A Washington state couple is fighting over custody rights of their three babies, all of whom Erica May Carey gave birth to at home and who have since been removed from their care by Child Protective Services.
Carey and her partner Cleave Rengo, who are Christians, say they conceived their first child almost immediately after meeting and deciding to spend their lives together. Not long after the home birth of their first son, Carey got pregnant again --- and again opted not to have an ultrasound or visit a doctor and instead give birth at home, reports KING 5 News.
“I’ve done a lot of research about other women who have done it and they said the spiritual experience was so much more wholesome,” Carey said of a homebirth. “It was just us. We wanted to preserve that sanctity and sacredness in our birth.”
Carey says that she didn’t realize she was having twins the second time around until she was actually in labor and Rengo told her he could see the outline of another baby in her womb.
While the couple may have been in baby bliss with their three children – all under the age of 1 and being breastfed – someone reported the births to police and the paramedics soon showed up at their door.
Concerned that the newborn twins’ health was being compromised, paramedics reportedly suggested the couple take their babies to a doctor for a check-up. Carey and Rengo refused.
The following day, CPS paid them a visit and discovered their 10-month-old son had eczema, which Carey and Rengo assured them they were treating with natural products like coconut oil and probiotics. CPS urged them to use steroid creams, but the couple said they were “harsh” treatments with “very negative side effects” and refused.
“They wanted the authority in my household,” Rengo said. “I told them, ‘I’m a Christian and God gave me the authority in my household.’”
But CPS ultimately took the couple’s three children and placed them in protective custody.
“Due to confidentiality, we cannot discuss details, except to say that a court determined a child’s safety required removal from the home,” DSHS said in a statement. CPS went on to insist that the removal had nothing to do with the couple giving birth to their children at home.
Rengo and Carey reportedly missed their one-year-old’s birthday last week and only see their children once a week. They filed a petition on Tuesday in which they called the seizure “unlawful, unconscionable, and inexcusable.” The couple claims CPS had no evidence of “clear and present danger” and that the administration is imposing its standards of “proper parenting.”