DALLAS — The DeSoto newborn taken from her parents by Child Protective Services (CPS) two weeks ago in a dispute over treatment for jaundice has been returned to her family on the eve of a court hearing that was to determine next steps in the case.
The Afiya Center, a Dallas-based birth and reproductive justice organization that has been representing Temecia and Rodney Jackson, says that now 1-month-old Mila Jackson is being released back to her parents ahead of the scheduled hearing that was set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20.
"Public pressure and illuminating violations of our most fundamental rights works," said Marsha Jones, executive director of The Afiya Center.
"Mila is finally on her way back where she belongs. But this never should have happened in the first place," she said.
Mila was born at the Jackson's home on March 21. Three days later, they took the infant for a well-child checkup at their Baylor Scott & White pediatrician. The parents say the nurse practitioner who examined Mila gave them a clean bill of health.
But later that day, Temecia Jackson said she began receiving messages from Baylor Scott & White Dr. Anand Bhatt. The doctor said Mila had jaundice with dangerously high levels of bilirubin -- which is a yellowish substance made during the body's normal process of breaking down old red blood cells. Dr. Bhatt suggested the parents bring Mila to the hospital for phototherapy, a standard jaundice treatment.
In his letter to CPS, Dr. Bhatt stated, "I filed a case report with CPS after trying 10 attempts to appeal to the family through phone calls, text messages and leaving voicemails as they did not pick up the phone."
"Parents are very loving and they care dearly about their baby," the doctor wrote. "Their distrust for medical care and guidance has led them to make a decision for the baby to refuse a simple treatment that can prevent brain damage."
"I authorized the support of CPS to help get this baby the care that was medically necessary and needed," the letter continued.
CPS agreed. In its own statement, it wrote: "Due to the parents being unwilling to discuss the danger and potential consequences of this condition, it is necessary for the Department to intervene."
A CPS investigator, in court documents, detailed repeated attempts on March 25 to contact Rodney Jackson at the family's home "with DeSoto Police Department support." The CPS investigator also said a DeSoto ambulance and DeSoto fire truck also arrived at the home.
Dallas County constables, armed with a court order, helped CPS take Mila from the home on March 28.
"Unlawfully, (they) entered my home to take my baby from me," Temecia Jackson said, as she fought back tears at a Thursday, April 6, news conference held at the Afiya Center in Dallas.
The parents said they were allowed to see their newborn once a week for two hours in supervised visits at a CPS office.
But the Jacksons and their legal team also point out an obvious problem with the affidavit filed with the court that allowed CPS to take Mila: The affidavit used to justify CPS taking custody of the child lists the wrong mom -- a woman with a completely different name, and with a criminal history of child neglect.
Temecia Jackson, who has no criminal record, is not even listed as the child's mother on the affidavit.
"When we receive a report that alleges abuse or neglect of a child by the parent, guardian or person responsible for the child’s care, we are required by the Legislature to investigate," a CPA spokesperson told WFAA. "If the allegation is medical neglect, we rely on the expert opinions of medical professionals – often pediatricians."
"At the outset of any investigation we make a concerted effort to speak with families directly to verify their personal information, and we attempted to do so in this case. The error included in the affidavit was corrected as soon as we became aware of the mistake," CPS said.
"We are relieved that the Jackson family will be reunited, but that doesn't undo the harm," Pregnancy Justice Staff Attorney Emma Roth said. "Time and again in our work, we see the 'child welfare system' weaponized to police pregnancy and separate families after delivery. The Jacksons' ordeal shows the trauma of the hospital-to-CPS pipeline, which terrorizes Black families. This should never have happened, and we're overjoyed Mila is home where she belongs."
A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services tells WFAA that "DFPS recommended dismissal of this case to the Assistant District Attorney." A "motion for nonsuit" was filed Thursday.
As for what happens next, Marsha Jones with The Afiya Center says the Jackson family won't get justice until everyone involved in Mila's removal from her home "is held accountable."