SamSam" throughout my time with them yesterday and today. Ashlee is sitting upright in the bed holding baby in in her arms resting on her lap. Baby was facing away from Ashlee. I learned that Ashlee is able to see contrasts.
She noted the 'spots' (color design) on baby's blanket. Dirty baby diaper was on the floor by the 'bassinet'. FOB admits he just changed baby's diaper. Discussed safety issue/ concern of this kind of practice especially when at home in their very small living space. I asked Ashlee what was important to her to be able to do with baby. She was not able to state.
Chris spoke up and stated Ashlee will need to be able to diaper, dress, and feed baby, and high priority is for Ashlee to be able to put on a baby carrier and put baby in it so they can ride the bus. Ashlee does use a seeing cane and will need to carry baby in a front carrier. Attempted instruction in swaddling baby with single blanket wrap. Ashlee needs cues for evey step. She shows attempt to attach to baby but has poor interaction and poor awareness of baby. Ashlee needs
cues for handling, picking up, holding, and comforting baby. She had difficult time following the instructions and was not successful with diapering or swaddling. Did not attempt dressing baby. The baby carrier FOB bought is not for infants.
He will go purchase an infant front baby carrier. RN came into room. I told her to call me when FOB returns and I will come back to continue instruction. I strongly recommend continued OT tx either HH or Outpatient. I had conversation with CM pre and post OT session. Ashlee has impaired insight, problem solving, and awareness, as well as not demonstrating an appropriate attachment and nurturing of baby. In light of this combined with living environment and poor social support, I am concerned for baby's wellbeing, development, and safety.
Occupational Therapy will follow Ashlee R Levcun (1-3 visits) until discharged from therapy or discharged from the hospital.
Occupational Therapy Discharge Recommendations are:
Recommended discharge disposition: home with family/caregiver
Post discharge occupational therapy recommendation: home health (HH OT for training in safe baby mangmt in home
Equipment Recommendations: (Has baby carrier, bassinet, bouncy seat, car seat.)
Planned Interventions: other (see comments) (lnstrc/trng blind pt in safe handling/managmt of baby care.)
Reflects last filed data of patient status; may be from multiple contributors.
Pertinent History of Current Problem: Vaginal delivery of 7 lb baby girl on 6/7/14. Pt is blind from birth but has slight peripheral vision. Eyes have 'searching nystagmus'. Pt has h/o PTSD.
Prior level of function: Pt and boyfriend live together in a first floor rented room in a 2 level home/building. They share the hall bathroom and kitchen with many other people. Room is very small and there is not even a chair. Pt sleeps on a foam 'mattress' on the floor. Their room does have a sink and undercounter small refrigerator. Pt is blind. SO works off and on. He does not have a car to drive, so they use the bus system.
Orientation: oriented x 4
Level of Consciousness: alert
Behavior: WFl (some cognitive delay)
Follows instruction and answers questions: 100% of the time
Personal Safety and Judgment:
Indep with transferring baby to/from bassinet and mattress on floor, and also into baby carrier on mother.
Indep diapering and dressing baby.
END OF REPORT
Printed on 7/30/2014 16:32
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Ashlee, Chris, and Amira's story of injustice and abuse of state power at the Family Birth Center.
by Ashlee Levcun, Chris Allert, Monica Peabody, and Sierra Brown
On the afternoon of June 6, Ashlee Levcun and Chris Allert checked into Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia because Ashlee went into labor. Upon checking in, Ashlee and Chris informed the check-in worker that they did not want any visitors or telephone calls or anyone to be told they were in the hospital. They informed the check-in worker that this was due to family conflicts, and that they would simply prefer to have some privacy during the first few days with their new baby, that they would wait until returning home with the baby to take visitors.
The next morning, Saturday, June 7, at 11:15 am, Ashlee gave birth to Amira, a 7 lb. 2 oz. 19.75 inch beautiful baby girl. Ashlee, Chris, and Amira were transferred from their labor and delivery room to a postpartum room in the Family Birth Center. Upon being transferred, the postpartum nurse told Ashlee that she had ordered an occupational therapist for her to help her with the baby, and that until she received further training, she was not to take Amira out of the bassinet, pick her up, or carry her around the room. Ashlee challenged the nurse, thinking this sounded strange, asking if all patients were assigned occupational therapists before being allowed to hold their newborns. She and the nurse argued for a little while, but Ashlee and Chris finally relented, thinking Ashlee may find the training helpful in any case.
