Contributed to TLB by: Health Impact News and Medical Kidnap
When Allison and Jesus Valenzuela of Olympia, Washington took their 5 month old son to the emergency room with a seizure, they had no idea that their lives were about to be turned upside down. They were accused of shaken baby syndrome, and their son was seized from them by Child Protective Services on April 2, 2013.
To this day, they don’t know what was wrong with Alessandro that day, or what is causing symptoms that he shows even now. There were early signs of problems that doctors dismissed. After they were accused of child abuse, the Valenzuelas found, like many other parents, that doctors stopped looking for the medical basis for their child’s symptoms. The parents are still looking for answers.
After more than 2 years, Alessandro was returned to his parents who were cleared of all charges of child abuse. CPS is now completely out of their lives as of last month.
Allison describes what they went through as “a living hell.” She sent her heart-breaking story to Health Impact News, and we are publishing it in its entirety. She wants their voices to be heard.
A Common Medical Kidnapping Theme
Their story is very much like the stories that we receive on almost a daily basis here at Health Impact News. There are many common factors that the Valenzuelas’ story has with that of countless other families all across the United States and other countries:
- They are parents who love their child very much.
- There was a medical incident, in their case – a seizure, which led them to take their child to the hospital.
- They were blindsided by accusations that they abused their child.
- Child Protective Services seized custody, leaving a devastated family in their wake.
- The child still has medical issues, but after an accusation of abuse, doctors stopped looking for the actual medical cause.
Here is their story, beautifully written by Allison Valenzuela, with minor edits for grammar, and occasional editorial commentary:
I’m sure there are thousands of parents that struggle with being wrongfully accused of child abuse, struggling day to day just to have their silent voices heard. Sadly, we are one of those families.
Our son was born at 41 weeks. We went in for a regular fetal heart rate check when the nurses kept looking at the monitor and seemed a little nervous. I was about to ask if everything is ok, when they said that I would be admitted to the hospital and our son was going to be born soon. Being scared for our son’s life, we agreed. I was in labor for 22 hours when finally the doctor came in and told us that, due to our son’s heart beating irregularly, they needed to perform an emergency C-section.
Being scared, tired, and broken-hearted because I wanted a normal pregnancy, I broke down and cried and hesitantly agreed. I knew something was wrong when the doctors struggled for a while (not really sure how long due to being sedated) to get our son out of my abdomen area. I literally felt like they were ripping out my insides. It was the most horrible feeling ever, not knowing what was going on, laying there scared. I started to cry, by then they used a vacuum [extractor] to pull our son out due to being stuck in my pelvic bones.
Note: Vacuum extraction has known risk factors to both mother and baby. According to the Mayo clinic, vacuum extraction can cause “scalp wounds” on the baby, as well as “skull fracture” and “bleeding within the skull.”
Finally, our beautiful boy was born. We were so happy and everything that I had been currently going through was forgotten. I looked right into his eyes as he looked at me, and I said, “Hi, buddy. You’re so handsome. Welcome to this exciting world.”
After he was born, they did tests on him to make sure he was good to go home. Finally, after three long days in the hospital, we headed home.
Early Signs of Problems
When we arrived home, I couldn’t help but have this feeling that something just wasn’t right with our son’s head. He seemed to have veins that would show easily on his forehead, and the back of his head seemed flat. When we took him to his check up after he was born, I mentioned to his primary care doctor at the time about his flat head. She did some tests, saying that he has low muscle tone and would refer us to see a physical therapist. Sadly, we didn’t get that far. As far as the flat head went, the doctor said it would round out over time; not thinking much of it, we went home.
In March of 2012, we took a family vacation to California to see my husband’s family. Everything went great. They loved seeing our son and spending time with him. It was a wonderful experience that we will never forget.
After 8 Vaccinations in one Doctor Visit, Something Was Wrong
Little did we know when we came back to Washington State that our nightmare was just around the corner. We arrived home from our trip, and everything seemed normal up until a couple days later, when we noticed our son was not acting like his normal, easy-going self.
Note: Vaccination records show that Alessandro received the 8 vaccinations in one doctor visit on March 28th when they returned to Washington. His situation became so severe, that the parents had to take him into the emergency room a few days later.
