Children

Baby Becomes Briefly Underweight, Mom Loses Custody for Five Months

Religious beliefs against feeding your child animal products? That apparently counts as child abuse in Florida.

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screenshot/wftv.com

It took five months for Florida mother Sarah Markham to regain custody of her new son after the state removed the baby for being briefly underweight.

The ordeal started last June, when Markham took her 12-day-old son to a doctor and found he was dehydrated and had lost 10 percent of his weight. This is not uncommon for newborns. The pediatrician told Markham she would need to start supplementing the boy's breastfed diet with a milk-based baby formula.

Markham had no problem with adding formula, but as a Seventh Day Adventist, for whom a vegetarian or vegan diet is a part of religious beliefs, she didn't want to feed her son a milk-based product. Upon telling this to the doctor, he ordered her to take the baby to the hospital, where staff could give the infant the dairy formula.

Markham instead went to Whole Foods, bought a soy-based baby formula to supplement her son's diet, and contacted another doctor for a second opinion—not exactly the actions of someone willfully neglecting their child's health. In fact, Markham was feeding her son the new formula when local police showed up to place her under arrest. 

It seems that when Markham didn't show up at the hospital, her doctor had called the Seminole County Sheriff's Office. Police officers arrived at Markham's apartment, arrested her for "child neglect without bodily harm", and handed her son over to the Seminole Child Protective Services. Markham "was accused of refusing to give her infant non-vegan formula even though he was dehydrated," ABC News reports, as if dairy-based formula has some sort of magical hydrating properties that soy-based formula does not. 

So for the "good" of this newborn baby, he was separated from his mother for the first five months of his life. (The kid may wind up with an attachment disorder, but hey, at least he was spared the indignities of hydrating on breast milk and soy-based baby formula!). Markham finally regained custody of her son Wednesday, after a judge threw out the Seminole County Child Protective Services' claims. As a condition of the child's return, Markham must now meet regularly with a state-approved pediatrician. 

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  1. Jesus F. Christ. WTF? She was supplementing the baby, as instructed! Why does it matter that it wasn’t dairy? All the major formula suppliers produce non-dairy options. Indeed, I’d even imagine the hospital would have had a soy option.

    I can sort of (but not really) understand if she responded with “no, I’m going to breastfeed my baby exclusively because nature” but she clearly didn’t have any sort of problem with the idea of supplementing.

    1. Big Milk will stop those under-the-table payments if you don’t actually push milk on your patients every now and then.

    2. She didn’t OBEY the TOP MAN.

      1. THIS.

        She was given an order, and instead of obeying to the letter immediately, she tried to inject her own values into the care and feeding of her own baby.

        Obey obey obey.

        Or else.

        1. Into the Agony Booth with her.

        2. When the fucking fuck were doctors empowered to give orders?

    3. The problem is that she claimed a religious exemption. “Because Nature” would probably have gotten her off the hook.

  2. As a condition of the child’s return, Markham must now meet regularly with a state-approved pediatrician.

    Because state agents have proven to be so very competent when it comes to dealing with children.

    The original doctor’s name should be published, with a warning: “This doctor aids and abets kidnappers. Avoid whenever possible.”

    Also, in the afterlife, every one of these child kidnappers are going to get to share a cell with a mentally handicapped demon named “Bubba”, who thinks they look “pretty”.

    1. The original doctor’s name should be published, with a warning: “This doctor aids and abets kidnappers. Avoid whenever possible.”

      ^This. I’d pay her Angie’s List membership fee if she did that.

    2. And now more women with children are covered, which shows the program’s working!

      1. Oh, I think we’ve had universal CPS coverage for as long as there has been a CPS.

        j/k I know that CPS enforcement tends to hit poorer people hardest.

  3. Just another reason I don’t want to have kids. Jesus.

    If I was her, I’d be lambasting that doctor’s name all over the place as a slaver. “Hey, go to this doctor if you want to potentially have your child taken away!”

    1. I suspect that it was having his/her au-tho-ri-tay disrespected that set the doctor off. Or perhaps must-report provisions of medical licensure, which is again a statist problem.

