Is the Erica May Rengo Case a Hoax?

Baby Levi
Baby Levi, Erica’s oldest son

About three years ago, there was a news story that caught the social media world by storm. “Habiba” was a homeless nursing mother whose baby was taken away from her. You can read more about that heart-breaking case here. I was quite surprised to find that the google search term “Is Habiba a Hoax” sent thousands of web surfers to our blog. I ended the post with these sentiments:

For the sake of argument, if this is a hoax, it’s one I’d be proud to be duped by: protecting the rights of mothers and babies everywhere.

So now, here we are again with the story of Erica May Rengo, a home-birthing, breastfeeding mama of three in Washington. Erica had her children taken away from her by Child Protection Services. There’s not much news coverage of the case yet, aside from this article on Medical Kidnap. At the end of the article, readers are encouraged to call or email the mayor, which I did. The office said they had received hundreds of calls and were going to be in touch with CPS regarding the case. (Erica and Cleave go to trial on Dec 2nd)

Some people are questioning the validity of the information in the article, the omission of facts, and the entire story in general. As I said in Habiba–it’s true: we don’t have all the facts! Of course we don’t. Do we ever? But I think that’s missing the point in this instance. I always want to do the best with what I have. And what I have is a story that tugs at my heart.

However, it’s not up to me to have the facts. I’m not a trained CPS professional. I’m not a judge hearing the case, or a lawyer presenting it. This isn’t a charity that I’m sending money to, or an organization I’m devoting time to. BUT what I can do, I want to. Like, calling a governor’s office to ask him to please investigate, (immediately!) and if the facts remain as presented in the article, to reunite the Rengo family as soon as humanly possible? Maybe there are additional details that will come out, and there are other avenues that would be better for this family before reunification. I don’t know. But I want her to have a fair investigation. Erica has twin babies and a toddler that need their mama. (The goal of CPS is to keep families intact as often as possible, BTW. So unless there are some egregious facts omitted from the article, CPS failed.)

This is a story that hits close to home. As a nursing, home-birthing mother, I relate to Erica. I feel for Erica. I hurt for Erica. And quite honestly, I find it hard to even think about how her children are doing. I imagine how mine would be without me, and it’s painful to consider. Yet, seeing the outpouring of support for this family inspires me, and shows our mama-solidarity in the face of injustice. If this story is true, imagine the difference a ten second phone call, a quick email, or even a Facebook post can make in a family’s life. And if it isn’t, I will never regret time spent helping others in good faith.

**Updated to add (11/27): For the record, I don’t believe this is a hoax. Ask my mother. I called her to talk about it – and she called the governor too. Ask my husband, every 15 minutes last night I asked him, “Could you imagine if…”, “That could have been us…”. Ask my 4.5 year old, who came in and out of the dining room as I wrote the post, watching Mommy “help another mommy.”

**************************************************************************

Megan McGrory Massaro is a mother, freelance writer, and author. She wrote The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year  to empower women to make the best choices for their families.

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149 thoughts on “Is the Erica May Rengo Case a Hoax?”

  1. I called the govenor Inslees office like the article had mentioned, The secretary said she was getting plenty of calls for this and contacting DSHS about the calls. She acts like it is a legitimate case going on… I would hate for your article to dismiss this if it is real, for if people have any reason to question its legitimacy and it is real then i would imagine that people would lose faith in trying to help out. I hope not though. I would hope it is a hoax because this story breaks my heart, but to give it the benefit of the doubt I want to say I will support them in any way possible.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I’m definitely not dismissing it. I do believe it’s real (though of course I could be wrong!), and I do believe each and every person can make a difference by supporting this mother in particular, and home birthing/breastfeeding in general! ~Megan

      1. Hi, while the story maybe based on facts, the idea that the state of Washington would use home birth against the family seems unlikely. My friend lives in Seattle and had a home birth, complete with midwife and birthing tub, paid for by medical assistance. I think there is more goubg in here than is being reported. Also, if this is just now happening, and due to the nature of CPS cases, neither the mayors office nor the governors office would have the information readily available. And even if they did, they could not divulge it.

        1. It probably wasn’t just a home birth, but an unassisted home birth. Unassisted births are not illegal but children will still be removed in some cases if someone reports them.

          1. they ARE illegal in WA State when there are multiples (twins, etc). Midwives are not allowed to assist in such births outside of a hospital.

        2. I’ve had all 3 of my babies at home in Tacoma, WA. Paid for by the state (my husband was working full time and in school full time, but our income allowed it, not to mention its significantly cheaper for taxpayers). WA is unique in that it covers home births, as long as you have a midwife. I don’t believe this mother used one. It’s not legal for a midwife to assist home birth twins in WA. The mother gets knocked into the “high risk category”. However, having said that, it’s also not illegal to have your children unassisted either. In fact, it happens all the time when mother’s can’t get to the hospital in time. It’s not a crime, and if all are well, there is no reason to force a mother to go to a hospital afterwards either.

    2. It’s been 5 days since your post. I just called Inslee’s office and they knew exactly what case I was referring to. They were very nice and thanked me for my input. I would assume they have had time to verify this information and would be informing people who call if it wasn’t real. They must be getting swamped with calls, so if this was a hoax, I’d expect them to say so.
      But like the OP said, even if it were a hoax, we’re still doing the right thing for the right reason. Injustice MUST be addressed every time it occurs, and this certainly looks like a textbook case to me.

      1. Very REAL I live here in Bellingham and there are protest out in front of courthouse. Many of us here are outraged at this!

  2. So glad you wrote about this, Megan. I, too, am very eager to hear all the facts about this, and I, too, contacted the WA governor’s office. It has been wonderful to see the outpouring of support for natural parenting and home birthing. I am very glad you took the time to share the story here.
    ~ Kerry

    1. Thanks for commenting, Kerry. It’s so hard to sort out facts, but I don’t necessarily feel like I have to here. I just know that I’d rather do something and be wrong, than sit back and regret a chance to make a difference! ~Megan

  3. Interestingly, I was visiting friends in Bellingham last week and I crossed paths with this woman. Erica is real, she was sobbing when I learned of the situation, and has for certain been separated from her 3 children. As my friend and I reassured ourselves upon learning the story directly from Erica, we told ourselves “we don’t have the full story- there must be more.” It is hard to know and I have yet to find out whether there is more to the story. But for now, the family has been separated, which is a major concern with children so young.

    1. Wow. Thanks for sharing! I did check to see if she has a FB profile, and sure enough, she does. Husband with the name Cleave, baby Levi’s picture on there and everything. Given the governor’s response as well, it’s hard to imagine this is all fabricated. I think for most who are doubting though, the issue is more with the lack of information from reliable sources.
      ~Megan

    2. Do you know how to find out if they will be doing any kind of protest at the courthouse on the 2nd to stand for the family? I would like to participate if there is something of this nature going on.

      1. Yes, I believe that is in the works. Even if you don’t hear anything else on it, show up. It will help. This hurting family needs all the support that they can get. The more people that show up, the more it shows that people will not stand idly by and watch children be snatched from their parents, and that CPS MUST be held accountable.

        1. Thank you for speaking up Megan – I too am watching this very close. I have left a voicemail to the lawyer taking this case, Stephen Pidgeon out of Everett, who’s info can be found online. I too believe this is a real and true thing going on. I obviously DO NOT believe or agree in mistreating children, but at the same time – People’s opinions and “healthy” understandings are JUST THAT – Their opinions and quite frankly ignorance to what’s really “HEALTHY” and that people, is BEST LEFT to a MOTHER. I pray for this family.

    1. Katylin, I don’t feel comfortable posting her profile. I assure you she is a real person, with real children. I was able to find it given some information on a different page. It was not searchable, but I needed the exact link, which tells me she likely wants to remain private, and wanted to prior to this incident.
      ~Megan

      1. I love in driving distance and thought to so get if she wanted support at the court house.
        Your blog casts a shadow over her issues. Why would you even suggest there’s a hoax?