He usually loved being held, and when I would go to pick him up, he didn’t want any part of me or my husband. He usually loved to eat, but when we would try to feed him, he turned away and didn’t eat anything.
We decided to take him for a walk in his stroller, but we had to quickly return home because it seemed that every little bump was bothering him. By then we were both very concerned and decided to take him to see his doctor the next day. Unfortunately, we never made it there.
Later that night when my husband was feeding our son, he still seemed very irritable, but he did eat, which we thought was great. When my husband went to go burp our son, he noticed that he was very lethargic, and started to cry out a long horrible moan/cry. He would breathe in and cry normal. Then when he exhaled, he would start to moan. By then we noticed his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he would stiffen up, then become very weak, like holding putty in your hands.
To the Emergency Room
By then we were out the door and going to the closest hospital here in Olympia, [Washington], which was Capital Medical Center, which was our first huge mistake.
As soon as we arrived, I ran to the emergency room holding our son when I was greeted by the rudest person I have met. I told her our son couldn’t breathe and was having a seizure. I of course was crying uncontrollably, while trying to explain to her what was going on. She just looked at me with a sort or emotionless expression and said, “Ma’am, you need to stop crying and tell us what’s wrong with your son.” I couldn’t believe what I had just heard, so I calmed down enough to explain to her what was going on, and they still made us wait in the lobby while our son was fighting for his life.
Finally, a nurse came out to take our son in the back. From there everything that happened seemed like a blur, or a bad dream that we couldn’t wake up from. They had him hooked up to several machines while he was still having a seizure and crying. He then started to projectile vomit, and the nurses were rushing to put him on his side so that he didn’t choke.
Accused of Shaken Baby Syndrome
When the seizures finally stopped and they were able to stabilize our son, they told us that he needed to be transferred to a children’s hospital in Tacoma Mary Bridge. It was surprising that they told us anything, from the dirty looks they were giving us and talking to one another like they were telling each other secrets.
They transported our son in an ambulance and we quickly followed in our car headed to Mary Bridge in Tacoma. Little did we know that CPS (Child Protection Services) was waiting for us there.
When we arrived at the hospital, they quickly hooked our son up to monitors and machines to help him breathe. Seeing breathing tubes being placed on your 5 month old child is a sight that I wish on no one. It was the most heart wrenching thing I have seen in all my life. They had our son in the room where they were watching him, and then they told us to wait outside until they could find a room for our son, so we waited.
After what seemed like forever, they finally told us they had a room for our son and for us to follow him there, so we did. We spent the night, both of us passed out on the couch, waiting to hear of what could have caused our son to have a seizure as horrible as the one he just had.
Parents Interrogated by Police, Never Arrested
We were then greeted by three Olympia Police department detectives, two males and one female. Confused, we didn’t know what was going on until they said they needed to ask us some questions and that was it.
They started with my husband first. The two male detectives taking my husband to a room away from where we were, and leaving me with the female detective. It was about an hour later until I finally realized that it was my turn. They wouldn’t let my husband in the room or around our son. They proceeded to escort me to the same room where they had interrogated my husband. When they proceeded to ask me how our son acquired those injuries and had the seizure, I simply told them the truth, “I don’t know.”
After about an hour of questions and pulling the good cop bad cop routine, I told them the only way that our son could have those injuries was when I fell with my son in my arms when I was trying to feed him when he was first born. I explained in detail that, when he was around 3 months old, I was very tired and had to feed our son, I stupidly placed my left foot on his bassinet which had wheels. I lost my balance and fell with Alessandro in my arms. After I fell, I immediately checked to see if he was OK and informed my husband who was at work on a 24 hour shift, letting him know that I had just fallen with Alex in my arms. I had also texted my sister of the event and told her about the accident and how nervous I was, and stupid for not paying attention.
Child Protective Services Seizes Baby
Well, the detectives didn’t believe my story. They quickly shrugged it off and stated, “Well, we know that you didn’t hit your child, but you know who did, and you’re lying. You’re a liar!” That’s when I got angry and said, “Look, I know my husband wouldn’t hit our son, and I know I didn’t do anything. We love our son.” They quickly gave each other smug looks and proceeded to tell me, “Your son is now in the care of CPS and you need to leave the hospital immediately.”