Less than 24 hours after Amira was born Dr. Stein, a resident who identified himself as working with Dr. Miller, came in and pressured Ashlee to receive birth control. Chris and Ashlee thought it was very weird because they weren't going to be having sex for a while anyway (just gave birth, ya know) and didn't feel the need to make any decisions right away. The doctor wanted Ashlee to receive the depovera shot immediately, or begin taking the pill immediately. We wonder if this is now standard procedure across the board, or if they tend to pressure low income folks about birth control, or if Chris and Ashlee were being specifically targeted and discriminated against.
Sunday, June 8, an occupational therapist named Maria L Ganzfried came into the room to work with Ashlee. Before the training began, Chris asked Maria if she had any experience working with blind people, and blind new mothers in particular. She was somewhat evasive, said she had some experience working with people with limited vision, but did not really answer the question. She attempted to train Ashlee to breastfeed, to change a diaper, to swaddle Amira, and to hold Amira in a few different positions. Ashlee and Maria seemed to get along fairly well, but the training seemed far too rushed to be useful, and Ashlee never got a chance to learn anything Maria was showing her through repetition in her presence.
A nurse came into the room and Ashlee overheard her telling the nurse that she was timid handling Amira, and that she was very "slow" in everything she did with her, that she didn't seem very confident and needed a lot of encouragement. Ashlee found this confusing, as she thought it would be unwise to rush doing things she hadn't learned completely, given the inadequacy of the training Maria provided. She also thought it was rude that Maria didn't even have decency to leave the room to say this to the nurse.
Later that day, a Social Worker named Mary Galvez entered the room asking Chris and Ashlee about their situation. They told her that they were very poor, had no financial support from anyone but each other, that Ashlee was completely estranged from her family, and that Chris was not in contact with his family either, that they depended on Ashlee's Social Security income of $1042/month along with Chris' income from art sales of around $300/month, and that they would be happy and eager to find out about any assistance they would qualify for. They also informed Mary that they were wary of accepting help from faith-based charities due to their traumatic experiences with religion growing up. Mary referred them to a financial counselor at the hospital to help find health insurance coverage for Amira, and also gave them a list of resources they could follow up on, which they said they intended to do as soon as they were released from the hospital. Mary went on to say that the fact that they hadn't applied for all the help they could get before giving birth to Amira made them look irresponsible.
That evening, Dr. Miller, Ashlee's doctor, who also provided prenatal care, visited, saying Ashlee, Chris and Amira should be able to check out the following day, and that a little more occupational training would be helpful. Ashlee and Chris agreed with this assessment, and informed Dr. Miller that the Occupational Therapist, Maria, had not been particularly helpful, that she had simply shown Ashlee what to do, rather than telling her how to do things and giving her a chance to do them herself to verify the training was effective. Chris also mentioned to Dr. Miller that while Mary had provided a few useful resources, what would be most helpful would be some assistance finding more suitable housing.
The following day, Monday, June 9, a different Social Worker named Tara Sol entered the room asking mostly the same questions Mary had asked the day before. She asked more pressing questions about their housing situation. Ashlee and Chris reiterated the situation, that they lived together in a studio apartment with a shared bathroom, that Ashlee was the only one on the lease, but that they didn't expect her landlord to evict them as she had several vacancies in the same building, and that even if they were evicted, they would have at least a few weeks to find a new place to live. Chris said he was confident that if needed, he could impose on one of his relatives to let Ashlee, Amira, and him move in with them, but that they would prefer to stay in Olympia as long as possible because they consider it a more suitable and positive place to raise a child than any of their other options. They also informed Tara that any contact with Ashlee's family was out of the question. Tara continued to pressure them to find a new place, suggesting they were being too selective. She even made the comment that she wished she could afford to live in Olympia, but lived in Shelton instead. Chris thought it strange that a full-time social worker at a major hospital could not afford to live in Olympia, but let the comment pass, as it had no relevance to his family's situation. She also implied that Chris' intention to stay home with Amira and Ashlee full-time was unrealistic, stating that, "We don't live in Sweden." Chris and Ashlee continued to politely engage Tara, but it was clear to both of them, she had nothing useful to offer them.
