CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

August 4, 2011

Newborns of Two New Castle (PA) Mothers Removed Due to Poppy Seed Ingestion


CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

NEWBORNS OF TWO NEW CASTLE (PA) MOTHERS

REMOVED DUE TO POPPY SEED INGESTION

     Two mothers are suing the Lawrence County (Pennsylvania) Children and Youth Services for separating them from their newborns. They lost custody due to a positive prenatal drug test.

     Prenatal drug tests are not required by law, but Lawrence County policy allows the Children and Youth Services department to obtain court orders to take newborn children from mothers who test positive for opiates.*

     Elizabeth Mort’s lawsuit challenges the agency’s policy as unconstitutional for several reasons, including the use of 300 nanograms per milliliter as the point at which someone tests “positive” for opiates. The federal guideline is 2,000 nanograms per milliliter...

     Her case is pending before U.S. District Judge David Cercone.

      Eileen Bower’s lawsuit points to the fact that the drug screens she took as part of her prenatal care came back negative, so the agency should have questioned the result of the final drug screen before taking her child away. The agency didn’t wait for a confirmation by Quest Diagnostics

     Both twenty-two year old women tested positive due to the ingestion of poppy seeds—Mort ate a poppy seed bagal (read her story at Can Poppy Seed Ingestion Affect Drug Tests?), while Bower ate a salad containing poppy seeds.

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    It’s an undeniable fact in psychology and social work—and the general public—that maternal bonding occurs during the first hours, days, weeks, and months of an infant’s life. It is probably less well known that a newborn can identify his/her mother by smell. Separating a child from his/her parent during this time can have traumatic results.

     Certainly there are cases where it is necessary to take this action. Certainly the human service workers are stressed out due to a work overload, a caseload that precludes making good decisions at times.

     However, there is NO excuse for the Lawrence County Children and Youth Services removing a child from his/her mother without SOME investigation. And once this was done due to a positive drug test due to diet, it shouldn’t have happened a second time.

     What if these mothers wanted to breastfeed their newborns? That opportunity was also removed.

     This agency had better shape up. It had also better review its policies, both written and non-written. Perhaps it should be brought up on charges of child abuse, because removing an infant from his/her parent unnecessarily is child abuse.

     I hope that the lawsuits provide some justice for these two mothers who lost their valuable time with their newborns, time that can never be retrieved.

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ADDITIONAL READING:

Can Poppy Seed Ingestion Affect Drug Tests?

CHILD ABUSE DEFINITIONS

ARE YOU PUNISHING OR DISCIPLINING YOUR CHILD?

CHILD ABUSE CREATES VICTIMIZATION

CHILD ABUSE AND SCRIPTURE

Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath

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