After a False Abuse Allegation, Child Services Took This Mom’s 3 Children Away
Patti Krueger is a stay-at-home mom in Decatur, Illinois. Her husband is a house painter. The couple’s second son, Wyatt, was born in 2017 with severe breathing difficulties.
“He was blue,” says Krueger.
Wyatt spent nine days in neonatal intensive care. Over the next two years his breathing problems necessitated oxygen treatments, tubes in his ears, and four surgeries, according to Krueger.
Some of his treatments were at a nearby hospital in Peoria. Many hospitals today have a Child Abuse Pediatrician (CAP), a doctor on contract with child protective services. Their job is to be on the lookout for child abuse, including abuse other doctors may have missed. While the CAP at this hospital never met Krueger or worked directly with Wyatt, she reviewed his file and accused the mother of Munchausen syndrome by proxy—in other words, causing or faking a child’s illness to get attention.
This CAP’s report was all it took for Illinois’ Department of Child and Family Services to put into place a “safety plan” to remove the Kruegers’ kids. These plans do not require any kind of court order because ostensibly the family “agrees” to it, on pain of potentially having no say over what happens next to their kids. Thus, in March of 2019, when Wyatt was two-years-old and back in the hospital, Krueger’s husband and mother-in-law were in his room when a DCFS worker—and four armed police officers—arrived and ordered them out. They were not allowed back in. Wyatt was alone there for four days while DCFS arranged a foster placement, according to Krueger.
DCFS also came for Wyatt’s older brother, age 3. He had never been away from them before.
But that’s not all: Krueger was also pregnant with their third son at the time. DCFS took him away four hours after she gave birth, according to Krueger.
The family spent 467 days apart. It took an incredible amount of time and money to piece together the evidence that they were not guilty of abuse. In this, they were helped by the Family Justice Resource Center, an Illinois nonprofit founded by Michelle Weidner—a mom who had gone through a similar nightmare ten years earlier. The center helps “families
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