Frontline News last week covered the hasty moves by Idaho’s Child Protective Services (CPS) in the case of Baby Cyrus in Medical Kidnapping? Breast milk-dependent infant deteriorates in state custody.
Temporary custody was given to a foster family and a hearing set for April for the next phase. Frontline News sent an inquiry (below) to Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen, after which the baby was promptly returned.
The saga unfolded last week when, within hours of missing a routine weigh-in for an underweight 10-month-old child, Cyrus’ parents were swarmed upon by a huge police force. The parents explained that the mother had cold symptoms and would not have been allowed into the clinic. They promised to bring the baby to a weigh-in the next day but to no avail.
This, despite the fact that the parents proactively did everything possible to nourish a baby that cannot keep down food other than breast milk. They had previously brought Baby Cyrus to the hospital and had searched for alternative food sources. In fact, hospital records indicate that Cyrus was sufficiently healthy for discharge immediately after his seizure.
What does the other side say?
Frontline News therefore followed up the initial article with a set of inquiries directed to Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen.
As of press time, Jeppesen has not responded to any of the 20 questions in the below letter we sent to his public email address on Friday.
However, we note that soon after we emailed our letter, Cyrus was returned to his parents, albeit with severe restrictions.
We are reporting on the recent seizure of the baby Cyrus of Marissa and Levi Anderson by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, of which you are listed as the director and which has garnered public criticism.
We request that you share with us any comments you would like to make about this case and that you specifically answer these questions:
Evidence of abuse?
- Is there any evidence, in his medical records or elsewhere, of abuse, endangerment or neglect of Cyrus other than the mere fact that he is underweight?
2. Do Cyrus’ medical records indicate that his weight issue is due to digestive problems, e.g., that he vomits after being given food other than breast milk?
3. Do Cyrus’ medical records from St. Luke’s Hospital state that, immediately after his seizure by law enforcement authorities, Cyrus,
was brought to the Meridian ED for evaluation. Health and welfare identified a foster family but due to the protesters surrounding the hospital regarding this case, it was felt that discharge with the foster family from the ED was unsafe for all involved. For this reason, the patient was transferred to Boise for further care. [Cyrus’ family published this image of the medical record to demonstrate its authenticity]:
4. If that is an accurate reflection of the hospital records, then why didn’t the fact that Cyrus was healthy enough for discharge indicate to your agency that he was not in a dangerous situation with his parents, and why was foster care already arranged before his evaluation by health care workers?
5. Is this an accurate transcript of the statement of a doctor from St. Luke’s Hospital to Levi Anderson on March 15th, 2022:
We haven’t identified any really serious medical condition that is causing him to have trouble gaining weight. The thinking is he got behind on his nutrition [from the vomiting], and then his breastfeeding was just burning so many calories that he just couldn’t keep up, so he kind of got behind … Our team is thinking right now that taking breastmilk through a bottle right now is working really well, and that’s a great place to help keep his nutrition up, gradually increasing the amount of actual breastfeeding he is doing. So what is it that puts him at a spot where he’s ready for discharge? He’s hit all of those medical goals that would typically allow for a discharge.
6. If that is an accurate reflection of the hospital records, then why wouldn’t vomiting following the ingestion of non-breast milk foods indicate that Cyrus’ weight issue is not the result of abuse?
7. Did you want Cyrus’ mother to come to a medical clinic while showing cold symptoms during the pandemic (on the one day, March 11, 2022, that she canceled Cyrus’ daily weigh-in at the Functional Medicine of Idaho clinic)?
8. If not, why did your agency not accept that cancellation as legitimate and allow Cyrus’ parents to bring him for a weigh-in the next morning, March 12, 2022, rather than demand that he be brought immediately to Faces of Hope Victim Center’s Triage and Support Center for victims of domestic and sexual violence and other forms of child abuse?
9. Was the decision to seize Cyrus after his parents did not bring him to the child abuse center based in part or in whole on the the fact that his parents were not cooperating with a sudden request made by your agency, as opposed to an actual danger to the child?
10. What safeguards do you have in place to monitor whether Cyrus is safer with foster parents than with his parents, in light of the fact that children are much more likely to die or be abused in foster care than in parental care. [The online Know Your Family Rights Handbook created this table comparing abuse by biological parents with that by foster parents from statistics gathered by The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN)]:
11. Did your agency request that the hearings in Cyrus’ case be closed to the public despite the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges' support for presumptively open hearings? If so, why?
Conflict of Interest
12. How much money will your agency receive if Cyrus is permanently placed in foster care, put up for adoption or otherwise removed from his parent’s custody?
13. What percentage of the budget of your agency’s subdivision, the Child and Family Services and Foster Care, is funded by payments that are only made on a per-child adoption/foster care basis? How many employees would be laid off or see their salaries reduced if each of the children were left in their parents’ custody?
14. How much of the funds received by your agency would be matching funds from the federal government for foster care or adoption? [The 2022 figures for federal funding of foster care ($5,8 billion) and adoption ($3,7 billion) are not broken down on a per-child basis, although an $85,000 per-child adoption figure (in addition to State “bonuses”) was provided by Oregon prosecutor Robert Weidner in 2008].
15. How much money is Cyrus’ foster family now receiving and how much will they receive, per month, if Cyrus is permanently placed with them?
16. What safeguards do you have in place to prevent foster families from creating a conflict of interest by giving monetary or non-monetary gifts to your agency’s employees, or otherwise having what the late Georgia State Senator Nancy Schaefer described as an “inappropriate relationship with a caseworker?”
17. Was your government agency, or its subdivision, the Child and Family Services and Foster Care, aware of the political activism, including publicly advocating for limited government and “Freedom, Liberty, and the founding principles of the United States of America,” of Cyrus’s father, Levi, and his grandfather, Diego Rodriguez, before, during or after the seizure of Cyrus by your agency?
18. What safeguards do you have in place to ensure that parents are not targeted by your agency for their political opinions?
19. What safeguards do you have in place in general to ensure that parents from underprivileged or minority ethnic groups are not disproportionately targeted for child seizures in light of the facts that, “In 2019 … African-American children accounted for roughly 14 percent of the child population and 23 percent of the foster care population …” and “roughly one-third of Native American children were being removed from their families by state and federal agencies and being placed with mostly non-Native American, white families or in boarding schools before 1978.”
20. Does your agency plan to oppose the return of Cyrus to his parents at the upcoming court hearing on April 8, 2022? If so, on what grounds will you oppose his return?
We're planning on including your comments, so if there are any alternative versions of the events, responses, or context we should note, our deadline is Sunday at 13:00. Thanks for any information you can share.