        1. Fair point. I actually do not believe it’s a hoax at all, which hopefully I conveyed in this post. However, there are many people who do. In fact, the amount of hits this one post has had in 12 hours is unbelievable. And most of them are coming from the Google search terms is Erica rengo a hoax. Rather than cast a shadow for those who are supporting her, I was hoping to convince those who were not sure, that it’s worth it to get behind this case.

          1. Like myself, when people are trying to reach out and there is some information like a court address but when I FB searched both parents with their city, I could not find either.
            There is one listing for her mates name but it does not appear to be a page of a father. Not finding more information on them, and not finding a basic way to contact the couple after reading a plea for help is a little off; most have some sort of interactive page.

            Since FB allows messages it seems like a non invasive way to contact a stranger.

            BUT we all want to believe that CPS could not do this to us, to an American, to a new mom. So the story is shocking and we all feel a little unsafe.
            I feel that you are riding this by your title to funnel Google searches to your blog. That is a shame.

          2. I posted this to HELP the Rengos – to motivate people to make a call. If I were trying to funnel hits to my blog, posting my gut reactions to two big stories in the span of four years is a pretty poor strategy from a business perspective, don’t you think?) As I said in the post, I FEEL for the Rengos, and if this were me, I would hope that someone would do the same for my family. Anyone who knows me IRL, would know that I’m a mobilizer. I like to get things done, to gather people together, and in a sense, that’s what this post is about. Raising awareness of this case.
            I am conflicted about giving out Erica’s FB profile. I found it myself, with a little digging. I have sent her a message. In the chance that she responds and wants me to pass it along, I will. They do not have a FB page (which would be something more public, which I would be happy to share). I’m not sure why this is. I agree: it would give supporters the ability to have more information on how to help. But obviously they have not done so for a reason.

          3. Anytime you have an agency with almost absolute power (like cps) and that seems to have little to no oversight or scrutiny, there are going to be mistakes. They do have a mandate to investigate (side note: perhaps her running to the neighbours ‘flagged her’ as hiding something)…but I tend to side with this mother’s story. She appears to be a mom who simply favours living a holistic lifestyle, that to some may appear to be too far on the fringes for their comfort level. Trying to stay true to her morals and bring her children up with the least amount of medical intervention. I had a friend who lived almost identically that I met while in university. She gave me articles on homebirthing unattended and donating breast milk…at the time I thought it was a bit ‘out there’ (being honest) but now that I have five children, and have gone through my own mother journey, I am more in tune with raising kids naturally as well. I find her story not hard to believe at all, and that we really have all the case details. It is just a sign of our modern times where ‘different’ scares people…and making decisiosn that are not main stream may be harshly scrutinized when brought under the wrong ‘microscope’.

        2. Replying to your comment below– I facebooked them and did find them and personally messaged them.. I really would like to get involved and stand outside the courthouse in support on the 2nd. If you find out any info please let me know!! 🙂

  4. It is not the goal of child welfare to keep families together. That is what they have to say to keep the general public on their side and thinking of them as angels doing God’s work. People have no clue about the real child welfare and how things turn out till they get the knock at the door and find their lives turned upside-down. By that time, it’s too late because the general public has been conditioned to fawn over child welfare employees and the work they do while child welfare involved parents have to contend with the misplaced monster label. When you are a “monster” no one takes you seriously and everyone is quick to assume there must be more to the story, that is until the mainstream press reports on a story that includes official comments from child welfare…they can comment, they are just careful to only do it when their backs are against the wall and it helps their PR image.

    Kevin Cline
    Founder and Executive Director
    Child Welfare Reform and Family Support Association
    http://www.supportthepoorfamily.org
    Tacoma, Washington

    1. Kevin is right. One thing he didn’t explain is that hte money given to foster care families is taken out of the Social Security fund, instead of given to those who worked for it. If a state does not place for adoption a specific number of children each year, and this number doubles every year, the state loses its federal money. CPS doesn’t explain that to anyone.

      1. That’s exactly what i thought was going on..Adoption Agency! there are more and more couples not able to have kids these days..I’m wondering if there is money received for Adopting out these Kids?

    2. Kevin Cline,
      God bless you! I was unaware of anyone like you, working on the side of parents who’ve had their children stolen by the state. I just watched your movie trailer, and feel very hopeful about the potential power of the film. Although my family is not poor, my husband and I tend to be a bit different in our thinking than most other people we regularly encountered in our home state. And when I got pregnant with our son, I began having fears (perhaps somewhat intensified by hormonal changes) about something like this happening to us because of choices we’d made (planning a homebirth, planning to homeschool, etc). The birth of our son prompted us to make the move to New Hampshire to be part of the Free State Project (much sooner than we’d initially planned). I imagine your film’s screening will be in WA, but I wondered if you might consider showing it in NH. I think it would be well received here. If you are unfamiliar with FSP, please check out the website freestateproject.org. Regardless, I wish you the very best with your project. I’m so glad to hear of your work!
      -Sarah

    3. Thank~You Kevin Cline. I have been harassed by my state’s CPS due to unfounded abuse and neglect allegations made “anonymously”. We all know it’s my X husband’s current wife trying to get revenge because I exposed her father as a pedophile when he molested my daughter. 5 times she called and reported me. 5 times they did a full investigation. 5 times I was completely cleared. I am aware that I am lucky to have had 5 competent case workers. Make that 6. I was also investigated because my son was a passenger in the car his father wrecked while drinking a beer during his visitation. I wasn’t there or aware and certainly would not have allowed him to ride with his father had I known. But they showed up again, unanounced and questioned me, my other children, coworkers, teachers and administrators, friends and family. I have had the distinct feeling they were trying very hard to find a problem that did not exist. I’m checking out your website and have a feeling you’ll be hearing from me again. Thanks so much for the work you do. ☼ ♥ ☮

    4. TOUCHE KEVIN !!! DIVIDE AND CONQUER THAT IS THE ACTION !!!
      THE CORPORATE CONSORTIUM KNOWS IT IS EASIER TO CONTROL THE MASSES WITH LITTLE SUPPORT STRUCTURE !!!

    1. I naively used to believe that, too, as recently as six weeks ago. Sadly, there are cases all over the country where there are very poor reasons for taking the children. Sometimes it is as simple as somebody doesn’t like somebody. Sometimes it is retaliation for questioning a dr or asking for a second opinion. It is not humanly possible for me to keep up with all the stories that are coming in.

    2. You believe CPS had good reason to remove 3 children under 1 from their parents? For being.. what? A family that practices NATURAL remedies instead of injecting their children with drugs? They had a reason for removing 2 newborns who were establishing a breastfeeding relationship because of??? What? The fact the mother didn’t want to give birth to her children in a hospital full of germs, diseases and the like? I truly believe the taking of these children was unfounded. Yet- there are children out there who are black and blue and the state doesn’t do anything because???? Why?

  5. Also, I live in this town, know some of the CPS workers, and know some of our local foster parents. I have no doubts at all the CPS is working in the best interests of the children. Hopefully, the children can be reunited with their parents asap. But, they have to have their needs met. The parents may just need help learning to be better parents. CPS may require them to take parenting classes or take the children to the doctor regularly until they are healthy. This is a community that is very pro-homebirthing and alternative medicine. Those two things would not cause CPS to remove children. There is far more to this story, I am sure of it. The most important thing is that the children are cared for and getting healthcare they need to be healthy.