Also on Monday, Maria returned for more Occupational Training with Ashlee. She intended to train Ashlee to use the baby pouch Chris had bought in advance. When she and Chris began to look at the pouch, they realized that it was for a 3-month old, not a newborn. Chris said he would go out immediately to buy a new pouch, but Maria did not have time to return again or wait for Chris to return with the new pouch. Chris left to buy the pouch anyway, but Maria did not do any training at all with Ashlee that day or any day after that. Later that day, Dr. Miller assured Ashlee and Chris that they would be going home the following day, and that she would attempt to get Ashlee more outpatient training for caring for Amira, which Ashlee and Chris could either do at home, or if they did not qualify for home visits, could come to the hospital for occasionally.
The next day, Tuesday, June 10th, Dr Miller returned again for her daily visit late in the afternoon. She said that she'd been talking with Tara the social worker, and that as a result of their conversation, did not feel comfortable sending Amira home with Ashlee and Chris. Chris and Ashlee were shocked at this, and had a long conversation with Dr. Miller to determine what the causes of her concerns were, and what they could do to address them.
First Dr. Miller said that she was certain Ashlee and Chris would be evicted soon for having too many people living in Ashlee's studio apartment, and that the three of them would be homeless. Chris informed Dr. Miller that she is not a lawyer, and was not personally acquainted with Ashlee's landlord, that while she may be right about them being evicted soon, the eviction would take at least a few weeks if it did happen, and that would give Chris plenty of time to find another place to live or with as a last resort, with relatives. Dr. Miller agreed that the housing situation was not really the main concern, and that she personally was satisfied that Ashlee, Chris, and Amira would at least have a roof over their heads for the time being.
Next Dr. Miller said that she was concerned that only Chris had the necessary skills to take care of Amira, and that it wasn't sustainable for him to be around "24/7" for the indefinite future. Chris and Ashlee agreed that this was a concern, but that they would gradually improve Ashlee's skills with the baby at home so Chris could build up to spending more and more time away from home. Dr. Miller did not seem immediately reassured by this, so Chris and Ashlee asked for a list of specific skills she needed to see Ashlee having before taking Amira home. Dr. Miller said she needed to see Ashlee be able to pick up and carry Amira around with her safely, that she needed to see Ashlee change a diaper without help, that she needed to see Ashlee feed and clothe Amira unassisted as well, and that she wanted to see Ashlee able to use the baby pouch. Ashlee immediately demonstrated that she could pick up and carry Amira around just fine, and Dr. Miller agreed after seeing it that she could do this well enough. Ashlee, Chris, and Dr. Miller talked for a while longer, and also agreed that Ashlee could probably learn to use the baby pouch well enough after leaving the hospital, but that she absolutely needed to know Ashlee could feed, clothe, and change diapers on her own before feeling comfortable releasing her. She assured Ashlee and Chris that they would receive more occupational training the following day, and that if they could learn to do all these things, they could go home the next afternoon or evening. She even suggested that Chris could train Ashlee to do most of these things on his own, which Chris and Ashlee agreed was worth a try. Ashlee and Chris were quite relieved to hear that all that was needed for them to go home was learn a few skills that evening.
Shortly after Dr. Miller left, a nurse came into the room and informed Ashlee and Chris that they were being transferred from the Family Birth Center to Pediatrics. The nurse helpfully advised Ashlee to go ahead and order a meal because they were still covered in the Family Birth Center, but she didn't know about the Pediatrics ward. Chris and Ashlee decided that this was a good time to begin reaching out to the community for help, as they no longer knew what to believe from their doctor or hospital staff, so at 7:15 pm, Chris sent a Facebook message to Monica Peabody and a few other friends saying:
"so the hospital is refusing to release Amira to ashlee and me because they think ashlee doesn't have enough skills to take care of her. right now i can do everything she needs, and ashlee just needs a little more training to handle amira when i'm gone (changing diapers herself, clothing) which we could easily do at home. anyway, was wondering if any of you had any ideas on how to get the hospital to release us? I know we have rights, and that we are able to meet her needs. They're transferring us to pediatrics in a few minutes, meaning ashlee is no longer actually checked into the hospital, and just amira is, but we can still stay in the room with her 24 hours and come and go freely. It's also kind of a hardship for us to stay in the hospital longer as we have to pay for meals and so on (our plan was to take her home yesterday, and just start caring for her there). Our doctor said to us that she thought she could release us tomorrow if ashlee learns to change a diaper, dress amira, and feed her a bottle herself, which sounds reasonable to me. I'm worried that they'll find some other reason not to release us when tomorrow comes though, so would appreciate your thoughts on what we can do if that happens."