Being alone, not knowing where my husband was, and confused and scared about the situation that had unfolded in front of my eyes, I quickly went downstairs in search of my husband. It literally felt like hours before I had realized that he was looking for me, too, and finally we met up where the car was and proceeded to go home. Being exhausted and distraught about everything that had happened, we both didn’t speak much on the drive back.
Jumping Through the Hoops
That’s when all the countless court appearances happened and supervised visits, as well as being dragged through the mud, going to classes that were meant for druggies and abusers, as well as having a psychological evaluation done and an anger management evaluation done as well. It was the most degrading thing we have ever had to do.
Conflicting Story about Shaken Baby Syndrome by Doctor
Our poor son had to endure countless doctor appointments where the doctors stayed neutral about his injuries. They said that the injuries he sustained didn’t match up to shaken baby syndrome, and they don’t know what happened for him to have the subdural hematomas.
It wasn’t until when we met the second foster parent that she actually tried to advocate for us and heard exactly what the doctor had said, about his injuries not matching those of SBS. When confronted by the foster parent, the doctor quickly changed his mind and said, “I never said that, and his injuries were due to SBS.” After hearing that, the foster parent was furious and said to us, “I know what I heard. I’m not an idiot.” My husband and I knew that CPS probably got involved and talked to the doctor.
To make matters worse, a couple of months later, they then switched our son to another foster parent.
Actually, there are a number of doctors and scientists who question the entire concept of “shaken baby syndrome.” Child abuse protocols often still focus on the “triad” of symptoms in diagnosing SBS – subdural hematomas, retinal hemorrhaging, and brain swelling, even in the absence of other symptoms that would be expected if a child were shaken so hard as to cause brain injury. Notably, neck injury would be expected; however, neither Alessandro, nor countless other babies whose parents or caregivers were accused of harming them, had any sign of neck injury or bruising.
Dr. Mohammed Ali Al-Bayati wrote a paper entitled Shaken Baby or Medical Malpractice? in which he wrote of cases with which he had been involved:
My findings clearly show that the shaken baby ‘syndrome’ (SBS) theory is not supported by science. The SBS theory has been applied since the early 1970’s in cases of babies and toddlers who suffer from subdural and/or retinal bleeding when they do not exhibit signs of external injuries. My investigation of the four alleged SBS cases noted above revealed that the treating physicians and medical examiners were negligent, as they did not carry out proper medical investigations in order to find the factual causes of the bleeding in tissues.
Mainstream Media Finally Exposing Shaken Baby Syndrome as False Diagnosis – How Many Innocent Parents Have Suffered?
Allison continues to describe their story of how the accusation of SBS dearly cost her family:
Dedicated Soldier Loses His Career
By that time in this case, my husband had no choice but to leave the Army. With all of the countless appointments they made him go to and the supervised visits, he had no choice but to get out. My husband was an outstanding soldier and loves the military. Because of this case, the 8 years and 3 months he served was gone before his eyes.
Are Military Families Targets for CPS?
When this case first happened they tried to blame my husband right away for everything, because of him being a soldier. They told us that people in the military tend to have short tempers and come home stressed from work, then take it out on their families.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth. My husband is a very caring and loving man who would do anything for his family, and he would never do anything to cause harm against me or our son.
Here in Washington State, it seems they love to pick on the military. They say supposedly that they love the military, but going through what we went through and seeing countless times of other men in uniform coming out of the CPS office, they love to prey on military families.
Numerous Surgeries, But Few Answers
Our son in his three years of living has had more surgeries and doctor appointments than anyone I know. When he had the seizures back when this living hell started, they had to place a shunt so the bleeding would stop and the pressure would be off of his brain. He also had eye surgery, because his right eye would look inward. He has also seen countless “specialists” that supposedly know what they are doing, but when it comes to our son, they have no idea what’s wrong with him or why he was born with so many problems.
When he was first born his head was very flat, and when I spoke to the doctor about it, they said it would round out. When CPS got involved, we never had a chance to ask the doctor about his head being flat. By the time CPS wanted to make him wear a helmet, it was too late, and his skull had already began to fuse together, making the helmet useless and our son being stuck with a flat head for the rest of his life.
To this day, the doctors still don’t know what caused the subdural hematomas that made him have a seizure. CPS is still claiming SBS, but thankfully the charges from the Olympia police department were dropped against my husband and me.
