All Because of a Bruise: Our Nightmare with CPS

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As my son’s 1st birthday quickly approaches, I find myself reminiscing quite a bit on the last year, my first as a mom.  As cliché as it sounds, I never realized how much I could love another human until my son was placed in my arms. From that moment on, I knew my life was forever changed. All of a sudden, there was this life that depended on me 100%.

While the last year has been one of the most rewarding of my life, there was a dark cloud that hung over our family for part of it. There was a good 3 months that my husband and I lived in constant fear that our son was going to be taken from our home. These few months were the worst of my life.

As a new mom, I worried about EVERYTHING and leaned heavily on my pediatrician’s office, calling them frequently to ease my mind. This also resulted in many last minute appointments to be told everything is fine. This whole “motherhood” deal was new to me, I felt like I was doing the best thing for my son by consulting in experts, as I had no idea if the amount of spit up was cause for concern or if what I was seeing during diaper changes was normal.

So one day when I noticed a bruise on his bottom that I had no explanation for nor did my husband, I became Dr. Google and found some terrifying reasons as to why he could be bruising. As a concerned parent I called my pediatrician’s office like I had all the other times before and was given an appointment later that day. An hour or so later, the nurse called me back and explained she had spoken with the doctor and he suggested heading to our local emergency room so they could run some tests. I gladly obliged, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to make sure my son was OK, and that is where it all started.

For the next 4-5 hours I answered question after question, offered up past doctor visits and concerns I had had. I gave the doctors everything I had, to give them the complete picture of his health history; I wanted to make sure we had the best chance of figuring out what was going on. After all the questioning, a doctor came in and explained that all my son’s medical tests had come back clean and they could not find anything medically wrong with him to explain the bruise. I felt relieved that my son was given a clean bill of health, that was until she went on to explain she had also called the local police department and child protective services to investigate further since nothing medical came up during his tests. I was instantly in tears.

How could anyone think that I or my husband could EVER do anything to hurt this precious child?

The rest of the day is a terrible blur of being questioned and accused of doing harm to our son. That evening both my husband and I had to separately speak with detectives and explain our relationship, our family, our household, anything and everything. A social worker from CPS came and put a safety plan in place requiring that both my husband and I have 24/7 supervision when caring for our son. Thankfully my mom was able to drop everything and move into our home to provide this supervision so our son wouldn’t be removed. This meant she needed to wake up all throughout the night with me when I nursed our son, changed his diaper, played with him, basically had ANY interaction with him whatsoever. 

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We lived in constant fear after that. Fear that CPS or the police would show up and take our son away. Fear that we would be criminally charged with abuse and neglect.

With the help of our family, my husband and I hired separate attorneys to represent us. For the next month, we complied with everything required of us as they conducted their investigation. This included surprise visits, interviews, and additional doctor visits and testing to be done for our son. We did it all. There was too much at risk, there was no way we were going to take any shortcuts and risk losing our son. When the month finally came to an end, we were feeling pretty good about everything. The social worker showed up to discuss their findings. She explained that after the 30 day investigation they could not offer any explanation into what happened or who caused the bruising. We thought this was good news.  That was until she served us with court summons and explained that she was placing our son into foster care because they felt he was still at risk because they couldn’t identify who caused the bruise. We were devastated. Up until this point, we had been given every indication that this would be over after the investigation concluded. Thankfully, my family was able to set up and be the “foster parents” for our son. We were allowed to stay with him, as I was exclusively breast feeding, but could no longer stay at our home; we needed to be at my parent’s house.

We finally caught a break.

Two days later, we appeared before a judge who, after reviewing all the material submitted by the state and CPS, found no reason our son required removal from our home. We were allowed to take him back to our house but agreed to continue the 24/7 supervision until our next court appearance.

Following further court dates, thousands of dollars in attorney fees, and countless sacrifices made by our families, we did get our happy ending and our family remained intact. While this all went on we kept very quiet about what was going on. I can’t speak for my husband, but I felt ashamed and humiliated.

I was in disbelief that something like this could happen to us. I was afraid to call the doctor and ask any more questions. I was afraid that from now on, anytime we saw a doctor they would look in our son’s medical history and see “suspected child abuse/neglect” in the file and we wouldn’t be taken seriously. I was worried that he wouldn’t get the best care possible because the first thing anyone would look for would be abuse. I was angry for all those months we lived on eggshells and how it interrupted our lives. I was angry that even after a positive outcome we couldn’t go back and get any of that time as a family back.

It’s been about 6 months since this whole nightmare ended and I do breathe a little easier. I still find myself worrying about being able to explain any and all bruises our son has and am hesitant to call the doctor. I no longer look forward to his routine checkups or any interaction we have with his doctors.

