A B.C. couple who made headlines when their newborn daughter was taken by the B.C. government aren’t celebrating her first birthday today, and dad still hasn’t met their infant son also seized shortly after birth.
“It’s hard,” said the children’s father who is Chilcotin. “It’s not easy to put into words how heartbreaking it is. It’s tearing me up inside.”
The couple says it was a rollercoaster year that saw them break up over the stress of losing their daughter also known as “Baby H.”
‘Baby H’ was apprehended by Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFS) social workers who deemed the mother neglectful, 90 minutes after enduring a C-section delivery.
The couple was able to reconcile and have a second child together on May 12 – only to see the baby boy come nearly a month early and be seized from an incubator despite B.C. claiming to be the first province to ban controversial “birth alerts.”
When asked about the boy’s apprehension seeming to contradict the government’s claim, MCFD issued this statement to APTN News.
“Ending the practice of birth alerts means the ministry does not share the personal information of expectant parents without their consent. Our priority is to offer strong, voluntary supports to expectant parents before their baby is born. Despite the availability of these voluntary supports prior to birth, protection concerns may still occur once the child is born. Anyone – including health professionals, community and family – who believes an infant needs protection has a duty to report that to the ministry,” the statement said.
“Once a report is received social workers are required by law to assess and investigate that report and take whatever action is required to ensure the infant’s safety. If a child must be removed to protect their safety and well-being, the ministry is required by law to promptly make all reasonable efforts to notify each parent of the removal. The notice must, if practicable, be in writing and include a statement of the reasons for removing the child.”
Baby H was the couple’s first child so they didn’t have a history with the child welfare agency.
But the family said she was taken after hospital staff felt mom wasn’t responsive enough after surgery, and the father says the agency used that fact to take their newborn son, too.
READ MORE: B.C. CFS moves in to seize 90-minute-old baby on report of neglect
“They’ve done everything they can to separate this family,” the dad said.
APTN is prevented from identifying the family because the children are in care.
MCFD won’t comment on reasons for taking either child, citing privacy laws.
The paternal grandfather says “the theft” of Baby H emotionally and mentally devastated the couple, and it happened again with the apprehension of their newborn son.
“MFCD is refusing to allow either parent to see him,” he said. “Playing the (COVID-19) game.”
READ MORE: B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ but families question what it means for babies already in care
The agency wouldn’t comment on anything to do with either child’s case.
Despite MCFD saying parents have to be notified in writing why children are seized, the father says that hasn’t happened. He says he’s never been told why his children can’t be raised by their parents or what concerns for safety or well-being the child welfare authority has.
“I’ve received no explanation as to why they showed up and stole my children,” he said. “I honestly have no idea why, or what to do.”
Each parent has a lawyer provided by Legal Aid as the matter moves through the courts.
The grandfather said the family is trying to raise money to hire a private lawyer, because they are frustrated the Legal Aid system doesn’t act meaningfully for its clients.
A petition for the return of Baby H was started after her apprehension and has almost 5,000 signatures.