There was an outpouring of support and ideas via facebook from Chris's friends then Chris said this,
"We've tried during the entire pregnancy to get training for Ashlee, and no one ever comes up with anything. The doctor who kept us here is the same doctor we've been seeing prenatally, and we had asked her several times about getting training so it is really inexcusable now that I think of it. Yesterday she told Ashlee we'd be going home today, so I'm afraid to believe anything she tells us. I'll feel better when we get out of here. It's really stressful, and I'm just hoping Amira doesn't pick up on it too much."
Monica talked with a friend who is a nurse who suggested they ask the nurse what would happen if they chose to take Amira "a.m.a. (against medical advice)." She also said there should be a patient advocate at the hospital. Monica also sent them contact information to Disability Rights WA.
Chris's friend Rochelle found some parenting information from other blind parents:
and on the rights of blind parents:
Once Amira was checked in to Pediatrics, they asked their new nurse about their new accommodations. The nurse apologized for the smaller room, but said the couch was actually more comfortable than it looked for sleeping, and that unfortunately she was unable to do anything about the furniture, but that she would do whatever she could to make us more comfortable while we were there. She also said Ashlee could still order meals because she was Amira's breastfeeding mother, and that Ashlee and Chris could come and go freely, but that they could not take Amira out of the room until she had been released from the hospital.
Ashlee tried to sleep a little, but instead, she decided that she would like to learn as many of the things Dr. Miller had said she needed to see that evening so that all the time with the occupational therapist the next day could be spent learning to use the baby pouch, and so that by morning, all of Dr. Miller's concerns could be shown to have been addressed, so they could go home with Amira as soon as possible. For the next several hours, Chris trained Ashlee to change diapers on her own, followed by training her to feed Amira from a bottle. The night nurse asked if she could watch the training as she was curious about it. Ashlee liked the night nurse and found her presence calming, and was very appreciative of everything she'd done to help, so had no objection. By very early morning, Ashlee and Chris agreed that it would be good to get some sleep, and that Chris could easily train Ashlee to dress Amira in a onesie after they awoke.
Sometime between 10 and 11, Ashlee and Chris were awoken by a Social Worker entering their room. She identified herself as Yvonne Chase from "Children's Services." Chris asked if this meeting could be postponed a few hours as they had been up all night training Ashlee to care for Amira, and that they were expecting the Occupational Therapist at any time and wanted to save their energy for that. Yvonne said "No." Chris then asked what the meeting was about, asking if it was about getting Ashlee, Chris, and Amira signed up for benefits or assistance that the other social workers had mentioned a few days before. Yvonne said "No" again. Chris took a closer look at her card and noticed that it said she was from "Child Protective Services." He then said to her that he was not comfortable speaking with her without having Monica in the room, and that he would appreciate postponing their unexpected meeting for an hour or two. Instead of simply agreeing to come back in an hour or two, Yvonne proceeded to ask a very sleepy Ashlee several direct personal questions in quick succession. Chris then contacted Monica again on Facebook.
At the same time, as Monica was getting ready to head over to the hospital to visit Chris and Ashlee and Amira, she got this message from Chris,
"Please contact me ASAP. CPS is here interviewing us."
She headed straight to the hospital and the CPS worker, Yvonne, was still there when Monica arrived. Chris asked Yvonne to repeat the allegations that resulted in this "hospital hold" on Amira. Yvonne asked Chris to repeat them back to her so she'd know he understood them. He again asked her to say them. Ashlee said she would try and repeat them.
