I apologize for the lack of updates. I was out of town for a few days, and then for some odd reason blogger decided this site was inappropriate and shut it down for awhile. I will get to posting soon.
Friday, April 25, 2008
The outpouring of support for these children that were going to be denied the best nutrition, breast milk, was amazing.
I received emails from all over the county, from people of all backgrounds asking how they can help this cause. A good majority of the responses were from mothers just like me, and many were breastfeeding mothers. They asked me how they could help the FLDS children receive breast milk. I was not certain in the case of directly helping each individual FLDS child, so I contacted several different agencies to see what could be done if the FLDS mothers were not going to be able to breastfeed or give their children their expressed breast milk. Thankfully, for now, these children will be receiving their mother's breast milk. But had the judge decided otherwise, it is likely these children would have been abruptly weaned and put on infant formula, which is far cry from being like breast milk.
One solution for these children, as well as children all across the country that are not able to breastfeed, is to receive donated human milk. The AAP states that next to mother's milk, donated breast milk is the next best thing. The recommended and safest way to donate human milk is to donate to a milk bank that pasteurizes the milk and screens each donor. But because milk banks do not receive enough milk donations to supply all the children in need, they must give their supply to the most needy ill children.
One way we can make sure that no child goes without breast milk, is to donate our breast milk to these milk banks. If the supply was there at these milk banks, then even healthy children without breast milk from their mother, whether because of maternal death or illness, a natural disaster (as seen with Hurricane Katrina) or custody cases (as with the FLDS children) could receive this vital nutrition.
Please consider donating your breast milk today. There is a thorough, yet easy, screening process. I spoke to the Mother's Milk Bank in Austin, TX and they said they are ready for you to contact them today.
Your breast milk will save lives.
If you are no longer breastfeeding but would like to help, please consider making a cash donation to your nearest Mother's Milk Bank (http://www.hmbana.org/index.php?mode=locations). If you would like to donate a breast pump or breastfeeding supplies to a mother in need or to a mother that will pump for the milk bank please contact me. If you are a mother in need of a breast pump please contact me as well.
Thank you. --Nicole
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I will sleep better tonight knowing that the little tummies of the FLDS babies will be full of breast milk tonight. I am sad to think of what the supplements would have done to their health as well as their discomfort and anxiety level. In a time when their world is turned upside down, whether for the better or not, the sweet familiar taste of their mother's milk will give them comfort. I can only hope these young innocent children will continue to receive the best nutrition, breast milk. I am grateful that someone told the judge and CPS the importance of breast milk for the FLDS babies and that a decision was made to allow nursing infants under 12 months continue. I hope for the older nursing children, away from their mothers, that breast milk can be expressed and given to them. I will continue to advocate for the children without a voice. --Nicole
Adult moms to stay with nursing FLDS infants; children to still be home-schooled
By Paul A. Anthony (Contact)
Originally published 04:06 p.m., April 23, 2008
Updated 05:36 p.m., April 23, 2008
In deviations from the normal practice in child-removal cases, infants removed from the YFZ Ranch will not be separated from their adult mothers if they are still nursing, and older children will continue to be home-schooled in their foster placements.
The details, revealed at an informational gathering today presided over by 51st District Judge Barbara Walther, appeared to defuse much of the tension that had been building between attorneys for the hundreds of children housed at the San Angelo Coliseum and the state's Child Protective Services agency.
"I would like for this case to take on the normal progressions these things take," Walther told a crammed courtroom of more than 60 attorneys and reporters. "The Department (of Family and Protective Services) has been stretched beyond belief."
CPS attorney Gary Banks told Walther the agency planned to separate nursing infants from their adult mothers, an idea she rejected. Those 18 mothers should be placed with their babies, she said.
Likewise, Banks said, CPS plans to break from its normal practice of allowing children placed in foster care to be enrolled in public schools.
"They might down the road be in the school system," he said, noting the "cultural shock" the children likely would feel, "but right now, the plan is not to do that."
Attorneys after the meeting said they were glad to see information exchanged, and Walther said she expects communication to improve between CPS and the attorneys as the case begins to break down into smaller groups.
Local attorney Tom Goff said he agrees with that sentiment.
"It's just overwhelming," he said. "I think it'll settle down."
FLDS update: FLDS moms to stay with babies in state care
The Salt Lake Tribune
The judge overseeing the cases of more than 400 FLDS children in state custody said this afternoon adult mothers of infants age 12 months and under should remain with their babies in the state's care.
District Court Juge Barbara Walther made the request of Texas Child Protective Services after receiving an update from the agency on its attempts to place the polygamous sect's children in foster homes or shelters. CPS agreed.
