Medical kidnapping. What does it mean?
I had heard of this term before August 2021, but I did not have a deep understanding of what it was, or who was experiencing it. What I discovered after my personal experience, was that this chain of events is happening often within Black and Hispanic communities.
Several times in my life I have come in contact with authorities – whether it was the police, or like this time, healthcare providers – who treated me badly. As a white woman, I remember my interaction with the police making me incredibly angry, and my rebellion wanted me to respond to match their desire to dominate me. I remember clearly thinking that if I was a black man, how worse things would be for me in the scenario.
When I was in the hospital going through my own personal medical kidnapping attempt, I hadn’t done the research yet delving into this but I had done some preliminary reading about it and knew that it was happening in the Black community. But while I was in the hospital, all I could think was – imagine if I was a young black mother without much experience, navigating this horrific predatory profiling – the outcome could have been devastating.
Of all women, black women are the ones dying the most in hospitals.¹ Many black female influencers, whether doulas or midwives or women who have had an experience like I had, are advocating for more home births. Birth is a natural part of life and for many women, it’s something they can do! Hospitals are for when an emergency happens, as it did with me.
Child Protective Services (CPS) and hospitals are working in choreographed sync to take children away from perfectly good parents, who have the best intentions to raise our children in peace, and in a safe home. So it’s incredibly important for families to plan for the worst, and also create the best by taking back the birth story.
“Predatory profiling“ was a term that I found when I heard the story of a baby that went into the hospital with his parents, and the parents had to fight to get out of the hospital. Another major story which brought this to light was the story of baby Ra.² You can learn more about his story at the link at the bottom of my article.
We experienced predatory profiling when we went into the hospital. I was 46 years old and 42 weeks pregnant, however supposedly it’s illegal to go past 42 weeks pregnant in California. I labored at home for 30 hours with a midwife. Our midwife sent an email to the hospital detailing everything that had happened up to that point.
The reason that we went to the hospital was because of multiple complications. My baby’s head was already engaged and coming through my cervix, but basically she was stuck. Within minutes of being at the hospital, my husband had to tell the nurse who was doing the intake that she needed to have a little bit of empathy. However, my husband has a long beard. So clearly we were already renegades.
When I tried to tell the intake nurse that our midwife had sent an email to her, before I even finished my sentence she responded to me, “she cannot come in here.” That was never what I was going to say. My husband stepped in and said, “please, let her finish what she is saying and have some empathy!” She called security because she didn’t like his urgent and upset tone.
One million little things happened in those 24 hours that made me write this story for you. The surgery went well, the team was orchestrated and worked very closely together to make it happen very fast. Hearing her little voice with her pipsqueak cry was the most amazing magical thing for me. We were quickly brought into our room to recover, and to experience skin-to-skin for the first time. Because I had lost a lot of blood, my doctor came in and dosed me with ephedrine through the IV port installed in my arm. I immediately asked what it was that I was being dosed with, and thank God that I asked. I always want to know what drugs are being put in me if I must have them.
The rest of that afternoon was okay, however because my baby was 6 lbs 13 oz, they decided that she was very small and had to check her sugars by pricking her foot to draw blood – which I hated. I felt like my intuition was on high alert, however. I could tell that the staff was treating us weird. I tried to just brush it off as I was coming down from morphine, had been awake at that point for more than two days, and had been cut open – I was feeling incredibly vulnerable.
At midnight, my daughter’s pediatrician came into the room with the results of a blood test that they did on me showing that I popped positive for cannabinoids and amphetamines. They tried to tell me that this was marijuana – which I do not use – and brought me paperwork that asked for my signature regarding these test results. I read the form that had ONE TINY SENTENCE which stated I would “cease doing drugs.” It was clearly an attempt at entrapment. I read it to the pediatrician and asked, “do you see that this is entrapment?” I read and showed it to him, and he said he hadn’t read the whole form and didn’t know what it meant. Yeah, right!
Fast forward through all the people who came in every 30-minutes to a few hours, we were exhausted, upset, and very, very scared. I was cut open and couldn’t leave. Meanwhile, the level of unwelcome harassment began to escalate. CPS was called, even though the staff admitted they dosed me with ephedrine which was what caused the positive amphetamine result. And the cannabinoid was CBD from hemp, which I had been taking to help me sleep. I repeatedly asked to see a copy of the drug test but nobody would produce it for me to see. We finally called one of our lawyer friends who gave us some input on how to get out of the hospital. In those last few hours, we had to fight our way out of the hospital.
What I discovered at the end of this horrific, traumatizing, and painful experience was that this is a very common way that CPS obtains children. I know several women firsthand, who have friends who have lost children permanently through similar situations to CPS and the foster system. It’s very important for expectant mothers and fathers to know what their rights are and to be able to advocate for themselves in the middle of an emergency if there is a need to go to the hospital.
We did as good of a job as we could, evidenced by the fact that we are still in custody of our child. I am including the Instagram account of a Black Doula who delves deep on her page about why planning ahead and trying for home birth is best. She has a package where she offers details on how to create the safest outcome for families in the hospital setting, by creating written documents to give to healthcare providers upon arrival. My hope is that all women have a positive birth experience, setting their offspring up upon a life that started with a beautiful birth within empowerment… healing the stories of pain that ancestors had to endure. Please take the time to look at these links and plan ahead for your own sacred birth.
Instagram: Sacred Birth Doula
Learn more about The Story about Baby Ra
¹ Mary Beth Flanders-Stepans, PhD, RN. “Alarming Racial Differences in Maternal Mortality.” The Journal of Perinatal Education. (Spring 2000).
² Jesse Mendoza & Jay Handelman. “American Idol’ star Syesha Mercado fights for son’s custody over claims of malnutrition.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune. (May 18, 2021).
About the Author
Ana is a new mother that is working to heal childhood stories and bring truth to other families who want to protect their children.