A California couple has a court hearing today after their child was seized by Child Protective Services for reasons that seemingly violate the pair's rights as parents.
Anna and Alex Nikolayev’s five-month old son Sammy was born with a heart murmur. Since his birth, they had been taking Sammy to Sacramento’s Sutter Memorial Hospital for check-ups and examinations. Several weeks ago, the couple took Sammy to the hospital after he displayed flu-like symptoms. He was checked in to the into the hospital’s intensive care unit upon arrival.
Soon after checking in, a nurse walked into the room and gave Sammy an antibiotic shot. Anna asked the nurse why she had given the baby a shot, but the nurse could not provide a clear response to the concerned mother.
“I asked her, ‘For what is that?’” Nikolayev said. “And she’s like ‘I don’t know.’ And then I said ‘You’re working as a nurse and you don’t he know what you’re giving my baby?’”
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Nikolayev spoke with a doctor who confirmed that the baby should not be given antibiotics. The doctor then told Nikolayev that the medical staff needed to perform open-heart surgery on the baby. But Nikolayev was not comfortable with letting the same medical staff that had wrongly given her child antibiotics operate on his heart.
“If [they made] one mistake after another, I don’t want to let my baby have surgery in the hospital where I don’t feel safe,” she said.
The Nikolayev’s rushed Sammy out the hospital without a proper discharge in order to seek a second medical opinion. They drove across town to Kaiser Medical Center in Sacramento.
At Kaiser Medical Center, the medical staff said there was no need for heart surgery and then proceeded to release the infant Sammy back into the care of his parents. But, police showed up at the hospital before the Nikolayev’s went home. Apparently, medical staff from the first hospital, Sutter Memorial, called the police saying the Nikolayev’s had placed their son’s life in danger by taking checking him out without a doctor’s approval. The Nikolayev’s were forced to show police a note from a doctor at Kaiser Medical Center that read “I do not have concern for the safety of the child at home with his parents.”
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The police saw that the baby was fine and left, telling the Nikolayev’s to have a nice day. “The police showed up there. They saw the baby was fine,” Nikolayev said. “They told us that Sutter was telling them so much bad stuff that they thought this baby was dying in our arms. So police saw the report from doctors and said, ‘Okay, you guys have a good day,’ then walked away.”
At this point, the Nikolayev’s likely thought the whole ordeal was over. Unfortunately, it was just getting started.
Two days later, the police stormed into the Nikolayev’s home. The knocked over husband Alex in the driveway. “I was pushed against the building, smacked down,” Alex said. “I said, ‘Am I being placed under arrest?’ He smacked me to the ground and yelled out ‘I think I got the keys to the house!’”
When Anna heard what was happening in the driveway, she quickly set up a video camera in the living room. At least four police offers are seen on the video, barging into the home without a search warrant demanding that the baby be turned over.
“I’m going to grab your baby, and don’t resist, and don’t fight me, okay?” one officer can be heard saying to Anna on the recording.
The police took Sammy and turned him over to Child Protection Services (CPS). The Sacramento Police Department and CPS have both declined to speak on the case, only saying that Sammy was taken due to “severe neglect,” an accusation the Nikolayev’s adamantly deny.
The Nikolayev’s attorney, Joe Weinberger, expressed disbelief over the case as well.
“It’s absolutely amazing to me how a government can reach out and snatch a child after a doctor said there’s not an issue,” Weinberger said. “As we’ve seen, there is no emergency situation in this case...I can’t imagine having my baby ripped from my arms.”
“They were provided with medical evidence that said that the baby was fine to be taken home and despite this, they manufactured an excuse to take this baby away,” Weinberger added. “I think what it comes down to is that parents didn’t appreciate the opinion of the doctor in a hospital and wanted to seek a second opinion.”
Sammy is currently in the custody of CPS. The Nikolayev’s were permitted to visit him three times a day this past Saturday and Sunday. Although they were ecstatic to see their child, they still see no reason he is not at home with them.
“You're sitting there like in prison, they're watching you not to do anything wrong," Anna explained. "Holding your child in your hands being safe but you just feel like you're not yourself."
Although the verdict of today’s court hearing has not yet been released, the Nikolayev’s remain adamant that their baby belongs at home with them.
Update: Per a judge's ruling, Sammy will be moved to a Bay Area hospital for further evaluation.
"It's like a special day for us. It's like we're in a unit with our son again," said Anna. "We're just not going to let go anymore."
The judge also said that both parents must follow the hospital's advice from now on.