But none of that really matters to me anymore. All that matters is our son is here, with us, at home.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Alexa, I am so so sorry this happened to you. With a heart of gold like yours, I can’t even begin to imagine what you felt & still feel from this. This exact situation is why I fear every tiny bump and tumble from my rough and tough little boy! My hope for you is that you have found peace! You know you’re a fantastic mom & you have a community of momma’s who also agree! 🙂

  2. OH MY WORD!!!! Just craziness … so sorry that you and your family went through all that! It’s a tough pill to swallow when you hear about crazy cases like this and then other cases that were actual abuse that weren’t taken seriously. Props to you mama for holding your cool and handling it like a pro! Proud to call you friend!

    • How awful!!!!!! My heart is with you. What a terrible thing that doctor did to you!!!! The fact that you were worried about his bruise and trying to figure it out should have been proof enough that you are a caring loving parent! So sorry you had to go through that…. soooo sorry.

  3. So sorry to hear about this! Something similar happened to us and I worry that these kind of callous calls to CPS from doctors cause a lot of grief for families. Obviously many CPS cases are justified. But some are not. If doctors can file a CPS report for a bruise that leads to a months long investigation, what’s to prevent them from doing so for other relatively minor things that may lead to unresolved CPS cases? Shouldn’t there be more accountability for the people who file these reports?

  4. We also got CPS called on us, so I don’t imagine what you went through, I can say I almost “know” what you went through. Our third child, a 2 month old, was having what turned out to be extreme gastric reflux. My sister, a pediatrician, thought it might be West’s Syndrome – a rare seizure disorder, and when my daughter choked during an episode of the reflux, we called the ambulance. We went to the ER where they refused to do an EEG but pressed us to do a CT scan; we refused this because my sister said it was totally unnecessary. My sister, for her part, pressed us to get a lumbar puncture, but we told her no because we didn’t think she had meningitis. Anyway, finally they did the EEG – and told us no seizures for 2 days. Then, at the end of 2 days, after knocking out the camera feed, and not being able to pull up his own data, the neurologist refuses to let us go home because of a “1 second suspected seizure” unless we start drugging our infant with phenobarbital right there. We asked for a 2nd opinion and the hospital suddenly becomes hostile. They say we can only go to their sister hospital by ambulance, even though my daughter is stable. We say we want to go to an equally distant hospital a state away where we birthed her (a very rich place where they don’t bully patients in general). They say we have to go AMA and get a referral from our pediatrician, so we do that. We also refused to put her on Previcid because they said we could either do that or wait for her sphincter to come in – if it was just gastric reflux. Anyway we make an appointment with a top not neurologist for a 2nd opinion, and they want the data from the original EEG. When we call the hospital to get it, at THIS point they call CPS, because they realize they lost most of the camera feed, and probably also half the data. They claim to CPS that I caused the data loss because I turned off the light to sleep on the bed adjacent to my daughter (whom they also berated me for breastfeeding during shots). Thus starts our 60 day investigation (they claim it was 45 days but, they lied about the start date – CPS and the hospital I am sure are working together on this). Anyway, our lawyer neighbor tells us to just be calm because the hospital is probably just worried we will sue and being proactively aggressive. Anyway, just to see what they submitted to CPS, I ask for the medical records. They start scrambling at this point and put together a FIVE HUNDRED page document for our 2 day stay; it starts out with a “mistake” saying that we are chainsmokers who refuse antismoking medication (we’ve never smoked in our lives). This is somehow in my DAUGHTER’s records by mistake. Anyway, then a few paragraphs down they tell 3 different stories, and at the end of each paragraph “parents do not vaccinate.” They then call our pediatrician and he violates HIPPA to tell them about my middle son’s slow growth issue (he dropped height %, we still have no idea why after gastro and endo panels). He advises me to just let things go through, because he sure as heck is not going to stand up against the hospital, and further patronizes me saying that my milk supply might go down if I don’t somehow deal with things in a less anxious fashion. When we have our 2nd opinion, our daughter as a gastric reflux episode in front of the daughter and he immediately recognizes it as such and said from what he got of the EEG data he doesn’t see any seizures either; and that he will drive down and testify in court for us if it goes to court. I have to take these records in myself because CPS’s fax machine supposedly broke. Only then do things finally end. Meanwhile my pediatrician sister is defending the hospital and CPS the entire time. My former best friend, whose wife is a social worker defends the right of CPS to exist even if our personal lives have gotten trampled by it. My other friends says “well this is what you get trying to be your own doctor and your own lawyer!” Only this other neurologist really stepped out, and my other Mom friend who was horrified by the ongoings. I think for the entire 60 days…I don’t even know if I slept. I kept thinking “they’re going to take the kids”, including possibly my breastfeeding infant daughter. My husband had just left the hospital after a near fatal 10 day stay for acute pancreatic attack from gallstones (we never drink, he just apparently has incredibly bad luck) – this happened 1 day after our daughter was born. So it was an extremely rough time. I still have PTSD from all of this. The neurologist said “I don’t blame you if you never trust doctors again after this” and you know what, I tried to tell him of course it won’t impact my trust – but, it does. I think the worst was going to our son’s useless “well” visit; my other son got sick waiting in the waiting area (and he is just now recovering), and the whole time the pediatrician ALL she wanted to know was whether we vaccinated or not AND gave our son milk with vitamin D. I explained to her that I regularly expose our kids to the sun so they can get it directly through sunshine, but she insisted that it could *only* effectively be gotten through milk. I later learned the milk lobby is deep into medicine, and that is how they have gotten this “milk is great for you” thing going. Worse, ultra high pasturized milk has been linked to gastric reflux in infants! (They fry the milk for a few seconds IN THE CARTON – so you can’t even make cheese out of it, it’s literally almost fried on some level, which also denatures the proteins) So this pediatrician was basically giving me the worst advice possible, that probably caused my daughter’s gastric reflux to begin with. I don’t think these are just “misunderstandings.” If you question your doctor – they will come after you. If you don’t subscribe to their filthy lucre, they will come after you. I pray every day that they come to repentance for the stress they are putting on parents, and, in my better moments, I hope they don’t have to pay eternally for the horrific things they are doing for money. Money, it’s the root of all evil – and I fully believe every doctor out there needs to be publicly shamed into repenting for the crimes they are committing on a daily basis.

