by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News
They kicked her out of the hospital and took her baby away from her over a month ago. She hasn’t seen her since. They won’t even tell her where her daughter is. Jamie Martin took her baby Hope to the hospital because she and the doctors were concerned about Hope not gaining weight, no matter what they tried. Instead of finding answers, she lost her baby and she is devastated. Now DHS of Oklahoma is trying to terminate Jamie’s parental rights to her baby girl.
“I have done nothing wrong to my baby. She is my miracle child. I need my daughter back!”
Jamie Martin is the typical girl-next-door in America’s heartland. Before this pregnancy, she worked as a substitute teacher in her local elementary school. She volunteers and is on the board of a tornado disaster relief organization. She chaperones kids’ field trips to the zoo and dresses up as an Easter bunny for the local library. Her 8 year old son was thrilled when he found out that he was going to be a big brother.
Yet now Jamie has found herself in the middle of every parent’s worst nightmare – her baby has been taken away from her.
Weight Issues Began After Birth
Hope Elizabeth Marie Martin was born on September 15, 2014, and weighed a healthy 7 lbs, 5 oz. She had difficulty breastfeeding, so Jamie began pumping her milk to give her baby. Her son had also experienced difficulties with nursing at first, but everything worked itself out with him. However, Hope lost 12% of her body weight before leaving the hospital. She was discharged anyway after receiving all of her standard vaccines. After consulting with a family doctor, Jamie began supplementing with formula. Hope threw up at every feeding, no matter what she ate.
ER Visit Creates New Problems
By the time Hope was 5 days old, she had not yet had any bowel movements following the initial one after birth. Concerned that this was not normal, Jamie took her to the Emergency Room at OU Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City. Her boyfriend and son were with them, as the ER physician examined her, inserting 2 fingers into her rectum to examine her. Jamie reports that they were horrified, but the doctor assured them that the bleeding was normal. Her anus was torn from the exam, and her mother reports that she cried a lot when it happened.
By two months of age, it reportedly “progressed into a full-blown rectal prolapse.” At Christmastime, Jamie met with a pediatric surgeon about the prolapse. She was told that Hope would likely outgrow it by the time she was 2 to 4 years old. It was “bad,” and “they said if I had to continue pushing her colon back inside then they would consider doing surgery.”
Happy Baby Bonded with Big Brother
Despite all this, Jamie reports that Hope was a happy baby. She choked up as she described the sweet relationship between her 2 children. They bonded immediately. When he first saw her in the hospital, he smiled at her as he held her, and she smiled back at him. Since then, she says that they will sit and smile and laugh at each other, like they have their own language for each other. It is “amazing,” according to their mom.
Weight Issues Continue and Hope Is Hospitalized
Hope remained tiny, and still threw up at every feeding. Jamie stayed in close contact with their family doctor, and they tried changing formulas, changing the timing of feedings from 2 to 4 hours, and trying different amounts at a time. Nothing she tried made a difference. She kept careful records of every feeding and all output. In January, she was admitted to the hospital for a 5 day period. They ran a number of tests, including a cystic fibrosis test, but they all came up negative.They switched formulas again.
After they came home from the hospital, they took Hope in to the pediatrician for weekly weight checks. On February 6, Hope was readmitted to UA Children’s Hospital because she still was not gaining weight, no matter what her mother did.
DHS Steps In
At the hospital, they changed Hope’s formula again, but she wouldn’t take it. On the 11th, they inserted a feeding tube. On the 13th of February, things got much worse.
By this time, they had inserted a catheter into Hope’s body, twice, and there was some irritation to her sensitive skin. She was also having a problem with painful bowel movements. During one particularly difficult episode, she began bleeding while urinating. Jamie was on one side of the crib and her boyfriend was on the other as they tried to console her. She says that her boyfriend was putting a couple of diaper wipes over her diaper area to absorb the blood, when a nurse walked in and accused them of sexual abuse.
While DHS and the authorities came into the room, Jamie wanted the doctors to figure out where the blood was coming from. An ultrasound reportedly revealed that there was debris in her bladder.
Nevertheless, DHS was already there. They demanded that the family keep the hospital room door open at all times, and that a nurse supervise all diaper changes. This demand reportedly resulted in baby Hope lying in soiled diapers for longer times than she would have otherwise. Sometimes they would have to wait a half hour for a nurse to come in to supervise the diaper changes.
Jamie thought things were settling down, and she finally got Hope to take a bottle several times on February 20th. Then DHS abruptly came in again at 6:30 that Friday evening and seized custody, kicking Jamie out of the hospital. When she got someone to agree to let her say goodbye to her baby, she found that the social worker had already abandoned the bottle and was feeding her through her feeding tube.
The allegations are failure to thrive, and lack of supervision on the part of Jamie and her boyfriend. The failure to thrive diagnosis is the reason that Hope’s mother brought her the hospital, looking for answers that never came.
The charge of lack of supervision has to do with Hope’s preferred comfort measure. Ever since she was about a month old, Jamie reports that she somehow manages to pull her receiving blanket up over her head whenever possible. They have tried to stop it, and remove the blanket from over her face when she does it, but to no avail. One of her doctors reportedly observed Hope pulling the blanket over her face all by herself, and told them that he isn’t concerned because she is still moving and breathing under there. Other doctors on the team were allegedly unconcerned as well. One of the nurses, however, was allegedly very unhappy with them over the blanket, accusing Jamie of deliberately covering her up and trying to hurt her baby. Jamie readily agreed to an pulse oximeter, which would detect if the blanket were causing breathing issues.
Jamie described the frustration of one of Hope’s physicians, who allegedly came into the hospital room and threw the charts in the air, telling the nurses that a mother who keeps track like this of the baby’s feedings is not abusing her child.
Police allegedly investigated allegations of sexual abuse, which arose from the vaginal area bleeding following the catheters, and the rectal prolapse, which began happening after the exam in the ER which tore her according to Jamie. Jamie says that DHS appeared to be ignoring the records of that ER visit. Earlier this week the police investigation concluded, allegedly saying that there was no evidence of sexual assault and that the case is closed. However, DHS still has her baby, and is proceeding with the attempt to terminate Jamie’s parental rights.
Genetic Component Ignored
Since DHS initially came into the situation on February 13, Jamie believes that the search for the reasons for her baby’s lack of gaining weight has halted. During the week before they seized custody, Jamie teamed up with family members to try to research any possible causes for Hope’s issues. They realized that several family members have experienced similar “failure to thrive” issues that were eventually overcome, her little brother included. She says that her mother had tried all kinds of different formula’s with him. He finally was able to keep down goat’s milk. However, Hope’s doctor nixed the option of goat’s milk. He also said no to the suggestion of adding cereal or baby food to Hope’s diet.
Jamie’s paternal uncle’s daughter had similar issues and was put on a feeding tube. Her half-sister’s daughter’s baby was diagnosed with failure to thrive because she wasn’t absorbing nutrients. In each of the cases, Child Protective Services was called in, and the family members had to fight for their children. They each won their battles and their children are thriving today.
There is a newborn screening test that Jamie says was not done on Hope, for a genetic condition called methylmalonic acidemia (MMA disease). She believes that the symptoms appear to fit, but her request for this and other genetic tests have been denied.
This is the same DHS department and hospital that seized the children of April and Joshua Whinery, accusing them of abuse, and ignoring the apparent genetic component. Their children remain in DHS custody to this day:
“Degenerative bone disease runs in his family, yet the couple was accused of abuse. Though the family has repeatedly asked for him to be tested, DHS has allegedly refused to allow the test, attempting instead to terminate all of the couple’s parental rights.”
See the Whinery’s story: Oklahoma Takes 3 Children Away from Parents When One is Found with Possible Brittle Bone Disease
A Mother’s Concerns and Suspicions
Before Hope was taken from her parents at the hospital, doctors had directed that her unused IV port be removed. However, it was three days later before that happened. During that time, it was unused and unflushed. When a nurse finally removed it on February 20, Jamie reports that Hope’s skin around it just fell off, and there was an abscess there. Her skin had become very sensitive and wasn’t healing properly.
Jamie is deeply concerned about her daughter, and doesn’t understand why she hasn’t been able to see her baby even once since she was taken on February 20. She believes:
“They’re trying to cover something up. There is something that they’ve done and they don’t want me to know about it.”
Federal Laws about Relative Placement Ignored
Family and friends have been dumbfounded about the treatment of Jamie and her baby. Jamie is a well-respected member of the community, who is always willing to step up and help in times of need.
Despite federal laws that mandate that children taken by Child Protective Services be placed with relatives as a first choice, with friends of the family following, no one in the family knows where baby Hope has been placed. Jamie’s mother has not been permitted to see her grandbaby since the family was removed from the hospital in February. Jamie listed a number of options for her little girl to be placed with, including her mother, brothers, other relatives, and even close friends. Only one friend on the list was even contacted by DHS, but they never heard back from the agency.
Priest Forbidden to See Hope
A Catholic priest has become close to the family through Jamie’s volunteer work with tornado disaster relief. He reportedly attended the emergency hearing after Hope was taken, requesting a visit with Hope for religious reasons. He was denied.
Parental Termination Hearing Fast-track
It was on February 20, 2015, that DHS took custody of baby Hope. She is very much loved by her family, who is distraught over not seeing their tiniest loved one. Her brother keeps asking when his sister will come home.
Yet if DHS has their way, he will never see her again. The family has been offered no reunification plan, treatment plan, or steps that they can do to get her back. They haven’t even seen her once since that dark day in February, nor have they received any information about her whereabouts.
On March 25, Jamie was notified that the state intends to terminate her parental rights to Hope, an option that is unthinkable to Jamie and her family. The arraignment hearing is set for April 1 at 10:30 am, at the Cleveland County Courthouse in Norman, Oklahoma. The address is 200 S Peters Ave, Norman, OK 73069.
There is a Facebook page set up by supporters to show support and encourage the family as they face this battle, called Hope Inspires “Hope“. She currently has a court-appointed attorney and is trying to raise funds to hire a private attorney.
Mary Fallin is the Governor of Oklahoma, and may be reached at (405) 521-2342. She can be contacted via email here.
Jamie Martin’s Congressman is Representative Josh Cockroft. He may be reached at (405) 557-7349 or contacted here.
The Senator for her district is Senator Rob Standridge. He may be reached at (405) 521-5535 or contacted here.
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