Relatives Lied to About Alessandro’s Condition, Creating Rifts in Family
The part that hurts the worst was when the detective went and talked to our families and told them lies about the condition of our son, telling my husband’s family that lives in California that he had a broken wrist, broken ribs, and was bruised all over.
Note: Medical reports showed that Alessandro never had any fractures. Doctors performed full body x-rays, in accordance with American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, but the results showed no fractures.
They proceeded to tell the same story to my family. Luckily, my dad didn’t believe their lies, but my sister did, ripping apart both of our families for two plus years. I’m still not speaking to my sister because of this situation, and we are just now communicating with my husband’s family again.
CPS Breaks Families Financially
To make matters worse, when my husband had to get out of the military, it made our financial situation horrible. Before this case, we had two cars. We were paying off all of our bills and doing great; when this case hit, we had to get rid of both cars, and we are in debt at least $60,000 because they wanted to charge us child support for taking our son away, which was $600.00 a month. I have never in my life heard of something so crazy as that.
Son Returned, But Scars Remain
We had to give up a lot in order to get our son back. Thankfully June 12th 2015 he was placed in our care full time. Even though the judge made it clear that she believes one of us inflicted harm on our son and made us feel like crap, she still granted us custody. I have been called a lot of things in my life, but for someone to sit there not knowing the whole story as to what happened to our son and call both my husband and me child abusers, it hurts and it pisses you off, but you can’t say anything.
Breaking the Silence – “Don’t Give Up”
It took a while for us to actually get someone to listen to our story. For two plus years we have suffered in silence, and no one would listen when we tried to get our voice heard. Then, finally someone listened, and now I get to share my experience with others, letting them know that no matter how difficult it is dealing with CPS and all the bullshit classes and psychological evaluations they put you through, having unconditional love for your child and not letting these monsters tear you down, there is always hope, and being strong in a situation where you literally have no one will make you a better person and a better parent. Finally, our silent voices are heard, breaking our silent suffering.
To other parents out there, don’t give up on your children. Keep fighting, and fight hard. Don’t let them break you. We have fought until the very end and lost everything, but we kept fighting for our son and didn’t give in to them. Our son is now home with us, and even though we literally had to give up our lives in order to get him home, it was worth every struggle.
Still Don’t Know What Is Wrong
To this day, the doctors don’t know what caused our son to have the seizure, although he did receive shots right before that day when he got sick. We are still researching to see if there is anything that could have led up to Alessandro getting sick. Our questions are still unanswered.
The Valenzuelas’ case was closed by CPS in February. According to a court report, allegations against the parents of physical abuse were “determined to be unfounded.” However, the CPS case against the Valenzuelas centered on the accusation that they “failed to protect” Alessandro from his injuries.
The parents question how it is that they were expected to protect against injuries that were caused by real medical conditions? The doctors were the ones that they counted on to figure out what was going on with their child.
However, to date, the Valenzuelas do not know what caused their son’s seizures, or what continues to cause his poor muscle tone. Alessandro still has a flat head as well. They are looking for answers.
They were given a recommendation to take Alessandro to another doctor within the same hospital that medically kidnapped their son more than 2 years ago. Not surprisingly, they are reluctant to go that route. They are hoping to find another doctor who can help them to finally learn what is wrong with Alessandro.
The Valenzuelas are one family among thousands who have been falsely accused of abusing their child by shaking him.
Fortunately, they got him back. But the emotional heartache of having their son ripped away from them and spending more than 2 years with someone else will never go away.
Like most parents we talk with, Allison broke into tears as she described the trauma of those 2 years. Those are years they will never get back. They were broken financially, and Jesus’ career was destroyed. Family relationships remain shaky, all over accusations about what many call the “junk science” of shaken baby syndrome.
They are not alone.
These are just some of the similar stories we have covered:
Dr. Phil Exposes Medical Kidnapping and Shaken Baby Syndrome False Diagnosis with North Carolina Family
South Carolina Family has Children Medically Kidnapped Based on Wrong Diagnosis from Child Abuse Specialist
Will Massachusetts Doctor Send Another Innocent Parent to Prison Over Shaken Baby Syndrome Accusation?
Maryland Father Accused of Abuse over Broken Bones – Both Children Removed from Home of Loving Parents
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