After spending sixteen months under the care of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, a Massachusetts judge has ordered that 16-year-old Justina Pelletier will be officially returned to her parents in Connecticut Wednesday.
Benswann.com began following the story of Pelletier last November, when it was discovered that Boston’s Children’s Hospital had been holding her against the will of her parents for nine months. The custody battle began when Pelletier was taken to Boston’s Children’s Hospital for flu symptoms after receiving long-term treatment at Tufts Medical Center for mitochondrial disease.
Doctors at Boston’s Children’s Hospital challenged the diagnosis of mitochondrial disease and diagnosed Pelletier instead with somatoform disorder, which is a psychological disorder. Pelletier’s parents, Lou and Linda, disagreed with the new diagnosis and treatment, which included halting the use of several medications that Justina had been prescribed. Lou and Linda were frustrated by the decision of Boston’s Children’s Hospital, which was made without the involvement of Pelletier’s specialist who had been treating Justina for over a year.
Lou and Linda’s objection to the somatoform diagnosis led to their attempt to remove Justina from Boston’s Children’s Hospital and seek treatment for their daughter elsewhere, followed by Massachusetts DCF being alerted by the hospital about suspicion of medical abuse from Lou and Linda.
Massachusetts DCF intervened and took custody of Justina, and after spending time in a psychiatric ward she was placed in a treatment facility in Connecticut where she had limited visitation with her parents.
In Judge Joseph Johnston’s order, he wrote:
I find that the parties have shown by credible evidence that circumstances have changed since the adjudication on December 20, 2013, that Justina is a child in need of care and protection pursuant to G.L. c. 119, §§ 24-26. Effective Wednesday, June 18, 2014, this care and protection petition is dismissed and custody of Justina is returned to her parents, Linda and Lou Pelletier.
“We are thrilled that Justina will finally be returning home,” said Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, who worked on behalf of the Pelletiers to bring Justina home. “The family looks forward to putting this 16-month nightmare behind them. Justina and her family now begins the process of healing both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”
Justina said in an interview that she’s excited to get back to normal activities like swimming, visiting her friends, and playing with her dogs. “I’m so happy. I’m so excited, oh, my gosh,” said Justina. “It’s such big news.”