    • I am so sorry this happened to you and your family.

      While I appreciate that there are systems in place to help children who are being abused (it seems like a daily occurrence I’m hearing about a new case of child abuse on the news) too often, resources are being used to chase these types of allegations that are false.

      I hope your situation resolved with the best possible outcome and your family had been able to move forward.

      Up until recently, I’ve finally been able to start to trust doctors again. It took us a few tries to find the right person but I feel very relieved to be genuinely be listened to and trust she has our best interests at heart.

      Sending love to you and your family.

  5. I can relate to this so much. Our daughter fell off the bed when she was 8 months old and my husband was changing her diaper. We took her to the ER TERRIFIED for her and they accused my husband of ” throwing her on the ground.” She also lived in fear for months and my husband had to live outside of our home. It was a living nightmare and we had to spend 10K on lawyers to have it all cleared up. The doctor that we say ” Dr. Knox” here in Madison was well known for falst allegations and she is still in practice. EVIL and almost tore us apart.

    • Erin,

      The more I’ve told our story, the more I hear this is all too common and happens more than I would have ever thought.

      Over 2 years later and I am still bitter. All the time, money, resources we had to use to please our case and fight for our son we won’t ever be able to get back.

      I hope that your situation resolved with the best possible outcome and that you’ve been able to move forward as a family.

      Sending you and your family so much love.

  6. I’m literally going through the same exact thing except more “brusing” on his arms…. I took my son in to childrens hospital on Sunday and this has been a whole nightmare of my fiance and I. We have been the only ones caring for our son..
    They claim that these are “pressure bruises” because they had founs nothing medically wrong with our 7 week old infant.. We now have to take a stress voice test for the police department for them to figure out if my fiance and I are lying. AVOICE STRESS TEST! were as stressed as can be.
    Wed never lie about something like this… I’ve been the the system as a minor. Why on gods green earth would I hurt my son then lie about it. I know it happens regularly, but just why?! Its only been a few days and my son is olaces with my grandmother and my sister. We have to have 24/7 supervision with our son.
    I will tell you now, my son is my little angel. Literally. I conceived my son 2 short weeks after my father had died. I’d never put him in harms way. I constantly call the Dr office as a worried mom. Shoot, I even took him into the er for a diaper rash! Simply because I didnt know what it was.
    If I was hurting my son I would not hace sat at the local emergency room for 2 hours then go all the way to childrens in Milwaukee (with no ride home since I nor my fiance drive)and sit there for 8+ hours to figure out what the hell is going on.
    We still have no clue except that we are being accused of child abuse.
    I can’t afford a lawyer but a public defender will be involved and were refusing to do anymore questioning with police with out our legal services present.
    They want you to take your child in asap for something we notice is wrong and they are so quick to accuse us of child abuse but apparently it was “medically diagnosed” as child abuse.
    My fiance, my grandmother and I plan on getting a second opinion. Because a bruise would not lighten up in the same day we found them. They would not xlear up in 2 days. In an I can’t that small, they would be there for some time. Turn yellow or purple. But no these “bruises” are fading away! Fading!
    But when my social worker had to take him back to children’s to get a retake of an xray for a possible broken femur ( yes they accused us of breaking our sons femur for hours and hours to find out its not broken) she brought him back with new and more “bruises”. So can I accuse my social worker of abuse because she was the last person with him before these “bruises” appeared.
    Im ferrious, I’m hungry, I’m hurt, I’m lost. I just want my son back home with me. I adore my little man to all extents. I miss him so much.