    1. Thanks for the insights, Kathy. I appreciate your commenting. As I said in the post, I’m not advocating for unequivocal reunion of the family, but “a call governor’s office to ask him to please investigate, (immediately!) and IF (emphasis added) the facts remain as presented in the article, to reunite the Rengo family as soon as humanly possible? Maybe there are additional details that will come out, and there are other avenues that would be better for this family before reunification. I don’t know. But I want her to have a fair investigation.” ~Megan

    2. Are you a social worker for the state? I ask, because you sound like the social worker we had to cross paths with, who happened to be the aunt of one of the “abusers” and you have the same name and initial. Coincidence? maybe. How do you know that CPS works in the best interest of the children? This is not true. They don’t care where the children are placed or if they are even kept together. CPS removes children all the time for no reason whatsoever. I’ve seen it first hand when a child was placed in our home and the social worker never got out of her car for over 4 months! She only asked me if we had a “bedroom” area for the child and never made sure of it. I could have been a strung out druggie, but since I have a clean background, I guess that isn’t something that they are going to even test for. This child had a blood brother and the state wasn’t even interested in keeping them together. They called it “temporary third party custody” however, when we asked for help in filing, because they gave us 2 days to do it, she said she didn’t know how to go about it….btw, there is nothing temporary about it. Nothing “volunteer” about it either, if that is the word they choose to use. After the whole case was done and over, we signed the child back over to her mother, where she belonged. Nothing was ever warranted in the removal of these 2 children.I will never, ever help on such a case ever again.

    3. Actually the children’s health has been declining since they were removed from their home. First person accounts from yesterday’s hearing said they tried to introduce health concerns but had to retract them since they started after they were removed. It looks like the only health issue that stuck was not using steroid cream for the eczema on the older babies skin. I actually want this to be a hoax because if it isn’t anyone could have this same thing happen to their family and some days it’s hard enough to sleep at night.

  6. Megan, I am sure those are CPS’s goals, to get the family reunited as soon as possible, get the kids healthy, and get the parents the support they need to be better parents. From what I know from local case managers I know, CPS here is very fair and only rarely removes kids.

    1. one would only hope so..but there have been so many other cases with no grounds to stand on that have done just this heart wrenching harm in separating families…

    2. Kathy, I understand the ambiguity of this situation, it is hard for “outsiders” as ourselves to make judgements onto a situation that has been relayed to us through a 3rd party… however, just as you feel that the CPS may be fair and may have good discernemnt, I at the same time understand that sometimes the CPS or other state social services have a lack of understanding or education of holistic health, which then a viewpoint of what is “healthy” can be misconstrued… and if the children were solely taken based off of health care reasons, the matter that might be occurring here is a lack of cultural understanding within a basis of ethnocentric views. This creates situations where alternative med. advocates begin to feel threatened that their own children could be taken away for medical choices such as opting to not vaccinate for example. Or choosing to find an alternative holistic medication instead of using conventional prescriptive medications, or choosing 2nd opinions rather than simply taking a doctors word for it… These are just examples I am throwing out here, but I do understand that there are pro vaccine advocates that feel that parents who do not vaccinate their children are “bad parents” and need to become “better parents” … the basis on which to label a parent good or bad should be pretty black and white…if there is too much subjectivity based on health belief systems, spiritual and cultural belief systems then one might question ones own udnerstanding of “what is healthy” …

      1. No one would take your children away for not vaccinating in WA state. WA state is very friendly towards alternative health care. Most all alternative types of providers can be licensed by the state and many can qualify to be insurance providers. This is a really crunchy place to live.

    3. Maybe. But there’s been a lot of this kind of “removal” lately — and I can’t see how it’s good for such small children to be removed absent some hideous maltreatment on the part of the parents. Since the incident is starting to get some media attention, why has CPD filed formal charges if things were really that bad? I mean, they already had a 10 month old … this isn’t a pair of teenagers with their first child!

  7. I find it disturbing how many people assume that CPS is in the right for kidnapping these children. My husband and I planned a homebirth with the assistance of a midwife and two doulas. However, late in my 39th week, at our final ultrasound checkup, the obstetrician said there was less amniotic fluid than she’d like to see around my son, and she seemed somewhat concerned. Not wanting to take ANY chances, we drove directly to the hospital, where they performed an emergency c-section. Fortunately, my son was born a perfectly healthy baby, but you would not believe the abuse my husband and I took from medical staff! Despite the fact that I had hired trained and certified assistants, exercised religiously throughout my pregnancy, attended regular check-ups with an obstetrician, and followed a very complicated diet to ensure my baby got all his daily vitamins, nutrients, trace minerals, protein, etc, I was treated no better than a drug-addicted street person simply because I had not planned a hospital birth! The way they spoke to me was outrageous! I cannot believe so many people accept such pigheaded arrogance from medical staff and government workers. Just because they bear these occupational titles DOES NOT MAKE THEM MORE QUALIFIED TO RAISE YOUR CHILDREN! I am sickened by some of the comments on here, and the overall sense of dutiful acquiescence to the state! Wake up, you sheep.

      1. MY new Hero also! My blood pressure is elevating reading some of the “nothing to see here – move along comments”. CPS are NOT our friends. I agree with one comment I saw that asked if the CPS involved in this case could be charged with criminal kidnapping. Taking breastfed children away from their mother SHOULD be grounds for Criminal kidnapping. If their intentions were to help the children, then provide some useful help. Don’t steal and traumatisze the babies. I’m just furious.

    1. Amen! I am from Bellingham, WA and in fact I went to the local CPS there begging for help for my toddler daughter. ….Let’s just put it this way…..They are evil. Corrupt. Unprofessional. Ego driven. And don’t give two shits about children. I was even informed a year later by someone who used to work there, that they botched my daughter’s case and lost the tape of her disclosure ON PURPOSE. They destroyed our lives. Needless to say, after years of battle in a money driven and God-complex “good ole boys” court system there, and finally just leaving everyone and everything we knew and held dear behind in order to end the insanity and move across the country to insure her safety – we continue to feel the affects every day on an emotional, physical, financial and psychological level. I have personally confirmed that Erica Rengo and her babies are real and while I still don’t know all of the details, I have reason to believe that CPS is spreading lies amongst the community in response to the article on MedicalKidnapping.com. I hope that anyone living near there will rally at the courthouse on Tuesday in support of this poor woman.

      1. Thank you for posting, Nic!! Sorry to hear about your experience. It’s a tragedy when families don’t get the help they need from the very organizations put in place to do that.

    2. Bravo! Thanks for sharing. We have elevated doctors to the height of gods in this country. We call medical practices which are thousands of years old “alternative” and praise all things pharmaceutical. If I were in your situation, (and I’m not saying this is what happened to you) I would always wonder if I were “tricked” or manipulated into that hospital C section because…well…doctors. They’ve been wrong 5 out of the last 6 times I sought their services. I am fully awake after sleeping through the first half of my life. Again, I thank you for sharing and am happy your son is healthy and well. ☼ ♥ ☮

    3. Well said. Hospitals are disease centers. Having said that, medical care is amazing in the modern world. Child birth is a normal natural process. It does not require a hospital. I used to live in the Fall City/Carnation area in the early 90s. I left WA to attend college in WY. I never went back & never intended to. The govt agencies in W. WA all left me with bad experiences. And all I was, was a divorced mother going to college who was poor. I witnessed a young man in court paying a ticket for having a different colored quarter panel on his vehicle in Issaquah. I was there because of a ticket for missing a windshield wiper on my passenger side 1950 Ford pickup (they were hard to find).
      I will never go back. But even here in ND where I live and ranch it is the same. I am also a HS science teacher and I personally witness the work of our CPS agents here. It is disgraceful. They are often nothing more than adoption mills and $$ mills for unfit foster parents. I teach these kids. I see what is going on.
      CPS agencies routinely violate the Constitutional rights of Americans. All in the name of protecting children. There is no reason to do this. Criminal acts should be investigated and proof of a crime should be needed to remove any child from their home. Not based on some ‘tip’.

      1. Wow, am I ever heartened to know there is a teacher like you! Bless you for speaking out on the behalf of your students, and on the behalf of all Americans whose rights are trampled by the tyrannical state. I hear ND is one of the better, “freer” states, but I must still encourage you to check out NH. freestateproject.org. You seem like a perfect candidate. Maybe you’ll consider joining us.

    1. Did you call them? and if so, let us know what they say. Also doesn anyone know of a group protest? I am digging to find out if there will be people standing in solidarity outside the courthouse…I think this would be something worthwhile to get involved in.

  8. I am completely in favor of parents’ rights to home birth and treat their kids minor conditions as they see fit within reason. Defining the boundaries is difficult. If this story is true certainly CPS made a serious error. However, some things you wrote are disturbing.

    Your mother, husband, and son listening to talk about a story you heard about should in NO way tell you that it is somehow true. That is just completely nonsensical. You should be skeptical, skepticism is healthy and positive, as it allows us to rely on facts.

    You should never be “proud to be duped by” something that is fake, because it means you are being manipulated. Just because the cause you’re being manipulated for is something you’re in favor of does not excuse being manipulated. People voting on laws to change things should be doing so based on facts, not outrage triggered by lies.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I think you misunderstood, though, Erik. I was not saying the case was true because I spoke about it, rather was addressing some who believed I was believing it is hoax.

  9. how can it ever be ‘best for the children’ to remove them from a breast feeding mother and put them on formula? Are they allowing the mom to regularly feed the babies? Most likely, by the time she gets them back, either she will have dried out, or they will be unable to nurse due to getting used to a bottle. The CPS person should be charged with abuse for this assault on a family unit.

  10. Never trust CPS to get the facts right. People with an agenda can and do distort evidence, suppress evidence, and even commit perjury in court to get their way. I’ve seen it happen to good families first hand.

  11. It’s time for the people to take back their rights from these abusive agencies. I live on the other side of the country, but I wish I lived in WA state. I would protest every, single day to get these babies back to their mama. The governor should be ashamed of himself for allowing this to go on as long as it has.

  12. I had a home birth with 2 licensed midwives and a doula…but did the couple in question have anyone in attendance for the home birth of their twins? If not, that is pretty reckless. We do need some sort of regulation to balance children’s wellbeing against the parental right to autonony.

    1. No. We don’t. Women have the right to birth where and with whom they choose. The government and the medical associations do not own the right to dictate the use of a woman’s birth process. That is an inherent natural right.

      1. It is true that children’s human rights are not really ingrained in our domestic laws. That is a shame and accounts for much of the dysfunction of our child welfare system. But even our current system recognizes that once a life comes into being, that life has rights to certain safeguards. This is why we have foster care. And although I love homebirths, having a licensed medical professional in attendance, such as a midwife, should be required I’m all states. Because it isn’t just about a woman’s right to autonomy. It is also about a child’s right to safety.

        1. This is quite possibly one of the most ignorant statement I’ve ever heard. Why should a “medical professional” have to be in attendance? Women have been birthing for THOUSANDS of years without the help of a doctor or midwife. The parents would likely have enough common sense to call 911 if something were wrong with one of the babies- but their is no reason that someone need to be there if everything was going smoothly. Also, she had prenatal care- just not by a doctor, and many, MANY women have unassisted home births and are later checked on my there midwife.

        2. Homebirth is very common in Bellingham and there are two out of hospital birth centers run by lovely midwives. There are many licensed midwives in town and I personally had an out of hospital birth with one of them. I know many women who have homebirthed. I personally use alternative healthcare providers for healthcare and so do many of my friends. That is why this case is so very odd to me.

  13. So then if you don’t believe this is a hoax, do the responsible thing and print a retraction or update at the source so people will know and not pass up the opportunity to assist this family. People, your govt has too much control of our freedom!

    1. I’m not sure I understand, Zelda. The title of this post was in direct response to some wording in a Facebook post with the medicalkidnap.com article in it, rather than me questioning the validity of the case. I’m not sure what you mean by printing a retraction or update at the source.

  14. MeganMassaro, very well-written piece. Thank you so much. I have heard rumors and accusations, but nowhere have I heard anything that would justify separating these breastfeeding babies from their mothers. People want to believe there is more to the story, but what I have been learning as I research these stories is that, many times, there isn’t, at least not anything more that justifies the separation. Sure, there are horrific cases of abuse and molestation out there, and I will not defend those. Those are what CPS is supposed to be for. But sadly, there is a great deal of money at stake in taking children from innocent parents, despite the trauma that it causes children and parents. Though there are good people within the system, there is also much corruption. And families, like the Rengos, are being devastated.
    As far as their FB pages, they are private. They do exist, but they want them to remain private. As far as the hearing on Tuesday, please, anyone who can go, please go. The hearing starts at 4 pm, so I would expect that it would be great for a crowd to be there by at least 3 pm. Things are in the works, but it has been a holiday weekend. Check in with HealthImpactNews.com (of which MedicalKidnap is a division) and hopefully there will be updates posted there.
    Again, Megan, thank you. God bless you.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Terri! I had a feeling they did not want their FB pages shown, which is why I didn’t give out the link. Glad I followed my gut there! Please keep us posted if there are other ways we can get involved!

  15. I also originally read about this at MedicalKidnap.com and in doing a Google search, found an entry at Snopes.com (a site dedicated to determining the validity of various stories/rumor circulating on the web).

    First, I used to work for CPS in California about twenty years ago so I have some knowledge of how “the system” works. Since that time, I’ve taken a completely different career just in case the people commenting here are tempted to “flame” me.

    In all likelihood, the legal hearing taking place tomorrow (Dec. 2) is not a trial but a child custody hearing in civil/juvenile court. I seriously doubt that the parents are being tried criminally or that charges have even been filed with the District Attorney’s office. No news story I’ve read on this case mentions police involvement at all.

    So, since the hearing tomorrow will be closed, anyone who goes down to the courthouse to support the family will not be allowed into the courtroom.

    If the facts of the case are *exactly* as MedicalKidnap.com reports, then it would be very unlikely that the children would be taken into custody and even if they were, the court would be unlikely to order the children to continue into foster care, since treating a ten-month old’s eczema with a holistic remedy doesn’t seem to satisfy the requirement for imminent danger or harm to the child.

    As far as home birth of twins without any medical assistance such as a midwife (no midwife was mentioned in the story and I don’t know what Washington state law says about midwives or if they have a licensing program for them), that’s kind of dicey. My wife gave birth to twins (this was almost thirty years ago) and if she hadn’t been at the hospital, at least one of the children would have died as her placenta abrupted from the uterine wall. One of my sons was literally drowning in blood and only an emergency C-section saved his life. If we hadn’t been in a hospital, it’s quite possible both babies and my wife would have died, so the home birth of twins (a high risk pregnancy by definition) isn’t necessarily the best option.

    That said, the MedicalKidnap.com article states that the twins were examined by a pediatrician at least once with follow-up by a home health nurse and that the only concern about the twins was that they were not gaining weight. This was supposedly subsequently corrected, so taking the children in after the fact does nothing to mitigate the original risk of giving birth to twins at home. Children are taken into custody, not to prevent past abuse since that’s impossible, but to prevent future abuse/neglect based on past abuse/neglect, and the aforementioned article said that no other apparent risk factors existed.

    Now keep in mind, we’re only getting one point of view, the parents’ through a website that seems to have a particular political and social bias, so at best the story is slanted through an understandable lack of perspective, and at worst information may be deliberately inaccurate or incomplete. Am I saying that CPS social workers or agencies can’t go haywire? No. There are any number of cases that have been reported nationally in recent years and decades where a CPS agency has either removed children for less than adequate reasons (and subsequently was ordered to return the children) or failed to sufficiently monitor children who were removed and then returned to the home who were later harmed or even killed by the parent(s).

    In my own experience, removing children from the home is the last resort because even under the best of conditions, children almost never understand why they have been taken from their parents and the almost always have adverse emotional and physical responses to foster care. You remove children basically because it’s the lesser of two evils. That’s why this case makes no sense. Based on what little I know, I think it might be somewhat advisable to have voluntary CPS involvement given what we have been told, but unless other facts that significantly elevate the risk to these children are being responded to by CPS, I have no idea why they were removed.

    The Snopes.com story did say, and it was also reported at MedicalKidnap.com, that there were other allegations of abuse, but no details were given except that the mother denied them. That a person denies an allegation does not automatically mean it didn’t happen, but since we don’t know what those allegations are, we can’t reasonably comment on them here in social media. As I mentioned above though, it seems highly likely that the story told at MedicalKidnap.com doesn’t relate the entire story, either because they don’t have all the facts, or because they chose not to disclose them.

    We can armchair quarterback this case and many others like it, but we’ll never know everything that’s going on because CPS and the civil/juvenile court are legally required to keep that information confidential. That’s one of the reasons it’s easy to “demonize” CPS. They can never tell their side of the story.

    The saving grace is that the parents will be legally represented, the children will be assigned legal representation independently of the parents, and there’s a judge to evaluate all of the evidence and who has the authority, if the evidence warrants, to return the children to their home, with or without CPS involvement.

    I know there’s a tremendous temptation to react emotionally to this story. What parent wouldn’t. However, the judge isn’t going to be evaluating this situation based on emotion, but on the evidence and on the law, which requires facts, not supposition.

    Sorry for the long comment, but I felt it was important to present this point of view.

    1. Unfortunately where I live, CPS removes children as soon as there’s any kind of report, and then investigates while the children are in foster care. I have first hand experience with this. My ex was constantly calling on me for his amusement. The workers would remove the kids, and then the judge would order they had 72 hours to investigate or return them. They were always returned, except one time when the worker just decided to keep them for a month. When the judge was furious at her for keeping them more than 72 hours, she sweetly told him she thought he said 30 days instead of 3. It was a bunch of bull, because he said 72 hours specifically, not 3 days. All reports were unfounded and they finally got wise to my ex’s games, but it took almost 2 years of them removing and returning the kids. The latitude given to social workers in some states is just ridiculous.
      Personally, I commend you for leaving the profession.

      1. Assuming what you’re saying is true Kristina, then the CPS profession has changed radically in the past 20 years. It’s also true that different CPS agencies have different reputations and methods of operation, at least within the federal guidelines provided each state and then down to the counties, so some agencies may be more “heavy-handed” than others. I’ve certainly experienced that with different law enforcement jurisdictions.

        Prior to my work as a CPS investigator, I spent some time working on the CPS reporting hotline and I agree that divorced or divorcing couples tended to use CPS as a tool to punish the other spouse/ex-spouse. As I recall though, a lot of those accusations were screened out and reports were only taken and assigned for investigation if there was an allegation that met the legal definition (as opposed to people’s “feelings”) of child abuse and neglect.

        However, even if investigated, the investigating social worker still has to find evidence substantiating the allegations. I remember once I investigated allegations made by ex-wife on her husband, who turned out to be a high ranking police officer. I talked with the kids, with the step-mom and with the dad and it was all fabricated. People who get divorced can become very bitter and say all kinds of things to hurt their ex. Unfortunately, children end up being caught in the middle.

        As I mentioned in my previous comment, while I’ve come across the occasional social worker who had an axe to grind, most of us just wanted to do our investigations, close the case if there was no evidence of harm to the kids, assign the case for voluntary case management where a social worker would help provide services to the family to keep the child(ren) in the home and reduce risk if necessary, and involve the courts and foster care system only if there was significant or imminent danger to the kid(s).

        Actually, working investigations was never a “problem” job for me. It was much harder working permanency planning and adoption. I agree that foster care is not optimal and children removed from the home for more than a few days or a few weeks almost always suffer because of it, But there are families who chronically abuse drugs and provide no care for their children, there are dads/step-dads who sexually abuse children, and there are many other kinds of situations where the lesser of two evils is to remove children from the custodial home and place them in foster care rather than allow them to stay in a home where they will be further neglected or injured.

        Any time a government agency becomes involved in or interferes with family life, it’s going to be problematic, but society also has a responsibility to care for children if parents fail to provide such care. I have no idea what’s happening in the situation currently under discussion and I doubt I’ll ever know. The only reason I commented here was to attempt to illustrate that there are always two sides to a story. So far, we’re only getting one side and most people are emotionally reacting to that one side.

        1. First, reports here can be completely anonymous, so they have no way of knowing if it’s an ex reporting or not. I only knew it was him because he’d rub it in how much power he had over the system. And second, I think much of our problem here may be that our county doesn’t pay squat, so we end up with all the fresh college graduates who feel puffed up with power. They then exert that power whenever they get the chance. After 6 months to a year, they move on to counties who pay more, and find that they aren’t as all-powerful everywhere. (I’m friends with a social worker- one who never was involved with our family.) I believe my situation was a combination of these things. You’re right; if they had known he was my ex they probably would have screened out most of the accusations, but because he reportred anonymously over and over, it took a while for them to catch on.
          I still believe the policy of remove and ask questions later is the wrong route in most cases.

  16. I emailed Gov. Inslee, then called his number at 360-902-4111. The lady that answered was aware as they have been getting a lot of calls. She said it is being handled by the Attorney General’s office and that DSHS had given her office a number to give out, which was 800-723-4831. When I called that number it just rang with no answer at all on a Monday at 3:30 pm. I am extremely concerned and interested in this case, having been the victim in the past of an overzealous CPS worker tryng t ruin our lives with our now grown daughter.

  17. Press release from the Rengo’s attorney. Thank you for your support, Megan. See? Not a hoax.
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    STEPHEN PIDGEON
    Attorney at Law
    Chicago Title Building
    3002 Colby Avenue, Suite 306,
    Everett, Washington 98201
    (425)605-4774 telephone
    (425)818-5371 facsimile
    December 1, 2014
    A MOTHER’S WORST NIGHTMARE
    CPS TAKES NURSING INFANT TWINS FROM MOTHER
    On November 6th, 2014, CPS workers caused a Bellingham,Washington mother’s worst nightmare to come true. CPS first seized the mother’s 10 month old boy from the arms of the father and then shortly thereafter took the family’s newborn nursing twins from the mother’s arms. And what was the reason or cause that warranted the trauma and tragedy of tearing children out of the arms of their mother? That is exactly what attorney Stephen Pidgeon and his legal team intends to find out.
    The mother, Erica May Carey, was born at home. Her mother was a home birth educator. Erica chose to have her twins at home calling it “exquisite and empowering.” CPS apparently did not agree and decided to take the children for what appears to be “failure to provide prenatal care.”
    Father knows best? Mother knows best? No. CPS knows best.
    “The choice to birth a child at home is a deeply personal thing and Erica and her partner Cleave took great care in planning it. Once again the state in its arrogance exceeds not only the bounds of due process but of basic human decency in their treatment of Washington citizens. This particular incident has sparked outrage among hundreds of thousands of people worldwide,”
    says Stephen Pidgeon, the constitutional rights attorney who is representing the couple.
    Your prompt publication of this story is appreciated in advance.
    Sincerely,
    Stephen Pidgeon,
    WSBA# 39,008
    Attorney for Plaintiff

  18. Please, can anyone update us on what happened at the courthouse this morning?

    Thank you, Megan, for this post! How rare it is that I get personally invested in a news story, search for more info and find it right away. My heart is with Erica and Cleave and their three babies.

  19. I’m amazed by the comments saying it’s in the best interests of these children to be taken from their parents. Apparently no one has ever parented a child with Attachment Disorder. Those babies will end up with some form of it, hopefully not severe, because the bond they had formed with their parents was broken by a forcable separation. And reuniting the family may never heal those wounds. And for Levi, who is now diagnosed as having behavior problems because he cries for his mother? Please, people. I could see if these children were truly in danger, but just for not giving steroids for eczema? This is so far out of what should be considered legal for CPS to do it’s ridiculous.