Ashlee said that the hospital placed the hold and called CPS because they were concerned that Ashlee would not be able to care for Amira when Chris wasn't with her and they had developed concerns over Ashlee's cognitive abilities to problem solve. They were also concerned about some videos Ashlee had made and posted online that featured some of her dolls she called her demon babies. Yvonne said that Ashlee had correctly outlined the allegations.
Monica asked Yvonne if she was worried that Ashlee didn't know the difference between dolls and her real baby, and Yvonne asked Ashlee if she did and Ashlee answered that of course she did. Ashlee got up to show Yvonne that she could provide basic care for Amira. She walked over to the bassinet where Amira was lying and Yvonne said, "Oh I see you are not totally blind. I can take that off my list of concerns."
Monica said that it seemed that this was happening because of Ashlee's disability and religion and that seemed like discrimination. Yvonne didn't answer. Monica asked what was a hospital hold and what were Ashlee and Chris's rights. Yvonne said she would get the hospital social worker, Tara, to come in and explain it.
Tara came into the room and explained that a hospital hold is when the hospital has no medical reason to hold a child, but feels that there is a danger of imminent harm if released to their parent or caregiver. She left and brought back the paper with the RCW explaining a hospital hold.
Protective detention or custody of abused child — Reasonable cause — Notice — Time limits — Monitoring plan — Liability.
(1) An administrator of a hospital or similar institution or any physician, licensed pursuant to chapters ( http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=18.71 ) 18.71 or ( http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=18.57 ) 18.57 RCW, may detain a child without consent of a person legally responsible for the child whether or not medical treatment is required, if the circumstances or conditions of the child are such that the detaining individual has reasonable cause to believe that permitting the child to continue in his or her place of residence or in the care and custody of the parent, guardian, custodian or other person legally responsible for the child's care would present an imminent danger to that child's safety: PROVIDED, That such administrator or physician shall notify or cause to be notified the appropriate law enforcement agency or child protective services pursuant to RCW ( http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=26.44.040 ) 26.44.040. Such notification shall be made as soon as possible and in no case longer than seventy-two hours. Such temporary protective custody by an administrator or doctor shall not be deemed an arrest. Child protective services may detain the child until the court assumes custody, but in no case longer than seventy-two hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. (2) Whenever an administrator or physician has reasonable cause to believe that a child would be in imminent danger if released to a parent, guardian, custodian, or other person or is in imminent danger if left in the custody of a parent, guardian, custodian, or other person, the administrator or physician may notify a law enforcement agency and the law enforcement agency shall take the child into custody or cause the child to be taken into custody. The law enforcement agency shall release the child to the custody of child protective services. Child protective services shall detain the child until the court assumes custody or upon a documented and substantiated record that in the professional judgment of the child protective services the child's safety will not be endangered if the child is returned. If the child is returned, the department shall establish a six-month plan to monitor and assure the continued safety of the child's life or health. The monitoring period may be extended for good cause. (3) A child protective services employee, an administrator, doctor, or law enforcement officer shall not be held liable in any civil action for the decision for taking the child into custody, if done in good faith under this section.
[1983 c 246 § 3; 1982 c 129 § 8; 1975 1st ex.s. c 217 § 9.]
Monica asked Tara and Yvonne where they were seeing a threat of imminent harm when the whole time she had been there Ashlee and Chris and been taking loving and appropriate care of Amira. They didn't answer.
Yvonne had forms for Chris and Ashlee to sign and they told her they didn't know what they were and they would be happy to sign them once they confirmed what the implications of signing them would be. Yvonne seemed angry and asked if they were refusing to sign. Chris said they weren't refusing they just needed to confirm what they were with someone who didn't work for CPS. Yvonne told them that the soonest they could have a Family Team Decision Meeting was Friday and Amira would have to stay at the hospital until then. Chris, Ashlee and Monica challenged Yvonne on the validity of the hospital hold and asked her if she could simply release Amira to her parents. Yvonne said she had to investigate the case and that it wasn't productive for her to stay any longer and stormed out.