      1. I think you’re probably correct. Ugh. There’s just so much wrong going on in this story.

      2. I ask again, since when do doctors have au-tho-ri-tah? I’m paying you to provide a service, asshole.

  4. a Seventh Day Adventist, for whom a vegetarian or vegan diet is a part of religious beliefs

    As generally understood by the wider vegetarian community, vegetarian diets are dairy-inclusive. In the very brief research I did it appears that dairy-avoidance is not a mainstream or even recommended adventist practice.

    So, she may be a nut-job, but still did nothing wrong since she got right on that soy-based formula.

    1. Vegans exclude anything that comes from an animal, including honey, FYI

      1. Yes, I am quite well aware of that having (formerly) been vegetarian for twenty years, back before it was cool and all (no hipster, lol), and I do well understand the difference between lacto-ovo vegetarianism and veganism.

        My point was that I couldn’t find anything about Adventists being or recommending veganism. Vegetarianism, sure, but not veganism. Granted, my research was very cursory.

        1. I see; my intention wasn’t to insult your intelligence, of course. And you can see below that I was read the riot-act by some white knight on your behalf. 😛

          I’m Mormon-bait, so I know a few who are vegetarians, vegans, or have even more radical dietary restrictions beyond either of those.

          1. Why would you assume the knight is white? Huh? Why can’t it be a black knight, or a yellow knight? You disgust me.

            1. This isn’t even my final form.

      2. And level 5 vegans don’t eat anything that casts a shadow

    2. Yeah, I was looking it up and a vegetarian diet + no caffeine & other random dietary restrictions or health habits are typical for Seventh Day Adventists. So, no, a full-vegan diet isn’t necessarily a strict tenet of the religion, but if she says it’s part of her religion (and she did), I mean, that’s enough for me. (Obviously he religion bit and the vegan bit are both pretty ancillary here, but I thought it was an interesting sidenote…)

      1. I actually know a Mormon whose entire family abstains from anything “processed” in addition to the usual no meat, dairy, caffeine, sugar, etc.

        However, this gentleman, his wife, and their four children will all drink her breast milk. Smoothies in the morning are the norm.

        1. +1 does a body good

        2. I grew up Mormon in 4 different states and I have never been told that we should abstain from meat, dairy, or sugar (caffeine, yes).

          Unless you mean its a ‘usual’ practice for the family alone. Im not trying to be nit-picky, just curious if this is common Mormon behavior in some areas.

          1. I meant it was usual for that family. I’m not sure about the other members of their congregation. Their temple is here in Montana, though.

            1. Huh. I thought you were describing a family I know (here in Montana). I am unaware of breast milk thing though, and they have WAY more than 4 kids.

          2. The only mainstream list is coffee, tea, tobacco and alcohol. Cola and other caffeinated items are a subject of intense debate, with probably a majority avoiding them.

            The meat avoidance bit is actually in the text setting forth the dietary code, but most Mormons pretty much ignore it.

            Those who add to the list by avoiding other things are definitely in the minority, and are treated by other Mormons as a bit weird.

      2. Authoritarians love them some precautionary principle, except when it might be applied to their own policies.

        Supplementing breast milk with non-dairy formula? What, is she crazy?!

        Kidnapping a newborn and placing it in a foreign environment away from its mother for several formative months? Now you’re talking sense.

      3. Why does it matter if it’s part of her religion? “I don’t wanna fucking do that” is good enough for me, unless you can prove her choice is actually harming the kid, other than making him an insufferable pussy.

        1. Yeah, religion has nothing to do with whether or not this is bad. And if a religious practice was actually harming the baby in a way that warranted intervention, it would be appropriate for the state to intervene. But even then, state custody should be the last in a long list of things to do with the baby.

  5. In a just world, the final paragraph would read:

    Markham finally regained custody of her son Wednesday, after a judge threw out the Seminole County Child Protective Services’ claims. As a condition of the child’s return, Markham must now meet regularly with a state-approved pediatrician the Seminole County CPS will be dragged to a man through the streets of Sanford, scourged and cursed by the good people of Seminole County, then hogtied and slung onto freight trains headed to distant parts. In addition, the CPS division will be shuttered, its buildings razed, the land salted, and an obelisk bearing its crimes erected as a warning to other bureaucrats.