  20. I am a related to Erica by blood. I won’t share how I am related, because the Carey family, of which is her maidan name, would cut all ties with me. I can confirm that the family is currently involved in a case with CPS. Normally I am of the opinion that children should stay with their mother or father whenever possible, unless clear danger exists in doing so. Erica has been a habitual drug user for more than a decade, including: LSD, Marijuana, alcohol abuse, cilicibin “magic” mushrooms, and others. I’m not certain if she is currently using. She has exhibited symptoms (I’m not a doctor) of paranoid schizophrenia. Complaining of people plotting against her, false perception and recollection of events and interactions, delusions, hearing voices, seeing things that aren’t there, etc. she has made several reactionary decisions because of some of these symptoms that have put herself and other’s safety at risk in times past. All this considered, she is a sweet person normally, and caring of others. However, she often will stop using vital medication that controls her symptoms of mental instability. I’m not certain what case the state will present tomorrow, but I’m sure it is in the best interest of the children.

    Please be respectful of the family and the state, as they proceed in the days to come. I’m sure you all can understand the stress that is associated with legal proceedings, whether you are being tried, or the one pressing charges.

    1. IF, and I do mean IF this was the case, the father could still have custody, or family members, where Erica would be allowed regular visits and the ability to breastfeed or supply milk. Kidnapping should be a last resort.
      Being a blood relative carries no weight with me. I have blood relatives who know nothing of my life, and I have friends whose blood relatives are very evil. Plus, this is the internet.

      1. I’m with Rachel. I cringe to think what some of my blood relatives might say about me. I have family members who would undoubtedly judge me today for choices I made years ago, or even for years-old perceptions they had of me which were inaccurate to begin with. It’s my feeling that no loving or even genuinely concerned blood relative would rush to the blogoshpere with harsh judgment and unflattering tales of this mother while she is amidst what is most certainly the most agonizing crisis of her life. Especially because this person has done so anonymously, I am led to believe this is a nasty, self-serving individual with a personal vendetta. Aside from that, we ALL have a past. And though it’s unfortunate, many parents are unable to part with their pasts entirely. But our pasts must not dictate whether or not we have the right to live our own lives and raise our own children to the best of our abilities. No one is without fault. No one is a perfect parent. I must also agree with Rachel when she suggests that, in a case where the mother is truly incapable, it’s best the children stay in the care of other family members, and when she says “kidnapping should be the last resort.” How SAD it is that we must actually debate this!

    2. Question? Why are you divulging family business? How is this in the best interest of all concerned? Do we, who are total strangers from all over the country need to know things about Erica, personal things? Where is your discretion? How now can Erica go anywhere without this label? She knows her sins, and so does GOD.

      JESUS said: “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” Speaking to people directly involved, and or people germane to the particulars of this situation is one thing, but revealing private, intimate details about one’s problems with drugs, ones sin to the entire world, it quite another. This was an irresponsible, detrimental, over-reach of family so-called ties they you committed.

      One Who Knows, your byline states a lot. You are telling us you are one who has intimates knowledge of the proceedings. With that knowledge comes responsibility. This act could not have been to “help” Erica, even if her drug usage is current knowledge or not. If you act out of Love, this is what’s involved:

      Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1Co 13:4-7)

      How does what you revealed help Erica? How does this show that you love her, and her children? She is allowed a chance to obtain repentance from GOD for the things that she has done. WE all do. He is ever merciful, and just. He will help her through this is she turns to Him. You may have thought you did the “right” thing here, I don’t agree.

      This information didn’t need to be shared with the world. At the very least, you have committed a sin against Erica. You should tell her what you did and ask for her forgiveness. But first search your heart to determine why you did what you did. No one wants their private sins published, unless they can submit to GOD’s hand to be restored. Her saga, can help other women who go through similar challenges.

      This is not me coming down on you, but pointing out that this was something that should have been thought out more before acting. Like where would this put my relationship with Erica?

    3. Wow, with Blood relatives like this, who needs enemies. Why (Even if true) would you sell her out to a bunch of strangers, with no legal standing in this case?

    4. What are the official allegations/charges? In my area cps does everything possible to not take children out of the parental home, so I have a lot of questions as to why no one is at least being open about the charges. Thanks

  21. She got pregnant again immediately after the birth of one child. She didn’t seek any medical care in that time: NONE. How would she know if they were healthy or not when clearly she knows so little about medicine? She’s one of those freaks that figures “God will make them well. if not, oh well, guess that’s their fate” instead of getting proper medical care.

    That’s all well and good for HERSELF but she’s making the choice for the babies of not even making sure they really are healthy. She’s far too paranoid to bother with that.

    Shame on you for condoning such child abuse.

    1. No, shame on YOU for condoning kidnapping. And she did not get pregnant immediately after the birth of her first child. Practice some basic kindergarten level math and try again, genius. Since you are such a zealot of the Big Pharma and the Health Care Industry, you should know that after giving birth in a hospital, the doctor recommended I avoid getting pregnant again for 6 months. So, clearly YOU are the one who knows so little about the medicine of your beloved tyrannical state, you pathetic, mentally and emotionally stunted sycophant.

      1. So quick to harsh words. If you read the statement from Erica’s attorney it states the children were taken at 10 months and newborn ages (newborn is used for babies generally under 28 days old). That would put her second pregnancy as “right away” to me. Not that it really matters, but thought I would put my kindergarten math levels to use

      2. Er, you should check YOUR math, indeed she did pretty much get pregnant almost immediately, intended or otherwise. When the twins were born, she had a 10 month old. So that first baby was about a month old when she got pregnant again. Or if when they talk about the “10 month old” they are referring to its age NOW, when the twins are now 5 weeks old, that would mean the older baby was about 9 months old when its siblings were born. So yea, there is an absolute certainty that she got pregnant almost immediatley after giving birth.

  22. Alright everyone, take a deep breath. To start with, as I mentioned before, I am a blood relative of Erica’s. Secondly, anyone who believes that child protective services would kidnap children on the basis of either having a homebirth, or breast-feeding, or any of the other wild explanations you people are coming up with is ludicrous.

    You are more than welcome to research this for yourself, but I will share the facts with you. The police had been called to the residents no less than 20 times for domestic disturbances. The twin babies were born under weight because Erica was unable to properly feed herself while pregnant because of their property, and she did not have the mental state of mind to sign up for available programs such as wic or food stamps or any other welfare programs. There is no conspiracy by the government or the state of Washington to remove children from home because of at home birth.

    Erica was afforded dozens of opportunities to clean up her act and seek help from many avenues to be able to properly care for her children. Having twins was a total surprise for her and the father because they had never visited a doctor to have prenatal care performed or have ultrasounds.

    Erica is mentally unstable in many ways, and the courts are requiring that she take regular medication and have professional mental services in order to receive her kids. Those children were being raised in an unhealthy environment both mentally and physically. Anything else you may have read from the other commenters or the writer is unfounded and totally speculative.

    These are the facts. If you want to have a discussion about child protective services, the government’s conspiracy to remove children from homes because of alternative healthcare practices, or anything else, please do not use my any family member as the poster child for your hysterical rants.

    1. King 5 News verifies that there was no prenatal care. Quoting from the news story:

      “To preserve the sacred space of her womb, Carey never even had an ultrasound. It wasn’t until immediately after the birth of their second son that the couple realized a twin daughter was on the way.”

      1. Ultrasounds are unnecessary and are not considered the whole of prenatal care by many pregnant women and respected practitioners alike. Many opt out of ultrasounds, and yet receive excellent and thorough care by midwives and OBs. I worked at an orthodox school where many of the families had 5-10 children (!) and zero of those children were viewed via ultrasound.
        I’m not saying there was excellent prenatal care in this situation – I have no idea. Just that the absence of an ultrasound is irrelevant.

