News Editor Comments
As you read this story put together by our staff after interviews with the family, consider these questions:
- Since the father was accused of a crime, why were the alleged victims (the children) removed from the home and incarcerated?
- Would these two children have not been in better care if they had been kept with the mother (who is a nurse and was not charged of any wrong-doing) and other family members?
- If the father was the perceived threat, should not the father have been the one forced to leave the home until his innocence or guilt was determined in a court of law?
- What benefit does the State receive from placing children into foster care rather than leaving them with family members?
- How can this practice of State-sponsored kidnapping, often based on the opinions of medical doctors, be lawful under our Constitution and allowed to continue?
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The Gibbs Family’s Tragic Story
Max and Justine Gibbs were blessed with their second child on February 15th, 2014. Their life was running smoothly. Enjoying their children, their marriage and their home in Lexington Park, Maryland, they were feeling very thankful.
Justine worked as a nurse at the local hospital and had been a nurse for 8 years. Max worked in construction and spent many hours volunteering for their church. Max also attended college for Pastoral Ministry. Justine and Max took turns watching the children while the other one was at work. They also had family support to help when they were working the same shift. This busy couple loved to give back, and like most young couples, they talked about their dreams for the future.
Life was good and they were enjoying every minute!
Their Good Life Turns to Grieving
When their daughter was 8 weeks old, Max noticed her leg was swollen. Max called his wife while she was at work to express his concern. Max’s mother who was living in their home watched their son while Max took his daughter to the hospital.
With Justine being a nurse, they trusted the medical profession and believed that they would provide assistance to their daughter.
CAT Scan Reveals Fractures
As Max waited for the CAT scan results and the x-rays, his heart ached for his baby girl. He stayed positive, thinking everything was going to be OK.
Justine’s nursing experience helped her focus on staying calm while they waited. Finally the results were in and Justine was told that the test results showed 3 ribs and one femur were fractured.
Quickly the two parents were separated and Max was given no information about his daughter.
Hospital Accuses Father of Child Abuse
The questioning of abuse began and the Gibbs described the questioning as an interrogation.
Immediately their son was taken out of the home, but Max’s mother who was living in the home was never questioned.
The hospital put a person in the room to monitor Max and Justine while they were with their daughter. That was short lived as the hospital told them they couldn’t afford to pay a person to sit in their child’s room 24 hours a day, so they would have to leave. The Gibbs complied and still had faith in what they were being told. Unfortunately things didn’t work out in their favor.
Justine and Max began to get more pressure with additional questioning. During the interrogation they said things to Max like, “We know you’re a pastor but things happen so just be honest.”
Father Arrested – Bail Set at 75,000
Maintaining his innocence, Max was arrested on 2 counts of child abuse and 2 counts of assault. Max had never been in trouble with the law, he was terrified and couldn’t believe what was happening.
As he sat in jail his mind was racing. He was not only shocked by the egregious accusations, but how could his bail be set at 75,000? The court mandated that the full amount be paid.
Max was isolated with his thoughts of his life spinning out of control. Justine was alone dealing with her children and missing her husband who she knew would never hurt them.
Eventually, after 2 bail hearings, the court granted Max to pay 10%. While the Gibbs family was glad his bail was lowered, it was still quite a bit of money for them to come up with.
Their community rallied together to help them raise funds, in disbelief that this could happen to this family. The Gibbs were overwhelmed with support from the community and their church.
Together 7,500 was raised and Max was released from jail. He hasn’t been allowed to see his little girl since then, but he does get visitation with his son.
Max missed his little girl’s first crawl. He missed her first word and her first birthday. His heart breaks for her more every day.
Heartbroken Parents Seek Answers
Justine stayed involved with updates on the children. They were placed in a foster home together. The foster family complained of the Gibbs’ daughter’s ribs and shoulders making “popping” noises.
Max and Justine took matters into their own hands and started researching. Justine went through testing and was diagnosed with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. This type of EDS is classified as loose joints and chronic joint pain, a connective tissue disorder.
Max was examined as well and he had low vitamin D levels. With this diagnosis, they believed they would be able to get their children back. Learn more about EDS here: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Were Child Abuse Allegations Really Undiagnosed Case of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
Originally their daughter was misdiagnosed by the children’s hospital as having spinal damage, but that diagnosis was later changed to fractures of 3 ribs and her femur.
The Gibbs were fed up with the medical care their daughter was getting, and their frustration was quickly rising because they were not able to get her the care they knew she needed.
The Gibbs had a letter from the specialist that diagnosed them. The specialist said “I believe I need to see your child.” With that letter and their diagnosis, they approached the court again.
Believing their daughter to also have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, the Gibbs requested that she see a geneticist. After months of petitioning, the courts finally granted the request, although there were stipulations:
- The doctor had to have all medical records.
- The doctor had to inform CPS of all procedures, and if they were ethical they could proceed.
- The doctor had to talk to the abuse specialist.
All of these requirements have been met except for one. Although the doctor has contacted the abuse specialist, not just by phone several times but additionally by email, the abuse specialist has not returned any communication.
The abuse specialist is now stating, according to the Gibbs family, that she does not have to abide by the court order and speak to the doctor. With all this confusion, their daughter still remains unseen by the geneticist, even though there is a court order in place.
Gibbs Facing Termination of Parental Rights
The Gibbs remain frustrated and now have another hearing coming up on June 24th at the circuit courthouse in Leonardtown, Maryland.
This will be a hearing to change the permanency plan and begin to end their rights as parents. This terrifies the Gibbs and with everything they have done they can’t believe this is happening. Max says, “It feels like we are in a movie and it’s not real.”
Max and Justine have both completed psychological evaluations, and they have completed parenting assessments and counseling.
Max and Justine are now at a loss at how this could happen and cannot believe the child advocacy lawyer has been so difficult towards them through this whole process. The child advocacy lawyer objects to their daughter seeing a geneticist simply because she does not believe them.
The judge will not clear Max of all charges until the geneticist sees their daughter. Lawyer fees continue to grow as they fight to get their children back.
Max and Justine are expecting another child on June 21st and DSS has told their lawyers that they are going to try and take their expected baby away when she is born.
Many Families are Suffering at the Hands of CPS
This is not the first story we have covered on this medical diagnosis. Here are two recent stories we have covered on Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome:
With more and more parents having to be their own advocates we will be seeing many more of these medical diagnoses. The parent’s full time job becomes researching, going to doctors and pleading for help.
The Gibbs Will Not Stop Fighting for their Children
They want their children to be together. They long to move on with their lives and get the proper medical treatment their daughter needs. Max stated, “How can we do all the things that have been asked of us and there is still talk of adopting out our children?”
The Gibbs believe as this battle continues they will stay strong for their children and not stop fighting. Max said it best, “Faith in God has kept us together, I love my wife and my kids.”
How You Can Help
You can support the Gibbs family by joining their Facebook page: Reunite the Gibbs Family
The following people can be contacted on behalf of the Gibbs family:
Maryland Governor: Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr., Governor
State House, 100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 974-3275; 1-800-811-8336 FREE
State Senate: Stephen M. Waugh, District 29
Miller Senate Office Building, 2 West Wing
11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 841-3673, (301) 858-3673
1-800-492-7122 FREE, ext.3673email: firstname.lastname@example.org
State Representative: Steny Hoyer, District 5
1705 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
St. Mary’s County DDS:
Director: Ella May Russell
Joseph D Carter Building
12110 Leonard Hall Drive
Leonardtown, Maryland 20650
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