Texas parents Tamesia and Rodney Jackson allege that after they gave birth at home and chose to treat their day-old child at home for jaundice, their pediatrician reported them to authorities, setting off a chain of events that led to Rodney Jackson’s brief arrest. did and the child is being placed in foster care.
The Jacksons, who have two grown children and live in the Dallas suburb of Desoto, elected to have a home birth after Temecia Jackson’s two previous cesarean sections, the couple’s midwife, licensed professional counselor Cheryl Edinbyrd, told CBS News. Edinbard said she first began caring for the Jacksons in September 2022 through The Tree of Life Wellness Center. Their daughter, Mila Jackson, was born on March 21, 2023.
The Jacksons declined to speak to CBS News, but Edinburgh said Mila was born in the family’s bathtub and described the birth as “beautiful.” There were no signs of jaundice in the first 24 hours, Edinbard said. The midwife, who said she has attended more than 100 births, said follow-ups were scheduled for days three and five after Miller’s birth.
On March 24, the Jacksons brought their daughter to the office of Dr. Anand Bhatt, their pediatrician of 12 years. At a news conference Thursday, Jackson described the visit as a “newborn checkup.”
Press Conference: NGAN and Afia Center https://t.co/Qkhqi812Fd
— The Afiya Center (@TheAfiyaCenter) April 6, 2023
“At that visit, we were told ‘everything is fine, she looks great, the only thing is she’s jaundiced,'” said Tamesia Jackson. Jaundice is fairly normal in newborns. “A few hours later, the pediatrician called my phone and wanted to admit Mila to the hospital.”
An affidavit filed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said Bhatt contacted the agency on March 25. DFPS Investigator Brenda Martinez spoke with Bhatt and said that in an interview he told her that a bilirubin test – which is used to check for health conditions such as jaundice, anemia and liver disease – showed a bilirubin level of 21.7 milligrams. Bhatt told Martinez that this level is “a cause of great concern” and could lead to brain damage, “because bilirubin can cross the blood-brain barrier.” According to the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics, any level above 20 milligrams in a child Miller’s age at that time would mean the child needs treatment.
DFPS said it could not comment on the case. A representative from Bhatt’s practice declined to comment, citing patient confidentiality. Bhatt is a board-certified pediatrician who is also affiliated with Baylor Scott and White Medical Center and other local medical facilities.
Edinbard did not join the Jacksons at the pediatrician’s office, but said Temesia Jackson called her shortly after leaving the office to update her on the bilirubin levels because Edinbard was still their care provider. Edinbard told CBS News that he found the bilirubin level to be “high” but not critical.
The Mayo Clinic website says that “mild infant jaundice” often goes away on its own, but warns that “moderate or severe” cases may require hospitalization of children. Home remedies for jaundice include improved nutrition, light therapy with special devices (also known as phototherapy), or transfusions. Edinbard said the family has already ordered a blanket and goggles to provide light therapy. Phototherapy can be done at home or in a hospital. At home this is done using a blanket, also known as a billyblanket, that uses fiber optics to bathe the baby’s skin in light, according to Kaiser Permanente, a health care center, to treat jaundice at home.
According to court documents, when Martinez spoke with Bhatt, she told him that after seeing Jackson, she decided to secure a bed for Mila at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and asked the family to bring her there. He said he told the family he would call the police for a welfare check if he didn’t show up. At the press conference, Temesia Jackson said she received multiple calls and texts from the pediatrician, including one on March 24 at 11:00 p.m. in which Bhatt said they were “going against what we think we should do for her child. “. and warns the parents that she will call the Department of Family and Protection if they don’t bring Mila to the hospital.
Baylor, Scott and White Health
“Woke up to the police knocking on our door”
Court documents show that around 4 a.m. on March 25, Martinez and two DeSoto police officers went to Jackson’s home. Rodney Jackson refused to talk to them without an “agreement,” and both Martinez and the officer left, according to the document. Court documents say the “outcome” of the welfare check was “unknown.”
An hour later, according to Martinez’s notes in the affidavit filed by DFPS, Martinez returned to the home with officers, a fire truck and an ambulance to take the child away. Rodney Jackson again refused to open the door and the officers left the home again.
The documents show that a program director at DFPS authorized the removal of the four-day-old child. A supervisor ordered Martinez to take Mila into custody “due to her health being at immediate risk of serious long-term consequences.”
After the visit, Rodney Jackson called Bhatt to say he was “very upset” and that he and his wife “planned to take care of their baby as usual,” court documents show. He allegedly told Bhatt that they “don’t believe in modern medicine,” which Bhatt said he understood, according to the DFPS affidavit. Their doctor, however, urged them to go to the hospital again.
At their press conference, the Jacksons said they felt “terrified” by this first sighting.
Temesia Jackson said, “We were traumatized. We woke up at 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. to the police knocking on our door.”
On March 30, officers returned to the home with a warrant. Rodney Jackson, who was not home at the time, was arrested upon his return. Court documents show he was charged with one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of obstructing the execution of a civil process DeSoto police did not respond to multiple requests for comment from CBS News.
Jackson and Edinbard said that when Rodney Jackson was arrested, his keys were removed and police entered the home and took Mila away from Temecia Jackson. Since then, the child has been in foster care.
“I called my husband and told him the police were outside. He immediately turned around and came home. He was met by six constables who demanded that they let them into our house, and they issued a writ,” Temesia Jackson said. said . “My husband said he wouldn’t let them into the house but if they had a writ they could do whatever they had to do. He made sure we didn’t block the front door or anything like that. The constables chose. To arrest my husband. So that they can take her keys and use her keys to illegally enter my house and come and take my baby away from me.”
Temecia Jackson said during the press conference that she was afraid her baby was “stolen” because the baby still does not have a birth certificate because he was born at home.
“This loving, caring family is terrified.”
Temesia Jackson was not listed on the warrant used to justify Miller’s removal: it named a different woman as the child’s mother and listed a different man as the child’s legal father. Rodney Jackson has been named as the “alleged” father of the child. Edinbard, who was present at the birth, said Miller’s parents did not have a dispute and said the family did not know people on the form. CBS News is not naming the individuals in the document.
“They (Temesia) served a writ that didn’t have her name on it… (the other woman) doesn’t live there. They don’t even know who (she) is,” Edinbard said. “But they took her baby with an affidavit that included (another woman’s) name.”
The family was scheduled to have a hearing on their child on April 6, but it was postponed two weeks later to April 20 due to confusion over who would represent the Jackson family. Edinbard said Temesia Jackson was able to see her child under supervision once a week.
The two eldest children of the family were not taken out of the house.
The Afia Center, a Texas reproductive and birth justice organization that is representing the Jacksons and organizing their press conference, called the incident “a direct attack on black mothers and fathers, black families and midwives — and black midwives in particular” in a statement. Shared with CBS News.
“Our state already has a brutal track record of removing black children from their homes, with horrific consequences. Now this loving, caring family is terrified that they will fall into this category,” the agency said. “We are dedicated to improving maternal and child health outcomes and families like Jackson’s. We support midwives and the enormous role they play in improving maternal and prenatal and child health. Care options and we stand in solidarity with them.”