The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) has officially reversed course and now believes Justina Pelletier belongs in the custody of her parents. The state was awarded permanent custody of Pelletier in March after a year-long legal battle.
The DCF said that the Pelletier parents have met all of the conditions asked of them by the court, and that accordingly, they should be granted custody of their daughter. With both the DCF and the Pelletiers in agreement, Judge Joseph Johnston faces significant pressure to reverse his March ruling.
Justina Pelletier has been in the custody of the DCF since February 2013, following conflicting medical opinions from doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital and Tufts Medical Center. Tufts doctors thought Pelletier had mitochondrial disease and were treating her for it, but Boston Children’s doctors thought her illness was psychosomatic and that her parents were overmedicating her.
The Pelletiers refused to believe Justina’s illness was psychological in nature and tried to check her out of Boston Children’s Hospital when the doctors there disagreed. That’s when the DCF was called, and Justina has been in the state’s care ever since.
In May, Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz listed four conditions the Pelletier family would have to meet in order for the DCF to support reunification with Justina. Since the family has met those requirements, the DCF filed court papers “to support our shared goal of bringing Justina home.”
In the filing, general counsel Andrew Rome said the Pelletiers met their obligation to present “sufficient evidence of a material change in circumstances.”
Both the DCF and the Pelletier’s lawyer believe that no further court hearings are necessary since both sides are in agreement on what should be done.
Father Lou Pelletier is not getting ahead of himself with all the talk of reunification, though.
“We’ve come to learn the hard way that actions speak louder than words,” he said. “When she’s officially released, the healing can begin. Until then, we’re going to keep full pressure on the judge and the state of Massachusetts.”
Justina Pelletier recorded a video message earlier this week in which she begs Judge Johnston to reunite her with her family.
“All I really want to be is with my family and friends,” Justina says in the video. “Right now - you can do it. You are the one that's judging this.”
Here is her full message: