Little Falls mother fights for custody of son, joins in call for change in Minnesota law
By: Nora G. Hertel June 11, 2018
LITTLE FALLS — Amanda Weber took her 10-month-old to the hospital in May for a persistent cough. She lost custody of him a couple days later.
She has joined an association of parents who claim Minnesota's child protection laws are unconstitutional and overly vague.
The group, called Stop Child Protection Services from Legally Kidnapping, sued the state in April and filed an amended complaint last week.
In Weber's case, a hearing Monday at the Morrison County Courthouse ended with a judge scheduling another hearing later this week. She hopes to regain custody of her youngest child then.
Weber said she does feel as though her son has been kidnapped.
"I was forced to hand my son over to a complete stranger based on allegations that I could prove were completely wrong," Weber told the Times in an interview last week.
In court documents, Weber and county officials tell different versions of what happened before Weber lost custody of her son. Social Services investigated Weber in March, when someone reported she left her kids home alone — a claim she denied — according to the county's petition.
In her official response, Weber claims a Morrison County social worker and a primary care physician acted "in bad faith and with malice" and that the social worker fabricated evidence.
Some parents rise against broad power of child protection services
Dwight Mitchell, the man spearheading the lawsuit against the state, said officials have too much leeway in deciding to remove a child from the home.
His kids were held by social services after he was reported for spanking one of them in 2014. When they were returned to his care, he told the Times last week, the family moved out of Minnesota to New Jersey.
"You have to give parents notice. You have to tell them what you can and cannot do," Mitchell said. "The statutes are vague and over-broad."
The suit seeks an immediate change in the law.
After a press conference about it last week, more parents clamored to join the Stop Child Protective Services association , Mitchell said. There are about 50 witnesses from more than 20 Minnesota counties supporting his lawsuit, he said.
Little Falls case started with a hospital visit
Weber's son was placed in foster care nearly three weeks ago.
Weber took her son, who had been diagnosed in October with sleep apnea, to the hospital last month because he had a persistent cough. After a night in the hospital, Weber signed him out before a full discharge.
The county's petition claims Weber denied her son necessary medical services, which she refutes. She points to other medical records and reports that her son was otherwise healthy.
A Morrison County Social Services official said Monday the department could not discuss the case.
Is it protection or kidnapping?
Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper took issue with the use of the word "kidnapping" by the parental association.
"Every day, trained professionals in counties across Minnesota go to work to protect our children and families. To call their work 'kidnapping' is an affront to the extraordinary service they perform for all of us, particularly the most vulnerable children in our community," Piper said in a statement released by the department.
The state is working to improve disparities in the child protection system, including changes recommended by the Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children, published in March 2015, she said. "Our highest priority is keeping children safe and Minnesota’s child protection system is an integral part of that work."
Weber will return to court after the judge has time to review additional information, she said Monday afternoon. She thinks she has a good chance of getting her son back then.
And Mitchell is waiting on a federal judge to rule on a June 5 request for a summary judgement — a decision without a trial — in the lawsuit against the state.
Original Article Link: https://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local/2018/06/11/little-falls-woman-minnesota-child-custody-laws-kids-social-services-kidnapping/679286002/