Back when we were expecting my oldest son, I really wanted a homebirth. I had been knocked out for my daughter’s birth and I really wanted to experience my next birth fully. Sadly, it was not to be. I was eventually convinced that the risk of passing on the hepC virus was greater with vaginal birth, than with a cesarean. Though deeply disappointed, it mattered to me not to pass on the virus (which I only recently was cured of). During the pregnancy, I became a member of the Friends of Missouri Midwives because midwifery was illegal in Missouri and they were working hard to get midwives accredited in my state.
This is why a recent story about a Black couple caught my attention. You can read the latest in The Guardian at this LINK>‘Family policing system’: how the US criminalizes Black parenting. Temecia Jackson told the story of the moment when police officers and child protection services agents had “stolen” her baby from her Dallas home. Her story was about how her newborn baby was taken from her because she opted to follow a midwife’s recommendation over a physician’s. Dr Anand Bhatt was concerned the family had the wrong idea about the treatment he recommended. Therefore, Bhatt wrote in a letter to child protective services (CPS) indicating that he had trouble getting in touch with the family.
The story has sparked outrage across the country. The family policing system is a structurally racist apparatus that disproportionately separates Black and Indigenous children from their families, one that traces its origins to chattel slavery, according to Dorothy Roberts, a University of Pennsylvania law professor. She is also the author of Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families – and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World.
Temecia chose to give birth at home with a licensed midwife. Her daughter Mila Jackson was born on March 21st. Mila had developed a severe case of jaundice. The family chose to pursue the treatment recommended by Dr Bhatt at home with their midwife. Mila remains in a foster home. The family’s next hearing has been delayed until April 20th.
I believe I have previously written about another case in this blog. That would be the one related to Bianca Clayborne and Deonte Williams’s five children. Tennessee authorities “kidnapped” their children in February after a highway police officer stopped the family as they drove to Chicago for a funeral and found a small amount of marijuana in their car. The couple has since regained custody of their children but the kids spent more than a month and a half traumatized in foster care.
Roberts believes that the inequality in enforcement actions is due to the racial stereotyping of Black families, who are seen as unfit to take care of their own children. Black families are disproportionately impoverished and therefore encounter a child welfare system that, Roberts added, was designed “to handle the problems and struggles of impoverished families and to handle them in a very punitive and a cruel way by accusation, investigations and separation – and in many cases, termination of parental rights.” Temecia Jackson and her family’s conflict with their doctor in Texas about their newborn’s medical treatment raised a similar question about whether the Black parents’ decision-making – to choose at-home care instead of hospital care – had been devalued, Roberts added.
I would note here also that my grandson had jaundice after birth and was successfully treated AT HOME using phototherapy. This is treatment with a special type of light (not sunlight) which is used to treat newborn jaundice. The light makes it easier for the baby’s liver to break down and remove the bilirubin from the baby’s blood. Phototherapy aims to expose the baby’s skin to as much light as possible.