Mother collapses, father angry when sick daughter, 15, is ordered into foster care

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BOSTON —  The parents of a 15-year-old girl who was ordered into foster care by a judge reacted intensely Monday after hearing the ruling.

“I was with the family when that happened,” said Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition. “I am saying what the family said. It was very emotional. So, I want to qualify everything I say. It is an even worse case scenario than what’s been happening.”

Linda Pelletier fainted inside the Boston courthouse Monday after learning that a judge ordered her daughter placed into foster care. She was taken away on a stretcher. Her husband, Lou Pelletier, had occasional angry outbursts.

Justina Pelletier, 15, is at the center of a custody battle that has been going on since February 2013 between hospitals, the Department of Children and Families, and Pelletier’s parents.

Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital had reported suspicions of child abuse after she was admitted for symptoms related to mitochondrial disease.

According to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, symptoms include loss of motor control, muscle weakness, gastrointestinal disorders, poor growth, respiratory complications, seizures, developmental delays and more.

Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital dismissed the mitochondrial diagnosis and thought she instead had somatoform disorder, a mental disorder.

The Pelletiers received a second opinion that said she in fact suffered from mitochondrial disorder. Still, the state assumed custody of Justina.

Justina was initially placed in a psychiatric ward of The Children’s Hospital, and then moved to Wayside Youth and Family Support Network. With this latest order from the Department of Children and Families, she will be moved into foster care.

“Well you can imagine, a mother and father that see their daughter in a dire medical condition. And they’re unable to be able to take a photograph of her, and they’re unable to have unsupervised visitation accept one hour a week. And they see their daughter in suffering and pain, and they’re not able to do something about it. So, That has obviously taken a toll on the family over the past year,” said Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel founder.

The next hearing is set for March 17. In the meantime, the parents are under a gag order.

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