Monica called Sharonda Amamilo, an attorney with the Thurston County Office of Assigned Counsel. Sharonda didn't answer, but texted back that they should sign the forms, so they called Yvonne and told her they would.
Monica put out this alert on the POWER Facebook page:
Hello all. We have an emergency situation here. POWER members, Chris Allert and Ashlee Levcun have had their beautiful baby, Amira. If you don't know them by name but live in Olympia you will probably have seen them in town. Ashlee is sight impaired, uses a white cane, and says, "Hail Satan" a lot. The hospital is refusing to release their baby to them and has called CPS. The allegations seem to center around Ashlee's disability and religion. I've been with them for several hours and see nothing that would give me concerns that this baby is in any sort of imminent danger if she leaves the hospital with her parents. Ashlee and Chris are wanting folks to come to St. Pete's to show that they have a lot of community support. You can reach Chris at 425-522-3748 and he can guide you to where they are.
Shortly after posting this, Monica received a call from Mark Collins, a social worker with the Office of Public Defense. He had seen the Facebook post and wanted to help. Monica put him on speaker phone and he was able to talk to Chris and Ashlee. He asked about the case and assured Chris and Ashlee that he would do whatever he could to help them.
Monica stayed at the hospital until she had to leave, when Jen and Sierra showed up with fried chicken. Other friends visited during the day and evening as well.
On Tuesday Sierra found out through Monica that Ashlee and Chris' new baby girl Amira was being held at the hospital. There were no health risks or concerns, but the doctor and nurses had called CPS on Ashlee and Chris. The reasons for this hold were based on some hospital staff disbelieving a sight-impaired mother could adequately provide for her child. When Ashlee and Chris met with the first social worker Tara, other concerns based on Ashlee and Chris' Satan project and performance art were brought up. It was clear to Monica and Sierra that CPS was called based on discrimination and the hospital hold was being used inappropriately.
When Sierra got to the hospital, we waited for Dr. Miller to arrive. When the doctor came in, Chris let her know that she had broken their trust and didn't understand why she chose not to communicate to Ashlee and Chris about how long they were going to be in the hospital or why they would not let them leave with Amira. Ashlee and Chris reiterated that throughout the pregnancy they had been asking for extra support and preparation for parenting, which Dr. Miller brushed off and didn't provide. If she truly had been concerned about Ashlee's ability to parent she would have used the past nine months to help Ashlee prepare and build needed skills.
Dr. Miller responded, when pressed, that she didn't know what else to do, that all this time she had thought everything was fine, and that Ashlee and Chris were prepared, until speaking with the social workers at the hospital, and that she now felt that she had really "let Ashlee and Chris down" in this situation. Chris said that he wasn't sure what they would have to do to build up trust again, but that if Dr. Miller could address a few of their immediate concerns, that might help, but that he still believed the use of a hospital hold in this situation was completely inappropriate, as Amira was clearly in no imminent danger should she be released to her parents.
He said Ashlee needed something for her pain now that she was no longer checked in, that if there was something she could do to get meals for Chris at the hospital it would help alleviate the financial hardship of staying there so much longer than they expected to, and that it would probably make quite a difference in their CPS case if she would either show up to the Family Team Decision meeting on Friday, or at least write a statement of support for Chris and Ashlee, and that if there was any way she could have Ashlee and Chris allowed to take Amira to the FTDM, that would help, as separating a newborn from her loving parents would certainly not be in Amira's interests, and that if she could simply release Amira from the hospital hold, that would be best for everyone. Dr. Miller said she was powerless to do anything about the hospital hold on Amira, that only CPS could release Amira now, but that she would do what she could about the rest. A few minutes later, Dr. Miller found Ashlee some painkillers, and found a petty cash fund that could cover Chris' meals for the next few days. She also attempted to move the FTDM from the DSHS in Tumwater to the hospital, and she did attend the FTDM in person on Friday, June 13.
On Thursday, June 12, Mark wanted to meet Chris at their apartment for a walk through. Yvonne called Chris when he was on his way to meet Mark and asked if she could go. Chris said he was trying to keep meetings to a minimum and that he would have answers for her after talking with Mark. She was very pushy about attending the meeting, but Chris explained that he hadn't even met Mark yet and didn't even know how he would be helping out. Yvonne said she didn't know who Mark was, but Chris assured her that many of the people she worked knew him.
