A Dallas couple’s home birth of their newborn and treatment for her jaundice prompted Child Protective Services (CPS) to take her away, but the Jacksons believe the agency used someone else’s criminal history to deny the mother access.
Father Rodney and mother Temecia of the Jackson family are fighting for the return of Mila, who was born on March 21, according to WFAA, an ABC affiliate in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The baby’s home birth was a success, and a licensed midwife was present during the delivery.
The baby, weighing six pounds, nine ounces, was remarkably healthy and had been receiving regular checkups at a local pediatrician’s office at Baylor Scott & White.
When Temecia was informed by Dr. Anand Bhatt that Mila was jaundiced with dangerously high levels of bilirubin, she was advised to bring Mila to the hospital for phototherapy for standard jaundice treatment.
Jaundice is a condition in which there is an excess of bilirubin in the liver. Bilirubin is a yellowish substance produced by the breakdown of red blood cells in the body. Normally, bilirubin is processed by the liver and excreted in the bile, which is then passed into the stool.
However, if the liver is unable to process bilirubin properly, or if there is a blockage in the bile ducts, bilirubin builds up in the blood and causes yellowing of the skin, whites of the eyes, and mucous membranes.
Mila’s bilirubin level was 21.7, which concerned Bhatt, who wrote that, “at a bilirubin over 20, a baby risks brain damage, because the bilirubin can cross the blood brain barrier.”
Jaundice can be a symptom of several underlying conditions, including liver disease, hepatitis, alcohol abuse, and some types of cancer.
Treatment for jaundice depends on the underlying cause and may include medications, lifestyle changes, or surgery.
Jaundice in newborns is often treated by healthcare providers who are trained to monitor bilirubin levels.
The answer is phototherapy, which involves exposing the baby’s skin to a special type of light that helps break down the bilirubin into a form that can be more easily eliminated from the body.
Cynically, Rodney and Temecia decided to treat Mila at home with their own version of phototherapy.
In addition, the parents were temporarily supplementing Temecia’s breast milk until her jaundice resolved and their licensed midwife, Cheryl Edinbyrd, was going to monitor their newborn’s jaundice levels.
Concern that the family would not have the correct lights, Bhatt would not accept Jackson’s alternative treatment. He called the parents 10 times before deciding to file a complaint with CPS, insisting that Mila would suffer brain damage if the agency did not intervene.
According to ABC Dallas, Bhatt’s letter reads as follows:
“Parents are very loving and they care dearly about their baby… their distrust for medical care and guidance has led them to make a decision for the baby to refuse a simple treatment that can prevent brain damage. I authorized the support of CPS to help get this baby the care that was medically necessary and needed.”
In response to the letter, CPS acted on the doctor’s demand, saying, “Due to the parents being unwilling to discuss the danger and potential consequences of this condition, it is necessary for the Department to intervene.”
Rodney and Temecia Jackson say their pediatrician reported them to CPS when their baby developed a mild case of jaundice, and Rodney was arrested the child is currently with a foster family. @Marcel4Congress @AfrDiasporaNews https://t.co/hWqPQxM0Fm
— proBlack Agenda (@proBlackB1) April 7, 2023
CPS expressed concerns about “possible stroke, brain damage, or other immediate dangers to child.”
On March 28, CPS, accompanied by DeSoto police officers, came to the Jackson residence and removed Mila from her home. The incident was already difficult for the Jackson family, but what made it worse was that the affidavit filed with the court that allowed CPS to take Mila listed the wrong mother.
Instead of Temecia, a woman with a history of child neglect was used to justify the removal of the newborn, ABC Dallas reported.
Temecia does not have a criminal history.
“Unlawfully, [they] entered my home to take my baby from me,” the mother said on April 6 at a news conference held at the Afiya Center in Dallas. “Instantly, I felt like they had stolen my baby as I had had a home birth, and they were trying to say my baby belonged to this other woman.”
Rodney is listed as an “alledged father” alongside another man the family does not know.
“We’ve been treated like criminals — and that’s far from the truth,” Rodney said. “This is a nightmare I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”
Mila is currently in foster care.
The parents were able to see their daughter at a CPS office on April 5 and were given a family court date for April 20.