    1. Sandford Casselberry

    2. I am going to reprint ^ this^ without permission. ( If I get any remuneration I promise to send it all to you.)

      1. As Raston Bot indicates below, I may be a little unfair on CPS. The hysterical doctor and the cadre of keystone county cops can join them in forced deportation.

        1. If there’s any room left in the cattle cars let me know, I’ve got some more candidates.

  6. Foster homes are such awesome places for babies. Let’s put that doctor in one.

  7. a judge threw out the Seminole County Child Protective Services’ claims

    Never seen that before now.

    Police officers arrived at Markham’s apartment, arrested her for “child neglect without bodily harm”, and handed her son over to the Seminole Child Protective Services

    Typically CPS needs a judge to sign an order to remove the child. Maybe they didn’t have that requirement here because a medical doctor reported it first.

    The fuckface in this story is the doctor.

    1. “The fuckface in this story is the doctor.”

      Everyone but the mother and her baby.

  8. As generally understood by the wider vegetarian community, vegetarian diets are dairy-inclusive. In the very brief research I did it appears that dairy-avoidance is not a mainstream or even recommended adventist practice.

    Riven|11.14.14 @ 3:46PM|#

    Vegans…FYI

    Uh, thanks.

    1. “a Seventh Day Adventist, for whom a vegetarian or vegan diet is a part of religious beliefs”

      Did you miss the part above that?

      Also, you’re so welcome.

      1. “Did you miss the part above that?”

        You mean where the person you were replying to specifically didn’t include any reference to it, and only to vegetarians?

        No you stupid fucking cunt, I saw it just fine. Apparently you’re so fucking stupid you think NOT discussing something at all is discussing it.

        Jesus christ, just shut the fuck up.

        1. Are you two, like, married, or something?

          1. If you like your wife, you can keep your wife. Period.

          2. Are you kidding me? I don’t even have all the paperwork done for the divorce I’m going through right now!

        2. Take your meds, Mary.

  9. At some point, someone should have said, “Wait, we’re taking the child away because she’s breastfeeding him and supplementing with soy milk? What’s the problem again? Dr. Kidnap, I hereby arrest YOU, for the crime of murdering common sense.”

  10. when I was in high school journalism we did the 5w’s and 1 h. the mother’s name is less relevant to the story than the doctor’s name.

    1. The doctor’s first name is “Hero.” He saved that child from a terrible mother who did not do exactly as he said. He should be hailed.

  11. If the state kidnapped my family you’d hear speculation about any possible links I might have had with ISIS to motivate my crimes against the state.

  12. “So for the “good” of this newborn baby, he was separated from his mother for the first five months of his life. ”

    It surprises me that I never hear of child “welfare” apparatchiks being gunned down by some parent who has had their child kidnapped and harmed in this way.

    1. Louis XIV insisted noble French families maintain residence in Versailles. It made for doting, obsequious aristocrats rather than potential rivals.

    2. When I hear about parents whose children have actually died in state custody, I cannot fathom why the bereaved and aggrieved parents don’t go on a rampage. The only thing they have to lose is justice, which the state will not be providing.

  13. She’s got a pretty clear lawsuit on religious freedom grounds.

    They basically took her baby away because she didn’t want to feed her baby foods that violated her religious beliefs.
    This isn’t different from a doctor demanding that a Jewish mother feed her baby pork, and seizing the kid if she doesn’t.

    1. Not feeding your child bacon IS child abuse, you know.

    2. It’s sad that supernatural beliefs are grounds for a lawsuit whereas free association and parental rights are not. Heaven forbid there ever be rational grounds for a suit against state power.

      1. True.
        If she was just a vegan for totally secular moral reasons her case would be weaker.

        Bizarrely, it’s only when you can cite a fictional entity delivering you instructions and threatening you will torment in hell does the state let you off the hook.

        Still, it’s nice to have SOME sort of sphere free from the governments grubby grasp.

