Temecia and Rodney Jackson of Texas are requesting the return of their newborn baby, who was seized by child protective services in Dallas last month after a home birth.
“We just want to notify the world what’s going on,” Rodney Jackson said during a press conference last week, calling the removal of the couple’s daughter, Mila, a “kidnapping.”
According to Yahoo News, Texas CPS declined to comment on the accusations when reached by Yahoo News. “Due to CPS cases being confidential by state law, we cannot comment on specific cases,” the agency said in a statement.
Mila, their third child, was born on March 21 at home with Cheryl Edinbyrd, an experienced midwife who claims to have delivered over 100 successful childbirths.
“It was a beautiful birth. She was a perfect 6 pounds, 9 ounces,” Temecia Jackson said during the press conference.
Mila’s parents took her to Dr. Anand Bhatt, their family doctor for the last decade, for a newborn checkup a few days after she was born. The Jacksons have two elder children.
“Within that visit, we were told, ‘Everything is good, she looks great, the only thing is she has jaundice.’ A couple of hours later, the pediatrician called my phone and wanted us to admit Mila to the hospital,” Temecia said.
Jaundice occurs when the blood contains an excess amount of bilirubin. “For most babies, this is not a big deal, it clears out,” Tiffany Green, an associate professor in the obstetrics and gynecology department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Yahoo News.
“But for a certain small subset of babies, high levels of bilirubin can lead to brain damage, including cerebral palsy and other illnesses.”
For the Jacksons, this was a common diagnosis, “Many of our friends and family have had jaundice. So we left that visit thinking everything was fine,” Temecia said.
Mila had a bilirubin level of 21.7 milligrams, according to Bhatt. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, any amount beyond 20 milligrams requires therapy based on Mila’s age.
According to Bhatt, a high bilirubin level is “cause for a lot of concern because the bilirubin can cross the blood-brain barrier.”
“A couple of hours later [on March 24], the pediatrician called and wanted us to directly admit Mila into the hospital,” Temecia said. “We told him we would get with our midwife as she is our care provider and figure out exactly what we wanted to do.”
The Jacksons and their midwife decided that at-home treatment would be sufficient. “It can be treated at home,” Tracie Collins, CEO and founder of the National Black Doulas Association, told Yahoo News.
“Usually it’s done by sunlight or some form of phototherapy and just adequate feeding and nutrition. So breast milk and breastfeeding flush the system.”
Edinbyrd, the midwife, told CBS News that the bilirubin levels were “high but not critical.”
“Later that night, around 11:30, [the pediatrician] texted and said we are going against what he feels we should do for our child,” Temecia Jackson said. “And that if we did not admit her immediately for jaundice he was going to call CPS.”
This triggered a series of events that included a police welfare check and many visits from CPS before Mila was ultimately put into protective care.
“They [authorities] chose to arrest my husband and take his key and unlawfully come into my home and take my baby from me. When they came in and took her from me, I requested that I needed to see the paperwork,” Temecia said.
The Jacksons stated at the press conference that the paper that gave CPS reasons to take Mila had several errors.
“It had [another] woman’s name on there and it talks about this woman’s criminal history and her past two CPS cases,” Minister Dominique Alexander, president of Next Generation Action Network, a social justice organization in Texas that’s working with the Jackson family to get Mila back home, told Yahoo News. “Mr. and Mrs. Jackson [have] no criminal record and [have never] been investigated by CPS.”
Temecia Jackson said she instantly felt as if her child had been stolen from her. “My child was removed so quickly because they have this other mother’s name listed on this affidavit and she has a history with CPS,” she said.
In a statement to Yahoo News, CPS acknowledged that there were inaccuracies in the document. “Though there was an initial mistake on the affidavit, due to us being given incorrect information, it has been corrected,” the agency told Yahoo News, declining to comment further.