    • Katie,

      I am SO incredibly sorry you are going through this right now. Your story does sound very similar to mine.

      It breaks my heart to know you are separated from your son but I am so grateful your grandma and sister are there to help. I know it’s not the same as having you and your fiancé caring for him but I’m sure they love him very much and he (and you and your fiancé) need as much love and support as you can get right now.

      This is a hard road to travel down but try to keep your head up and keep your cool when it comes to dealing with the social workers, police, etc.

      Your little boy needs you and unfortunately the ball is moving and you now need to “play the game” to get through.

      I’m thinking of you and your family and hoping for the best possible outcome as quickly as possible.

      Thank you for reading my story and for sharing yours with me. Sending you lots of love.

  7. The medical profession needs to be held more accountable. This happened to my family when I was instructed by our Pediatrician to take my middle school age Daughter to a psychiatrist for anxiety. She is also having difficulties with her period. She was not able to give me a referral. I searched very thoroughly. First visit, I was asked by the shrink to step out. I trustingly obliged. When we walked out of the office, my Daughter expressed how relieved she felt as she innocently followed my advisement to open up. Next day the social worker from cps is calling with allegations. My daughter’s primary care doc/pediatrician was never contacted. Her info was in their records. This guy only spent one hour with my child and in that time passed judgment on my family to subject us unfairly to months of scrutiny.
    My heart was in the right place. When I was growing up, medical care for women’s health issues and anxiety were inadequate. I thought times have changed. I will never trust doctors again. We will wait until she 18 to revisit if necessary.
    I admire your professional and kind high road to all this. I’m not there. I want to push back and see change.

  8. In 2016 I had my daughter. I lived with her father and we were coming together as a family. My daughters father wasn’t one to get up with the baby at night so that fell entirely on me. Our daughter was our bundle of joy…dad worked full time so during the day I would care for her as well while he worked. He was more of a help out while I cook dinner or grocery shop kind of guy but never mean, never abusive. One day I contacted my mother via phone call and told her I was extremely exhausted and I just needed some sleep…she asked me if I could hang up and text her because she was at work…so I text her something along the lines of “Mom I’m so tired…I feel like today was a tough day and I feel like I can’t do anything right now. I just need sleep. Would you mind maybe keeping Harper (my daughter) for a few hours while I rest?” She was delighted to do so. So delighted that she offered to keep her overnight so I could “get things done and just rest.” Oh and for the record my daughter was about 3 months at this point and I’d never asked anyone for help..never complained..never just pawned her off.. I was happy..dad was happy…I just was tired. Next day I get a call from social services wanting to come investigate our home and us… my mom called them and said I was “too tired to care for Harper.” Turned out that text she asked me to send was a set up because that was what she used for her “proof.” I immediately went to pick up my daughter and we came home and were met by a social worker. Long story short for 6 MONTHS we were investigated. They couldn’t find anything on us but kept sticking around “in case.” We had a huge home, money, love, no criminal background or background if any kind, everything my daughter needed, no abuse to her or us, no drugs or alcohol, nothing. They wasted 6 months investigating us…admitting after 1 week there was no case but they kept sticking around JUST “to be sure.” There are kids out there being abused. And they wasted all that time on us. Needless to say I see nothing good in them. Their priorities are screwed up. Now every time I go to my child’s pediatrician I get talked to like I’m some kind of abuser. The pediatrician doesn’t know the whole situation they just see social services was called in 2016. Crap like this ruins ones reputation and wastes valuable time, I’m so sorry you went through what you do. The system is rigged.

  9. This same exact thing just happend to us but our sons doctor was on our side and said our son wasnt being abused but they wouldnt go but what our doc said they wanted a second opion so they made us go to their abuse and negelct doctor and he stated that the bruise came from a spanking or a ojbect that day they came and removed our babies when that’s not where the bruises came from our son is very clumpys he falls alot hes 2 years old and very hyper well anyways for the past month we been working with him on potty training and he hated it he would through the biggest fit and flop up and down on his potty chair mind you this potty chair is all plastic we told cps thats how the bruises acured also told them we had a video to prove it not one time did they ask for the video they went by the picture they had and what their doctor said mind you are son came out with something low on his test results stating why he bruises so easily and that he wanted some more testing done but now that his was removed we dont even know if hes getting these testing done we did everything cps told us to do and they did this to us but we are in the process of fighting for our boys back but if you have any tips on what can help us to get them back quicker would be great my baby is 4 months old and our other one is 2 they didnt have one concern for the baby just out 2 year old please feel free to email me at [email protected]

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