        1. Megan, I’m not saying that an ultrasound is necessary as such, but what seems to be coming to light is that there was no prenatal care at all. You said that many pregnant women “opt out of ultrasounds, and yet receive excellent and thorough care by midwives and OBs,” however in the case of this family, it appears as if they chose no support through midwives, OBs or anyone else. Being the father of twins and knowing all of the difficulties my wife went through during final stages of pregnancy (see my original comment in this blog post), I know the risks involved. I’m very glad both of the twins under discussion are doing well, especially since neither parent knew the mother was pregnant with twins until the second child was being born.

          All that said, it doesn’t appear (as far as I can tell) that CPS removed the children for any of the above since removing the children after the fact does nothing to mitigate the risk the parents took while mother was pregnant. I suggest that there’s a lot more going on than we are being made aware of. I know there’s a tremendous temptation to respond exclusively with emotion in this circumstance, but it seems likely, given the court’s apparent decision to retain custody of all three children, that there are facts substantiating a higher risk to these kids than are being reporting in the news and social media.

    2. Is the presence of alternative medicine and choices about childbirth that YOU wouldn’t make any influence on your statement of “facts”? Are you the family member that called CPD?

    3. I know Erica as well–as my friend from the past many years we have lived in Bellingham together. And as a friend, coming from love, I have the invested interest too, that she take her medication and receive the support and guidance she needs long-term, to stabilize her significant mental dis-orders. Erica’s health and history absolutely needs to be known by the public so this conversation, this maddening frenzy, can move from a dialogue about CPS/homebirth rights/prenatal care, to a constructive, supportive narrative about maternal mental health and healing. So many mothers, so many people, are silenced and shadowed by their mental illnesses. If you feel invested in Erica, and her babies, and her family, you would be wise to channel your anger and time and love into seeking out how to truly assure and champion she gets the correct help she needs, so she can be the healthy, stable Mama she wants to be.

      Alas One Who Knows, those who do know, no one wants to listen to. They cannot comprehend their angel they are so desperately trying to save, needs so much more help then they can possibly admit. I’m with you. Anonymously because I will not risk the onslaught of hate directed towards me or my family by stepping forward. They will tear me apart like they are tearing at you. Thanks for stepping forward too.

    4. Can you please help me understand, if schizophrenia and drug usage is the real problem, why on NONE of the coverage stories is that mentioned? One who was in the Courthouse has mentioned how selfish for time and fumbling the prosecution has been, without really sarong much. I would think if this was brought up right away, there would be a much stronger case against the Rengo family. And the only thing I recall hearing about that was unfavorable in the Rengo side was domestic issues before the children. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have just started that the are mental reasonings from the start instead of sounding unorganized and wasting time.

      1. All the stories we have read so far have been from interviewing the parents or from people who readily agree the CPS kidnaps children. None of these people are unbiased. The parents are not mentioning the domestic abuse and mental health and health issues. So, the real question is why aren’t the parents admitting to the known problems and getting help? The mother could have gotten prenatal care and food for free, from the state. She could have gotten help with her medications. If she is truly schizophrenic, then not taking the medications is a severe risk to her, the babies, and her partner. Why is Cleave not trying to get her help? These are the issues the family should really be dealing with, not implying their babies were kidnapped for no reason.

        If the case was not strong, why has the hearing now taken three days?

        1. I do know some of those medications can be dangerous to a fetus during pregnancy, and also can cross over to the babies in breast milk. She may have stopped taking medications for that reason. As long as she has a decent support system, that should be a viable option to protect her children from those medications. But I don’t really know what is happening in her case.

          1. Medications are given a class, for use during pregnancy, but when it comes to mental health, no doctor would ever advocate not taking meds for serious mental illness, even if pregnant. If she had seen a doctor, she would have learned there were some drugs that she could have probably taken and been safe. The well-being of the mother is always considered when it comes to medication needs.

        2. Because the courts are just as corrupt as CPS. Are you, by any chance, the “teacher” named “Kathy” that was sticking up for CPS on another website that kept emailing me? If that was you, you have an AGENDA you are pushing, which isn’t surprising considering you are a teacher.And I will tell you again, look up some blogs and newspaper articles that have facts about the evil CPS commits or allows to “happen”……and let those facts sink in to your mind before you peddle your pro-CPS garbage. After all I’ve read and KNOW about CPS, children are better off without getting entangled in the CPS-web, even if they are REALLY being abused, at which point people can just call the police ( who have to use FACTS, and don’t get away with slandering people.)

  23. King5.com just had a news report on the story with video of the mother and husband (both real people) and this whole story. I thought it could be a hoax, but it was just a poorly titled article. The story is very real.

  24. Also wanted to mention that if prenatal care was the issue then how come druggie mothers who receive no prenatal care to avoid CPS get to keep their children? hm?
    And I know women who birth unassisted without prenatal care or ultrasounds and they have their kids.
    That’s not the reason for taking the kids. .
    This privatised version of CPS is disgusting. This is fear mongering to the natural/holistic families.
    More rights given to drug addicts and child beaters/neglecters but kids are taken from holistic christian homes. What’s wrong with this story hu?

  25. The Whatcom County CPS office, which is in Bellingham, WA, and the specific office involved in this case, has a reputation for selling babies into foster care. Many parents in that area have had their children pulled out of decent homes on often falsified charges in order to profit from the money the state pays out for foster children. I’ve personally watched a family go through it recently, as the state was forced to reluctantly return one child at a time and still has the third… even though legally if they return two children to a family, what excuse could be had for keeping the last? The answer? State-paid child support and kickbacks to CPS Social workers who would rather sell kids to abusers than protect their families.

    1. I witnessed this first hand only through a different Washington state CPS office – I knew I should have taken action then so it would happen to other families. I hope this case makes someone do something about the way CPS seperates families. They say they’re about reunification but that is not always the case. This IS part of the reason why we have kids reacting to each other, teachers, friends, and authority figures. No love…. how sad. I am still dealing with the after effects from 8 years ago.

  26. CPS MADE this case about home birth and alternative medicine, as that seems to be the only “proof” they can come up with for this mother being unfit for these babies as reported by a third party. Referring to the above disclosures, CPS kidnapping these babies still remains completely horrific. Every decision this mother made for these babies proves that she has remained very sane in regard to them, and I might add, has more knowledge and understanding when it comes to protecting the health of her babies than most. If this was about “concerned family” worried about the mother not taking her meds, maybe she didn’t want psychotropic meds in her breast milk. If this mother was on an elimination diet for her son, it was most likely for herself as well. Anyone hear of GAPS? So far there is NO proof that this mother was harming her babies intentionally or unintentionally. She was complying with an agency that was purporting to “help.” My husband is a physician, and I know that allopathic medicine has its rightful place. I also believe that non-medical birth, breast feeding, caution with vaccination, natural therapies for chronic conditions over pharmaceuticals are best for healthy babies. I wouldn’t even use the recommended diaper cream on my child once I read the prescription label! It is so sickening that EVERYTHING this young mother did right, post birth, for her babies was undone. No new information can reverse the facts that seizing the infants was not in their best interest. The facts remain that CPS had no ability to maintain the same level of care for these babies. The health complications in these babies, currently cropping up, are a direct result of CPS/foster care intervention. And I weep to think of the psychological/ emotional trauma to these children, let alone the mother. This ordeal will surely cure any pre-existing trouble with paranoia, huh? This mother and father continue to need our support, and this case has brought out into the wide open that THEY ARE NOT ALONE.

    1. Shane, I hear your passion and determination in being involved; making sure the family gets support. In that case, it is vital you, and everyone know where they are coming from emotionally so you can therefore understand and integrate the facts of those who know Erica personally. The court order/CPS did not MAKE this about homebirth or alternative medicine. Those are the claims/story of an unstable women, sensationalized. Due to Erica’s unstable mental state, she is convinced these issues are the only logical reasons why the government would take her children. Her “logic”. Not due to her long history with mental illnesses, not due to dozens and dozens of domestic disturbances on behalf of her paranoid and violent behaviors, not due to not following well-intentioned court orders to take her medication so she can be a stable, reliable Mama. Not due to invading CPS. Not due to the fact the babies were showing signs of neglect. (You can read more about that in the Bham Herald article.) Most of these facts are slowly becoming more public.