Mark told Chris that he'd done his due diligence by looking at Chris and Ashlee's video and said he wasn't concerned, it looked to him like campy performance art. He asked about their situation and said it seemed like they had enough income and that their house was big enough and that it looked like they had prepared for the baby, when he saw all the basinet, baby bath and all the baby stuff they had. He said he would do everything he could to get them to close the case.
Sierra stayed at the hospital with Ashlee while Chris was gone and got to meet Mark when they returned to the hospital. Chris asked Mark to help him sign the HIPPAA forms so Mark could have access to Amira's case.
Chris, Sierra and Monica went back to Chris and Ashlee's apartment to do a quick cleaning before the CPS walk through on Friday. A few more people stopped by the hospital to visit. Mark talked to pretty much everyone related to the case.
On Friday morning, June 13th, Sierra drove Monica, Chris, and Ashlee to CPS for the FTDM. They had to leave Amira behind in the hospital. Yvonne and her supervisor, a facilitator, and a standard handful of people CPS brings. Chris and Ashlee had a lot of supporters including friends and family.
Chris asked before the meeting started if they could record the meeting and the facilitator said that wasn't allowed to protect Chris and Ashlee's privacy. Chris and Ashlee said they were giving their consent to being recorded and hoped that this meeting could be broadcast as widely as possible. The facilitator then said that CPS had a policy against being recorded because people had taken their statements "out of context" in the past. Chris said that he was willing to let them record the meeting as well just so all parties present would have the complete transcript and no one could take anything out of context, but the facilitator insisted that no recordings of the meeting would be allowed.
Chris began the meeting by suggesting that the CPS case be closed immediately since Ashlee and Chris were clearly capable of caring for their own daughter, and because there was overwhelming community support for them present at the meeting. Someone from CPS responded that it wasn't possible because Washington State Law required them to keep their case open for six months simply because it was opened as the result of a "hospital hold." Mark Collins asked for a copy of the state law that said this, and CPS provided a copy of RCW 26.44.056. After the meeting, Mark reviewed this law, and interpreted it to be irrelevant to Ashlee and Chris' case as it only applies when law enforcement was involved.
The meeting proceeded very slowly, as so many people were present in support of Chris and Ashlee, and each of them took a few moments to introduce themselves and state their impressions of Chris and Ashlee and their suitability as parents. After these introductions, very intense pressure was put on Ashlee and Chris by CPS representatives to accept services from CPS and for Ashlee to undergo a Psychiatric Evaluation. The only negative statements about ashlee's suitability as a parent were given by phone from Maria, the occupational therapist from the hospital, and by Mary, the social worker from the hospital. Maria said that ashlee seemed to have trouble learning the the skills she attempted to teach her. Chris stated for the record, that this training occurred within a few hours of Ashlee giving birth, which seemed very relevant to him, and that it seemed unreasonable to expect anyone to be capable of very much so shortly after delivering a baby. Everyone in the room seemed to agree with this assessment. Mary the social worker stated that Ashlee seemed to have more trouble bonding with her baby than anyone she had ever seen, though when pressed, she was unable to provide any specific examples of what she based this on other than the fact that ashlee wasn't taking Amira out of the bassinet and holding her enough. No one else in the room had noticed Ashlee not bonding with Amira enough, and Ashlee had, in fact, been instructed by the nurse when she arrived in postpartum to not pick up the baby herself until she had received occupational training from hospital staff, which she had not yet received at the time of Mary's visit.
The meeting continued for sometime, with increasing pressure from CPS to accept at least a few in-home services, and increasing insistence by Ashlee and Chris that such services were neither necessary nor helpful.
Finally the meeting concluded with the outcome that the best place for Amira was at home with her loving parents Ashlee and Chris. After the meeting Chris's dad described it as a kangaroo court, and said he couldn't believe how much the state was spending on such nonsensical events.
Chris and Ashlee have yet to receive notice of any kind that their case has been closed, though they have been assured by Yvonne that it will be once she gets around to filling out the paperwork.
Amira is thriving at home now, thankfully unaware of the injustice surrounding her first days of life.