    3. Fuck her religious beliefs. They don’t override her child’s right to a healthy life.

  14. They’re just putting Melitha Hawwis Pewwy’s theories about shild rearing into action:

    “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities” – Melitha Hawis Pawwy

  15. It seems that when Markham didn’t show up at the hospital, her doctor had called the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

    Also, in addition to “never call the cops unless you want someone to end up dead, beaten to a pulp, or in jail (possibly all three)”, I think we need to add “never see a doctor unless you’re or your loved one is on your/ their deathbed.” Jesus tit-fucking Christ.

    1. Jesus titudder-fucking Christ

  16. Even on the most generous interpretation, I can’t see how the actions of the government are justified.

    It’s true that someone could be engaged in religious practices that are harmful to their child. I’ve heard of vegans trying to feed their cats vegetarian cat-food.

    But AFAIK nobody even presented medical evidence that the child would be harmed by using soy-based formula in place of milk-based. They just assumed that because she didn’t show up for an appointment that she wasn’t feeding her baby properly. And then, beyond all reason, held the child for 5 months.

  17. Baby Becomes Briefly Underweight, Mom Loses Custody for Five Months

    What is it about “Your Children Belong To Us” don’t you understand?

    /Da State

  18. I’d be bringing a pillow case full of soap bars to the next checkup.

    1. 3-4 bars is optimum. You just cant generate and speed when the pillowcase is full. Swing speed is key.

      1. shit, ANY, any speed. I never learned to type and they fed me animal milk.

  19. It seems that when Markham didn’t show up at the hospital[…]

    Don’t go to a hospital. Unless you’re holding your guts in from a knife fight or something, DON’T GO TO A HOSPITAL.

    1. ^THIS^^

      1. Good. Please die because you’re too stupid and paranoid to go to the hospital.

        It rids your genes from the human gene pool. That’s a good thing.

        1. Hi Mary. Take your meds.

  20. Upon telling this to the doctor, he ordered her to take the baby to the hospital, where staff could give the infant the dairy formula.

    Under what authority could a doctor ORDER her to do anything?

    1. The doctor is obligated by law to report a potential case of neglect or abuse if he or she suspects it is happening.

      Which is why NEVER GO TO A HOSPITAL FOR ANYTHING, unless you have your tibia sticking out of your skin or something.

      1. Yeah, see I can kind of understand why the doctor might report to the police when she didn’t show up. But once they determined she was using a soy-based formula, and that was medically ok, they should have returned the child. They shouldn’t have kept the baby for 5 months.

      2. Isn’t great to live in a society where all sorts of innocuous institutions have been co-opted to become state enforcers?

        1. We’re all merely sticks held together in a bundle.

      3. Ah. So, no authority. “Order” implies legitimacy. What the Doctor did was extort her into going to a hospital, and then follow through on the threat when she did not give in to his extortion effort.

  21. Why is this article defending this misfit moron?

    Her baby needed nourishment, so she ignored doctors for religious reasons.

    1. Why? To stimulate the manufactured outrage of cheerleaders for petty tyranny–submissive little people like you.

  22. This makes no sense. Seventh Day Adventists are not vegans. They are Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians. They consume dairy. The woman is a flake. As long as babies are nursing, they should not be given a vegan diet unless there are food allergies.

    1. so. fucking. what?

  23. “Inch by inch little by little we will take over your life”
    New Hippocratic oath? Either this doc is a maniac or being a maniac is what the job regulations and CYOBing demands of him. Unfortunate either way

  24. The author refers to a common myth when she suggest that this newborn might develop an “attachment disorder” as a result of being separated from its mother.

    There is only one attachment disorder: its proper name is Reactive Attachment Disorder, and it is a rare condition caused by extreme deprivation/abuse. Newborns and young infants who get reasonably attentive care from anyone are not likely to developing RAD or even attachment issues.

    To learn about this dangerous myth:

    “RAD vs. AD”
    http://www.childrenintherapy.o…..order.html

    On another matter, it is extremely difficult for children given a vegan diet to get the nutrition they need — especially enough protein. That would appear to also hold true for nursing mothers.

    1. And soy protein is problematic. It doesn’t have the greatest amino acid profile and comes along with the most phytoestrogens of any food.

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