      These babies were not kidnapped. The use of that word, kidnapped, a word used by an unstable woman, moves the case away from accountability and transparency, and places all blame on the very system that has been trying to ‘help’ her help herself FOR YEARS. (Mental illness still continues to be a stigmatized topic not well addressed or understood by many agencies) The courts (and when she was pregnant with Levi, CPS became involved) have been working with Erica FOR YEARS. Years. She has been in and out of institutions and rehabilitation centers for years.

      As much as I too, support and personally use alternative allopathic medicine for the health of my family and myself, Erica, unfortunately, is too sick to not be on heavy pharmaceuticals. There are reliable class A-B medications that are safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and have been prescribed and made easily available to her. Her babies too, were showing signs they needed different interventions for their health instead of just using salves and breastmilk.

      It is heartbreaking her story has become a fight. Like I said before, this conversation needs to move away from CPS VS. natural parenting and towards a constructive dialogue about maternal mental health and long-term healing. It needs to move away from prescription medications VS. allopathic. There is no fight here. Outside of what has been fueled by Erica.

        1. No, it is NOT “very well stated”…….she sounds like she could be a lying witch. The FACT is, CPS was called, is involved, is evil, and Doula S is pretending to sound “wise”, when, really, she is either foolish or evil like CPS. “This conversation needs to move away from CPS…….” WHAT???? Once CPS gets involved, it’s too late to “move away” from anything. Read the stories people….CPS takes children away from people they shouldn’t, and leaves them in homes where there is real, physical abuse going on; that’s how they justify their “jobs.”

      1. Heavy pharmaceuticals never bring long term healing. I have an extended family rife with mental illness as well as medical journals to prove that point. Separating babies from a nursing mother does not bring long term maternal mental health either. This was not a fight between ideologies. It was a fight for restoration of a family that was unjustly being torn apart. I praise the Lord for His love and mercy and his answer to thousands of prayers that rose up around the world for these precious souls. Now – prayers for the true restoration that only He can bring to body, mind, and spirit.

  27. I’ve been following this story from the beginning wondering if it was a hoax or real. I found your page and then some others on Facebook and now it’s on USA Today as well. I, for one, am glad people like her relative and friend posted above. That’s been the missing piece here in all this drama with CPS. I think we all knew they weren’t taken just because they were home birthed or breastfed. There was always more to the story and everyone was so quick to assume CPS took the kids for just homebirthing. Now we know the mother was off her meds and the father has issues with domestic abuse. Clearly CPS knows some, if not all, of those details from law enforcement because they were there as well when they took the kids. So, like it was mentioned above, the narrative now needs to switch from “CPS EVIL” to trying to make sure this family has the help it needs to be great parents for these kids.

  28. While there may very well be underlying issues that have not been disclosed publicly (other then comments on this post), the reasons sited in court documents filed at this point say nothing about those underlying issues. The charges given in the filed documents state that the children were removed because the parents refused to treat the older child with steroid cream and that amounted to abuse. That being said, there are likely other documents and arguments being presented by the state that do not fall under the public disclosure laws.

  29. No one else has mentioned this development so I guess I should. The three children have been returned to the Rengo home but the court has retained supervision, which legally means the court is still legally involved and could order CPS to remove the children again if the parents don’t comply with the court’s orders, such as the parents attending counseling. The parents will have to successfully complete all of the programs and tasks ordered by the court before the judge will terminate the legal case, which could take some months.

    Quote from the news article:

    The state has said it would not take children from a home because of a home birth.

    It has been about a month and a half since the children have been living with their parents. The couple missed the one-year birthday of their oldest son. Now their attorney says that son, who was diagnosed with eczema and is now in state custody, is also suffering from pneumonia.

    While the state attorney’s office confirmed in court that CPS originally visited the couple’s home when they refused a paramedic’s recommendation to have a hospital check-up for the newborns, the judge said his decision to keep the kids under state shelter care had nothing to do with home birth or the use of natural remedies. His biggest concern is what he called an unstable, chaotic home environment.

    The parents have been ordered to see counselors and follow other instructions to care for their kids.

    “I definitely want to be a better parent,” Rengo said.

    The upshot of all this is that after examining the evidence, the juvenile court judge has determined there is sufficient risk to the children that the court needs to retain supervision but not such imminent risk that would result in immediate harm or neglect when the children are returned home. This is good news for the Rengos as the children have been returned home *and* CPS can provide supportive services under court order. If literally no risk to the children existed, the court would have closed its case and ordered the return of the children to the parents without further CPS intervension. If there were some risk but nothing that might require the possibility of another removal, the court could have returned the children to the parents with the recommendation (but not an order) that voluntary CPS services should be provided. The parents would have been perfectly free to refuse those services, effectively ending the CPS case. I think the court made the right call here.

    Link to the story: http://www.ktvb.com/story/news/local/bellingham/2014/12/05/judge-returns-kids-to-bellingham-parents/19983389/

  30. Had CPS shown up a couple of days prior, she would NOT be holding her kids today. Her mother and grandmother showed up first to scrub an absolutely filthy (criminally so) apartment that they share with Cleave’s disabled father. The children (all three) and parents sleep on the floor on a single mattress. Cleave is street merchant and preacher and has a well earned reputation with local authorities that has nothing to do with his ability to earn a living and provide for his family and ea lot more to do with his “visions and prophecies”. The emergency help included dumping thirty plus pounds of rotting food from the fridge and kitchen area. The twins were SIGNIFICANTLY malnourished as you cannot breastfeed all three of your children when you are receiving less than 1000 calories per day yourself. Mom and grandma helped get the children on some supplemental formula and the household some desperately needed groceries. Responsible journalism would have you ask a few more questions about a LOT more details than the rants of two children/parents who believe they have been wronged by the State. Thank God, loving family members stepped in at precisely the right time to intervene. Without that timely help, you probably would not be reading about the death of an infant (or two) due to any number of problems within that home. Her extended family loves Erica dearly, but she is in a lot deeper trouble (and now all three children) than this so-called journalist has even scratched the surface on. The real story has a lot more to do with mental illness, child neglect, spousal abuse, and pure parental incompetence. CPS, and the State are there to protect CHILDREN, which is exactly what they are trying to do; so please pray that they don’t stop doing their job!

    1. I lived in Bellingham and dealt with CPS and this Judge. I fought for years over my grandson and got nowhere with CPS until my daughter went to prison for 7 heroin related felonies, then I had to file a court case. It would be unusual for CPS to take these kids over steroid cream and arguing, although that’s what it looks like on the surface. However, I listened to Erica’s court hearing, and she seemed to be extremely hostile, and was acting inappropriately for a good outcome in court. I believe her family’s account, been through all this myself, it’s not something that you lie about. Depression, drug abuse, and domestic violence is very common in this area, and they will take your babies at the hospital if they test positive for drugs. Marijuana is legal but not for babies. I would never deliver twins at home without a midwife present. I hope that she gets the help and support that she needs, and that they can be a happy, healthy family.

  31. Ericas first child was taken away briefly right after birth because of marjuana in his system. To this day she is still using. Thats why the home birth. A birth at the hospital would have found them out. A relative.

    1. Marijuana (learn how to spell, you ignoramus) is legal in this state and a natural/safe product. The point is, all of the “bad” things you RELATIVES are gossiping about against this family are NOTHING compared to what will happen to those little children in the foster care system.

  32. I just can’t fathom how people can sleep at night after they have ripped 3 nursing children away from their FOOD SUPPLY! The parents have NOT committed any criminal acts, otherwise the police that are (supposedly) going to their house “all the time” would have arrested them. The family has also been on many t.v. stations where anyone can see that the children look healthy, and the rash isn’t something to cause the cops/CPS to rip the children away from their parents, causing mental and emotional damage to the whole family. There is definitely a better way to handle this.

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