Earlier this week, Walther rejected a temporary restraining order request seeking to keep breastfeeding mothers with their babies.
CPS attorney Gary Banks told Walther this afternoon there are 18 adult mothers with babies 12 months and under. Placements have already been found for 16 of those mothers and their children, he said.
Walther also requested that CPS keep children older than 12 months in proximity to their parents so they can visit frequently. The judge rejected a motion earlier that would have required the agency to keep the children within a five-county radius.
"What this is, is when I take possession of a child, I take personal responsibility for that child, and I'd like to know where these children are," said Walther this afternoon.
Banks said there are 23 adult women with children between the ages of 12 and 24 months. Those women have 28 collectively. Children between the ages of 3 and 5 will go to foster care settings, said Banks, and some children ages 5 to 18 will go into group settings.
The judge also told Banks she wanted the children to be able to exercise their religion and have access to the clothing they desired while in foster care. Banks said CPS is in the process of setting up educational evaluations for each child.
Banks told her it is urgent the children be placed into foster homes at this point, calling conditions at the San Angelo Coliseum where children are being housed "untenable."
Walther said individual hearings for the children will begin May 18, and urged attorneys representing sect members and those lawyers appointed by the state to represent the interests of the children to refrain from making filings with her at this point.
"We have four to five feet of filings, and it's very hard for me to go through five feet of filings," she said.
She said CPS has been stretched "beyond belief" and asked the various parties involved in the case to be patient.
"No one wants to see these children separated from their parents," said Walther. "In a perfect world, that wouldn't happen, but this isn't a perfect world."
Yesterday, 111 children ages 5 and older left the Coliseum for temporary homes located throughout the state, according to CPS spokeswoman Sheri Pulliam. The agency has said siblings under age 5 will be placed together, and attempts will be made to place older siblings together.
Authorities late Tuesday finished taking DNA samples from all the children. The attorney general's office sent 10 technicians on Monday to the Coliseum to take the court-ordered samples as child welfare officials try to sort out the complicated family relationships at the compound. Roughly 500 samples were taken.
Spokeswoman Janece Rolfe said the testing at the Coliseum was completed late Tuesday, but technicians are still taking samples from parents in Eldorado.
The removal of the children is the latest blow to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The April 3 raid of the sect's YFZ Ranch was prompted by calls to a local shelter from someone claiming to be a 16-year-old girl being abused by her FLDS husband.
Texas Rangers have said they are investigating whether the call could have been a hoax perpetrated by a Colorado woman with a history of lying to police there. Court documents released today show one phone number used to place a call to the Texas shelter had been used by Rozita Swinton in the past.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Some information has been given to me, and as of today this is what I know...
1. The FLDS mother's do know of the amazing benefits of breast milk and the majority breastfeed their infants until the children self wean (about 18 months). This information was given to me from an FLDS mother today.
2. The FLDS mothers are familiar with WIC and may or may not be receiving benefits. I would like clarification from someone involved to let me know if these mothers are in need of breast pumps and supplies.
3. Outsiders are not being allowed to talk to the women, children, and or foster families to offer any assistance. If this is not true, then I have not been able to contact the right representative to give the mothers a message of breastfeeding support.
4. La Leche League in the area has made a statement offering help. "At this time, La Leche League has made resources available to the community if they need mother to mother BF support and assistance. We have a group of Leaders ready to assist these mothers if they contact us. Melia Boyer Area Professional Liaison LLL of Texas"
5. There is an attorney that has contacted me that is willing to represent these clients on the issue of making sure the children have breast milk.
6. The women are not against using technology and have electricity. Usage of breast pumps will not be impossible.
7. The Texas Breastfeeding Coalition is offering support and has contacted CPS officials.
8. Some women will be allowed to stay with their nursing infants. Some nursing infants have already been removed from their mothers.
This is information that I need, and what I do not know...
1. Do these mothers already have access to breast pumps, and are willing and able to use them?
2. For the women that are not allowed to stay with their nursing infants: Will these mothers be able to give their children the pumped breast milk? What if the foster family is hundreds of miles away?
3. For the infants that are not allowed to stay with their mothers: What are they being supplemented with? The AAP states that the next best thing to mothers milk, is donor human breast milk. http://www.aap.org/breastfeeding/
4. Can we collect breast milk for these infants, and have a mothers milk bank collect and distribute the milk to the children? If only the children that are sick may have the breast milk, can we make sure there is awareness that it is available?
5. What education is being given to the foster families about infant nutrition and breastfeeding?
More to come. I have a birth to attend but will be off and on trying to update as often as I can in the next few days. Do email me and keep me posted if you have more information.
Texas abuse: Nursing mothers should be with little ones
The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial
Article Last Updated: 04/22/2008 06:46:57 PM MDT
It will take many months, maybe even years, to determine whether the actions by Texas authorities in removing 437 children from their homes in a compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was justified.
But Texas District Judge Barbara Walther's order that nursing mothers not be allowed to breastfeed their babies and toddlers - 77 under age 2 at last count - while in state custody seems unwarranted, even heartless.
We cannot see how these infants and toddlers, even if their parents' polygamous lifestyle puts female children at risk of sexual abuse when they're older, as the state claims, could be endangered simply by breastfeeding.
In fact, the judge's reasoning on this point seems ludicrous. Breastfeeding is certainly not one of the polygamous practices that are being challenged as systemically abusive. And it's not likely that the mothers could plot with these small children to hinder the state's case in some way as they are nursing.
Worse, the judge's order is not in the interest of these children's physical and mental health. And it's not something that the mothers can resume if the children are, eventually, returned to them. In other words, the court would be permanently depriving these children of the best nutrition available, even if the state fails to prove its case against their parents.
And breastfeeding is more than good nutrition. The bond that forms when a child is fed at a mother's breast has been found to be important to its emotional good health.
Nevertheless, the state Child Protective Services plans to send 95 mothers home who are now caring for their children under age 5 under state supervision.
We believe that is unconscionable.
If, as one Texas CPS official said, "Our main thing is to protect children from abuse and neglect," these tiny children should be allowed the benefits of breastfeeding. To deprive them of those benefits, when so much that is familiar has been taken from them, is simply abuse by another name.
I am hoping this is a positive step in the right direction.
Some nursing mothers and children may stay together. I am hoping that everyone, particularly Judge Walther, is beginning to understand the importance of breast milk for these children. If officials thought Judge Walther's safety was in jeopardy, I wonder if they would deprive her of water? --Nicole
More sect moms may join children
Number of youngsters held rises
By Paul A. Anthony
San Angelo Standard-Times
Monday, April 21, 2008
SAN ANGELO -- A state district judge seemed to open the door Monday for adult women to be placed with their nursing children in foster situations, telling attorneys in the historic Schleicher County child-removal case to negotiate such provisions on a case-by-case basis.
Judge Barbara Walther declined to rule on a temporary restraining order sought by attorneys representing adult women and infants held at the San Angelo Coliseum since their removal from the YFZ Ranch northeast of Eldorado. Instead, the 51st District judge said the question was one for each mother's and each child's attorney to settle with the state's Child Protective Services agency.
"This is really one of the cases where y'all should be talking instead of running to the court every time," Walther said. "These most private matters should be handled in an individual manner."
CPS as a rule does not place adult women with their children, regardless of age or whether they are nursing, said spokeswoman Shari Pulliam, but that it has found placement for the at least five girls identified as juvenile mothers with their children.
Allowing adult women to be placed with their nursing children "would be something I would say is new," Pulliam said.
'We're going to keep these teenage girls with their children,' she said; however, 'None of our plans involve placing (adult) mothers with their children.'
Placement likely will begin by next week, Pulliam said.
Since Walther ruled Friday that all 400-plus children removed from the compound should remain in CPS custody, attorneys have filed dozens of motions and requested orders -- including 35 writs of habeas corpus.
Walther conducted a pair of hearings Monday in an effort to answer some of those questions, not least of which is how many children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
compound the state actually has in custody.
CPS began removing children April 3, a process that took nearly four days.
Attempts since then by attorneys ad litem and CPS caseworkers to solidify birth dates have led to an increase in the count to 437
from the previously reported 416 children in custody, Pulliam said. The number of adult women believed to be willingly staying with their young children also has risen, from 82 to 95.
It means a total of 519 people from the ranch are now housed at the San Angelo Fairgrounds.
The numbers have jumped for two principal reasons, Pulliam said:
• Some girls claiming to be adults have since been correctly classified as juveniles and the totals of both categories remain in flux as numbers are added and subtracted from each.
• The sheer numbers of children has made counting difficult, something CPS hopes will be eased by this week's DNA testing.
"We're just not getting a lot of factual information," Pulliam said. "It's just been really hard."
The state alleges all children at the ranch were at risk for physical or sexual abuse because of a 'pervasive pattern and practice' of underage marriage.
Walther, in her brusque style, entreated attorneys to work together to resolve other issues brought to her Monday -- such as the usage of eight telephone lines recently installed at the coliseum to allow women and older children to communicate with their attorneys and how to allow the devout detainees the private prayer and worship they've requested.
In the end, Walther, urging flexibility, suggested finding a monitor from the mainstream Mormon church whose presence may be more palatable to the FLDS members than a complete outsider.
"I'm not going to monitor what color napkins get handed out," she said, "and that's where this is leading."
Attorneys for the women and children used the hearings to more fully air concerns first broached during last week's initial custody hearing -- including allegations that CPS was unfairly restricting access to attorneys and being uncooperative in striking agreements on such issues as prayer time and foster placement for nursing children.
Andrea L. Sloan, an Austin-based attorney representing several mothers in the case, said she had met extensively with attorneys for both mothers and children in preparing the motion, which she filed with San Angelo attorneys Deborah Keenum and Terri Harris Motl.
Sloan and Keenum said they did not have any immediate comment.
While acknowledging that infants were best served by receiving breast milk from their mothers, Walther highlighted CPS' position that the mothers had placed their children at risk for abuse in the FLDS setting.
"The court has ruled the conditions those children were in were not safe for the children," she said. "I did not make the facts that got this case into the courts."
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I was interviewed today by a Salt lake city news station. While in Utah, far from Tx I was pleased with the media coverage. I hope it spreads. Note that I am not the sole founder of the Tx breastfeeding coalition as the story implies. I'm one of the original members as it was being organized. I appreciate this coverage and the kind reporter.
Video HERE: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=3141379
Courtney Orton reporting
Nursing babies are among the children that have been taken into state custody in Texas. Although still with their mothers, a judge has refused to protect them from separation in the future. She left it up to child welfare officials.
Advocates for breast-feeding in Utah and Texas are now rallying around the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints mothers.
Lactation consultants don't want to weigh in on the allegations of child abuse at the FLDS ranch. They just want Texas authorities to know how damaging abrupt weaning can be for infants.
"It's not my right to judge whether the children should be with their mothers, but I do feel it is our right to make sure they have the best care and the best nutrition," said Nicole Hoff, a certified lactation consultant.
Hoff, the founding member of the Texas Breast-Feeding Coalition, says the best care and the best nutrition is breast milk. She set up a Web site to organize support and make breast pumps available to nursing mothers if they are separated from their children.
"These children have been breast-fed and that is the only thing they've known. It's what their body, what their system, is used to. It's important for them that they continue to have that breast milk," Hoff said.
Hoff says that could be accomplished in a couple of different ways: either in supervised breast-feeding visits or allowing FLDS mothers to pump their breast milk.
The Utah Division of Child and Family Services says breast-feeding can come up in custodial cases. "When it comes to something like breast-feeding, we wouldn't want to be making the decision on our own. We would be a part of that team, but we would be looking to medical professionals, law enforcement and that kind of thing to help us make a decision," said Charri Brummer, deputy director of the Utah Division of Child and Family Services.
Brummer says removing a child can be traumatic regardless of the circumstances. Breast-feeding advocates say taking breast-feeding away from the child can make it even more traumatic.
"To separate them only causes trauma. If these mothers have chosen to be with their babies, then their babies are used to being with them; and they are not only used to being with them, but the are programed to be with them," said Nicole Bernshaw, also a certified lactation consultant.
Texas judge Barber Walther responded to the FLDS women's plea by saying that women every day in this country go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave. Advocates for breast-feeding say the comment was insensitive to mothers who continue to breast-feed even after returning to work.
To view Hoff's Web site, click the related link.
Latest News on Eldorado
News Brief: Monday, April 21, 2008http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/About/News/2008/2008-04-21_news.asp
DFPS and other state agencies continue to shelter and care for 437 children removed from the FLDS ranch near Eldorado. A more accurate census taken at the shelter at the San Angelo Coliseum determined an additional 21 children are in state custody.
Some 950 state employees and private agency staff are operating the shelter and caring for children at the shelter and providing for all the needs of the children.
Collecting samples for court ordered DNA testing is going smoothly at the coliseum. Cheek swabs are being collected from each child, as well as the adults who still accompany them. Once all the samples are collected it will take 30 to 50 days to get the results.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office is overseeing the collection of samples. Tomorrow, teams will be in Eldorado to collect samples from anyone who claims to be a parent of any of the children.
Children will be moved into foster placements as soon as possible. Once testing is complete, a final court order is entered and placements are finalized.
To make this transition as smooth as possible, DFPS will keep children together in groups. Children will be free to continue to worship daily as is their custom and keeping them together will provide emotional support.
DFPS will keep teenage girls and their children together, and sibling groups together as much as possible.
Once in foster care, DFPS will begin evaluating the educational, healthcare and counseling needs of each child and create a service plan for each child.
All the children are receiving healthy food, medical care, and enjoying recreational activities to pass the time.
The Department of State Health Services says the overall health of the children is good. There are no serious illnesses and no more than the typical number of illnesses expected in a group of children this size.
I would like to ask those that are able to get into action to make sure these infants have breast milk.
Leave a comment on how you may be able to help.
How you can help:
If you are part of the legal team can you please advocate for the babies needing breast milk, even if it means mothers will be apart from the children. While the FLDS children may not be in the care of their mothers, I am wondering if they can be allowed to receive their mother's breast milk through supervised breastfeeding visits. Then they would also receive the benefits of being at breast. If that is not allowed then is it possible to get the mothers set up with breast pumps and a milk drop off station? Please comments below on the efforts being done.
Donations of personal breast pumps and hospital grade breast pumps and pumping kits for these mothers will be needed if it is determined that they are not receiving WIC. If you know if these mothers already have access to quality breast pumps and supplies please let me know. If you are able to donate breast pumps or feeding supplies such as bottles and storage bags, please contact me by leaving a comment or email.
I feel strongly that there needs to be training for those that will be providing care for the children to know the benefits of breast milk and proper storage and handling of breast milk. The FLDS mothers also need training on breast pumping and storage and handling of breast milk. Is the state providing this training? Please comment below if you know more information.
Media sources don't stop talking about this issue. I am available for statements. Comment below if you will be quoting or referring to this site. I am available to discuss the benefits of breast milk and the risks of formula feeding.
Local organizations such as La Leche League, Breastfeeding Coalitions, please comment on your efforts.
Help Children's Advocacy Center
of Tom Green County http://www.cactomgreen.org/index.php
Spread the word on these children being deprived of optimal nutrition.
Have other ways to help? Email me: BrightBabiesCo@aol.com or leave a comment on how you may be able to help.
By Nicole Hoff
Like the judge, my main concern is for the safety and health of the children. Breast milk is vital in protecting these children as well.
Judge Walther acknowledged that she recognizes that breastfeeding has nutritional and bonding benefits and stated: "But every day in this country, we have mothers who go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave."
While that may be true, many of these mothers returning to work or school pump their breast milk for their infants, come home to breastfeed on breaks, utilize a lactation room in their workplace, and find other ways to logistically make it possible to give their child breast milk. Why? Because it is best and recommended. The World Health Organization, health care associations, and government health agencies affirm the scientific evidence of the clear superiority of human milk and of the hazards of artificial milk products. The World
Health Organization recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their infants for at least the first six months, continuing breastfeeding for two years and beyond.
Breastfeeding benefits infants and children nutritionally, immuniologically and psychologically.
FACT SHEET: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/ebf-benefits.html#mother
Judge Walther: "The court has made a determination that the environment those children were in was not safe." "We don't place adult women in foster care." "Our main thing is to protect children from abuse and neglect."
Protecting these children from abuse and neglect should include protecting them from the risks of not breastfeeding: including the risk of SIDS, obesity, certain cancers, decreased IQ, diabetes, and many diseases and illnesses.
The mother's are at risk as well:
"Health Risks of Not Breastfeeding": http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/index.cfm?page=519
By Nicole Hoff
Judge: LDS to watch as FLDS pray?
She bans talk of probe; nursing mothers can't stay with babies
By Brooke Adams
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 04/22/2008 01:25:31 AM MDT
SAN ANGELO, Texas - The Texas judge overseeing the polygamous FLDS sect's case refused Monday to make any ruling that would allow breast-feeding mothers to remain with their children in state custody.
Judge Barbara Walther did rule that the women and children currently staying at the San Angelo Coliseum could meet twice a day to pray without being monitored by state workers.
Instead, she asked Texas Child Protective Services to find a member of the mainstream LDS Church or some other "appropriate religious person" who would not be seen as "making their service less sacred" to oversee the sessions.
Walther's suggestion comes just four days after an apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appealed to news media to make a "clear distinction" between the two groups and reiterated that they have no connection.
The LDS Church strenuously disavows polygamous groups such as the FLDS, with whom they share historical roots and a scriptural canon.
The church denounced polygamy as a practice in 1890 and 1904 and excommunicates members who support or practice it. Fundamentalist Mormons consider the LDS Church to be out of order for abandoning principles laid out by Joseph Smith, founder of the faith.
A spokesman for the LDS Church had no comment on Walther's suggestion Monday night. But John Walsh, who has studied both the LDS Church and fundamentalist groups, said it was "problematic."
"To me it shows that the judge does not have a nuanced understanding of Mormon culture and of the very different churches that are part of the Mormon umbrella," said Walsh, who testified before Walther last week about FLDS practices.
"She is in essence saying that we want one branch of the schism to supervise the other branch, which in any other religion would be problematic."
Walther made the rulings during a request for temporary restraining orders filed by attorneys for four nursing mothers but on behalf of other mothers as well.
Texas authorities took custody of children from the YFZ Ranch, located in Eldorado and owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as part of an investigation that began April 3. Walther ruled Friday the state proved the children were in danger of sexual and emotional abuse and should remain in state custody.
On Monday, CPS said an updated head count shows it has charge of 437 children. Of those, 77 are age 2 or younger. The state initially allowed mothers to join their children at the shelters, but sent home women of children older than 5. Currently, 95 women remain with younger children.
The state plans to separate adult mothers from their children later this week, after it finishes collecting DNA samples that will be used to determine parentage.
Attorneys for the women asked the judge to consider letting nursing mothers remain with their children after negotiations with CPS on the issue stalled. They asked the judge to let the mothers stay until DNA results are in, likely to take up to 40 days.
Walther acknowledged the nutritional and bonding benefits of breast-feeding.
"But every day in this country, we have mothers who go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave," she said.
"The court has made a determination that the environment those children were in was not safe," said Walther, adding that there is a shortage of suitable placements for infants in Texas.
The judge said she would leave it up to CPS officials and the attorneys to work something out on the breast-feeding. The attorneys, however, said so far they have been unable to come to agreement.
Shari Pulliam, a spokeswoman for CPS, said the agency plans to proceed with plans to send the women home.
"We don't place adult women in foster care," she said. "Our main thing is to protect children from abuse and neglect."
On Friday, child psychiatrist Bruce Perry backed the state's concerns about the group's practices but said the youngest children are in the least danger of being harmed by any "unhealthy" beliefs held by their parents. He also said that "the younger you are, the more destructive it is to be removed from your home environment."
The judge's decision drew a rapid response from breast-feeding proponents, who began rallying around the FLDS mothers. Nicole D. Hoff, a certified lactation counselor in Texas, set up an instant Web site - http://fldsbreastmilk-
"While we may not agree or understand the circumstances, I think we need to fight for the right of the children to have the best care and nutrition, which includes breastmilk," she said in a message on the site.
Walther also ruled that the women and children would be allowed to use telephone lines set up at the Coliseum on Monday but only to visit with attorneys. She limited the children to half-hour conversations and the women to one-hour visits with counsel.
On the prayer issue, the mothers said that CPS workers listened in and even once vacuumed while they prayed. Andrea Sloan, an attorney for the women, said CPS did not want two or more women meeting together, which hampered their ability to gather for prayer services.
Gary Banks, a CPS attorney, said the concern was the women might discuss the ongoing investigation if allowed to meet behind closed doors.
The monitors will prevent that, the judge said. "But if [any mothers] cross the line, coach any child or make any reference to ongoing litigation, then all bets are off."
* CHRISTOPHER SMART contributed to this story.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Texas judge declines to rule on FLDS mothers' request to stay with their nursing babies
By Brooke Adams
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 04/21/2008 04:16:48 PM MDT
SAN ANGELO, Texas -- The Texas judge overseeing the polygamous FLDS sect's case today refused to make any ruling that would allow breast-feeding mothers to remain with their children in state custody.
Judge Barbara Walther did rule on requests that women and children currently being held in San Angelo be able to pray together privately. She told Texas Children Protective Services (CPS) to find a member of the mainstream Mormon church to supervise group prayer sessions with FLDS women and children. Those sessions would occur in the morning and evening.
Walther was addressing a request for temporary restraining orders filed by attorneys for four of the nursing mothers, but on behalf of all mothers there. The request asked the court to stop Texas child-welfare workers from separating mothers and children, to allow private prayer, and to give the women and children telephone access to their lawyers.
The judge said she would leave it up to CPS officials and the attorneys to work something out on the breast-feeding. The attorneys, however, replied that they have so far been unable to come up with a workable agreement.
CPS officials plan to separate 68 women with children under five from their kids once DNA samples are taken. The sampling began today.
A total of 416 children taken from the FLDS ranch more than two
weeks ago are being kept in a coliseum and pavilion in San Angelo.
Motion also seeks prayer privacy, attorney access
FLDS mothers to Texas judge: Don't take away our nursing children
By Brooke Adams
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 04/21/2008 03:51:51 PM MDT
SAN ANGELO, Texas -- Mothers in the polygamous FLDS sect on Monday filed a motion for a temporary restraining order demanding access to attorneys, privacy in prayer and a halt to Texas child-welfare workers plans to separate them from their breast-feeding children.
Though filed specifically on behalf of four Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints mothers, the TRO is meant to include other mothers fighting to stop the state from taking their toddlers, who were taken from the sect's YFZ Ranch earlier this month.
Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) officials have repeatedly said they plan to separate all 416 children taken from the ranch -- including those under 2 who are currently breast-feeding -- once DNA testing determines maternity. That genetic screening began today. Texas Judge Barbara Walther set an afternoon hearing to further discuss the TRO motions.
The TRO also claims that since state officials have seized all cell phones from mothers and their children, they have no means to confer with attorneys. Further, despite CPS assurances that telephone access would be provided, that has yet to happen, the mothers argue.
State officials also have refused to provide mothers and children privacy to say their prayers, which the TRO argues is an unconstitutional intrusion on their right to practice their religion. "In one instance, it has
been reported that [CPS] workers . . . were vacuuming while the children attempted to pray. Without exception [the mothers] have reported that [CPS] will not let them pray without being monitored," the mothers claim.
The women insist they "have a right to pray without the watchful ears the department intruding" on a sacred religious rite. The TRO asks that the women be given 30 minutes of private prayer morning and night.
The judge also received 35 habeas corpus petitions representing the seized children "illegally restrained" by CPS. Those documents were filed on April 15, but were not available until Monday.
In yet another FLDS raid-related development, coordinating attorneys, legal aid attorneys and guardians ad litem announced an undisclosed number of 20-30 young women whose adult status had been debated had indeed been determined to be legally adults.
Attachment 101 for Attorneys: Implications for Infant Placement Decisions
By Eleanor Willemsen and Kristen Marcel
Family law resources by Attachment Parenting International, including a link for professionals.
American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk
Dr. Katharine Dettwylers's court letter that can be used in cases involving extended breastfeeding.
This document, out of Australia, discusses studies on extended breastfeedin
Breastfeeding Legislation in the United States:
A General Overview and Implications for Helping Mothers
Melissa R. Vance, Esq.
Moorestown NJ USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 3, June-July 2005, pp. 51-54.
..."Custody & Visitation Issues
There are only three states that address breastfeeding and custody/visitation in their statutes: Maine, Michigan, and Utah. Maine considers the breastfeeding of a child under the age of one year in its determination of what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Breastfeeding, however, is just one of many factors to be considered. A court in Michigan, when determining parenting time, must take into consideration whether a child younger than six months is breastfed, or if one younger than a year "receives substantial nutrition" by breastfeeding. Utah provides for a minimum visitation schedule for children under the age of five, but "the lack of reasonable alternatives to the needs of a nursing child" may be taken into consideration.
The lack of a statute does not mean that a judge cannot consider breastfeeding issues in determining visitation or custody. Courts will consider the child's best interests in dealing with family law issues. Additionally, there may be prior court decisions in individual states that recognize the issue of breastfeeding in family law situations. Referring a mother to articles on the LLL Web site (www.lalecheleague.org/Law/LawMain.html) written by Liz Baldwin is a starting point. Area Professional Liaison Leaders may also have information regarding prior court decisions in their states that may be helpful to a mother. The latest American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on breastfeeding calls on health care professionals to support the efforts of parents and the courts to ensure continuation of breastfeeding in separation and custody proceedings. " ...
Read full article:
The Breastfeeding Relationship and Visitation Plans
By Elizabeth N. Baldwin, JD and Kenneth A. Friedman, JD
Miami, Florida, USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 13 No. 1, January-February 1996, pp. 4-7
..."Why Breastfeeding Should Be Encouraged in Family Law Cases
Many people may wonder why encouraging breastfeeding in family law cases is so important. To answer this question, one must first ask why breastfeeding is important at all. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF recommend that babies be breastfed for at least one year, and preferably until age two or beyond. As James T. Grant, the former Executive Director of UNICEF, wrote in the July/August 1994 issue of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative Newsletter:
'Study after study now shows, for example, that babies who are not breastfed have higher rates of death, meningitis, childhood leukemia and other cancers, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, bacterial and viral infections, diarrhoeal diseases, otitis media, allergies, obesity, and developmental delays. Women who do not breastfeed demonstrate a higher risk for breast and ovarian cancers.' " ...
Breast-feeding: Pumping and maintaining your milk supply
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Mar 15, 2008
"Breast-feeding is based on supply and demand. The more you breast-feed your baby, the more milk your breasts will produce. The same goes for pumping milk while you're away from your baby."
"Breastfeeding and Mother-Infant Separation:
Independent Predictors of Child Abuse and Neglect"
Lane Strathearn, MBBS, FRACP
Developmental Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine/
Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, TX
From abstract: "It is hypothe-sized that, in human mothers, breastfeeding will be associated with a reduced incidence of
child abuse and neglect, whilst prolonged mother-infant separation will increase the risk."
Read more here:
I am slowly gathering information as to what the mothers and babies may need to sustain breastfeeding and/or pumping and storing the breastmilk. The Texas Breastfeeding Coalition is in the process of gathering information as well. The main goal is to keep the babies healthy and provide them with their mother's breastmilk, and because separation may be likely for an unknown amount of time they will probably be in need of breast pumps and supplies. I will keep the blog up to date when we find out more.
FLDS moms ask court to let them stay with nursing children
By Ben Winslow
Published: Monday, April 21, 2008 1:49 p.m. MDT
SAN ANGELO, Texas — A group of mothers from the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch have filed court papers, demanding their rights to pray in private and stay with their nursing children.
The motion for a temporary restraining order was filed in 51st District Court today by attorneys for Charlotte Johnson, Suzanne Johnson, Sarah Johnson, Angela Harker and other mothers of children taken from the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado.
"Some of respondent mothers are currently parenting children under the age of 2 years of age and are still breastfeeding," the motion said.
The motion demands that the women and children be allowed to pray in private without having a Texas Department of Family and Protective Services worker overseeing them.
"Without exception, respondent mothers have reported that the department will not let them pray without being monitored by the department," attorney Andrea Sloan wrote, asking the judge to allow the women and children 30 minutes in the morning and again at night to pray in private.
Attorneys are also pushing to keep a group of nursing mothers from being separated from their children, pending the results of DNA testing under way in San Angelo.
The women's attorneys said that when cell phones were taken from the women, they lost the ability to communicate effectively with their clients. The cell phones were taken the day after members of the FLDS Church inside the Fort Concho shelter spoke out to the Deseret News, complaining of cramped conditions.
The women provided the Deseret News with photographs taken by a cell phone to show the conditions. Shortly afterward, they were all moved to the San Angelo Coliseum, where some of the children have remained. Many of the women have been sent back to the YFZ Ranch.
A hearing on the motion is scheduled to be heard this afternoon.
Authorities began collecting DNA samples Monday morning from children taken from the ranch, the Texas Attorney General's Office said.
The children were to be given a cheek swab, then photographed and fingerprinted. They have each been assigned a number to identify them and the sample they gave.
"We began the process this morning and anticipate working on this throughout the week," said Janece Rolfe, a spokeswoman for the Texas attorney general. "It will be about 30 days to receive results, maybe a little longer."
Judge Barbara Walther signed court papers this morning ordering the DNA samples.
"The Court finds that an unknown number of males of reproductive age reside, or have resided, at the ranch during the probable time of conception of one or more of the children the subject of this suit," her order says. "The court further finds that an unknown number of females of child bearing age reside, or have resided at the ranch and could be the mother of one or more children the subject of this suit."
The order lists the hundreds of names of parents and children that are known at the YFZ Ranch, including FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, who it lists as being in "prison."
The parents on the YFZ Ranch are expected to show up at the Schleicher County Memorial Building in Eldorado on Tuesday to give a DNA sample. At the makeshift shelter at the San Angelo Coliseum and the Cal Farley Boy's Ranch, where the FLDS children have been staying since they were taken into state custody, children were giving samples.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said it is still having trouble identifying individual children and who their parents are.
"We're still not getting names," said child protective services spokesman Greg Cunningham. "We don't know who are siblings, mothers, fathers."
The raid on the YFZ Ranch was prompted by a phone call to a San Angelo family crisis center from a 16-year-old girl who claimed she was abused, pregnant and married to a 50-year-old man. Authorities have not been able to identify her, but said that when they went onto the ranch to investigate the complaint they found signs of other children being abused.
That led to the judge's order removing all 416 children from the ranch. Last week, Walther ordered that all children will remain in state custody.
Once the DNA samples are gathered, Cunningham said they will move forward with placing the children in foster care.
"We've got some of the placements lined up, but we're still waiting for some guidance from the court," he said.
Child protective services said the children will be kept in groups, including teenage mothers with their children and siblings grouped together. The children would likely not be going to a typical foster home, Cunningham said.
"It's a home-type setting. A majority of them would go to a residential facility," he said. "There are several different options out there."
Authorities refused to discuss how the children would be transitioned from the San Angelo Coliseum to foster care because of security reasons.
Outside the coliseum today, the police presence has been heavy. Texas state troopers, Tom Green County sheriff's deputies, San Angelo police and unmarked patrol cars have all been seen circling the large parking lot surrounding the building.
E-mail: email@example.com, Original Article: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695272498,00.html