Contributed to TLB by: Health Impact News and Medical Kidnap
September 4, 2013, a San Bernardino County social worker instructed the mother of two-year-old Melina to “pack up her daughter’s stuff…she belongs to the county now.”
Heavenly Ramos of Upland California, the mother of Melina, had her daughter removed from her home based on allegations that she had 5 bone fractures, all with different levels of healing, throughout her body.
Christopher McCown, who had been with Heavenly and little Melina since she was two months old, raced home after a 2 hour interrogation by CPS, but he was moments too late. In tears, Heavenly recalls him saying,
“I didn’t even get to say good bye…they took her and I couldn’t even tell her how much I love her.”
Eleven months after that day, CPS removed their other child, newborn son Jacob, hours after his birth. The couple now has no children left at home.
Young Mother Came out of the Foster Care System
Heavenly Ramos says she was neglected and abused during her childhood. She was put into foster care at 16 years old. When Heavenly was 18 years old, while living in an Independent Living Program (ILP), she was raped, becoming pregnant with her daughter, Melina.
A foster youth warned Heavenly,
“Because we are foster kids, we belong to them, and that baby in your belly belongs to them too, if they don’t have room to put the baby with us, they will put it in another home.”
She said it never crossed her mind to terminate the pregnancy. She wanted to love and care for the child that grew in her belly, which led her to becoming emancipated.
Christopher Takes on Role of Father – Stabilizes Family
Melina was three months old when Heavenly and Christopher met. Heavenly had vowed to protect her daughter, to not expose her to dangerous situations or random men, as she had been.
She dated Christopher first for one year, and on October 29, 2012, she decided to introduce the two of them. Melina loved Christopher, and according to Heavenly Ramos:
“the two of them were the best of friends and had a great relationship,” and that “the next year of Melina’s life was the best year ever.”
The three moved into Christopher’s mother’s home, Michelle McCown, who is a registered nurse.
Melina Prone to Bruising
Heavenly explained that her daughter has “always been clumsy, always banging into things, and would bruise very easily.”
On June 24, 2013, they had gone swimming and played at a park. She recalled how “Melina laughed as she was thrown up in the air and into the water.”
However, when she went to change her daughter, taking off her top, Melina’s laughter turned into screams of pain.
The very next day Heavenly took Melina to her pediatrician:
“I felt like something wasn’t right, maybe she had hurt her shoulder in the pool.”
The Pediatrician, Dr. Antoune G. Saad, of Upland, California, agreed and ordered Melina to be taken to Grove Diagnostic in Rancho Cucamonga.
The images taken on June 25, 2013 showed “no sign of fracture.” They had suggested she “ice it, give her Motrin, and come back tomorrow so we can check if the swellings gone down.”
When they returned the next day, Grove Diagnostics noted the swelling had “reduced” and made a referral for Melina to be seen by Orthopedic Dr. Sang Le, M.D. His office, Arrowhead Orthopedics, offered an appointment on September 5, 2013.
Heavenly recalled that on August 22, 2013, they had visited the home of a friend and that one of their dogs, when it had been fetching a ball, had knocked Melina to the ground. Heavenly recalled, “I was standing next to Melina but not close enough.” Melina had fallen to the ground, “face forward, directly on her elbows. We immediately picked her up to comfort her; she seemed cranky and fussy, but after a while she was fine.”
August 23, 2013, Heavenly recalled, “usually as soon as I would open Melina’s door, she would pop right up out of bed.” That morning she was unable to “pop up.” Heavenly sat next to her daughter and noticed her elbow was swollen. When she touched it, Melina cried.
“I knew something wasn’t right.”
Trip to Hospital for Fractured Elbow
They took Melina to Riverside Community Hospital. After they waited for hours to be seen, they were brought back to have images taken of Melina’s elbow. Riverside’s x-rays confirmed that Melina’s elbow had been fractured. They wrapped Melina’s arm and placed it in a sling.
Surprised, Christopher and Heavenly were then informed that Melina also had “older injuries in her shoulder…and there is callous on her bone.”
Heavenly clarified that Riverside had
“treated us like concerned parents with my child, and we had no problems with them at all.”
They discharged Melina with instructions that “she is to be seen by an Orthopedic M.D. as soon as possible.”
Eagerly, Heavenly waited for Monday morning and contacted the office of Dr. Sang Fe. After she described what had occurred, the office gave her a sooner appointment and moved the original appointment from September 5, 2013 to August 28, 2013.
On August 28, 2013, they took Melina to her appointment with Dr. Sang Le, where he had ordered them “to go directly to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.” According to this website, Dr. Le is affiliated with Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.
They stayed at Arrowhead Medical Center with Melina for four days and were discharged on August 31, 2013 with instructions to “follow up with the orthopedic doctor and pediatrician.”
Accusations of Alleged Abuse
Heavenly explained that they were never able to take Melina back to Dr. Sang Le for her follow up appointment. Unknown to her, the orthopedic doctor had written something in his report after the first appointment with Melina:
“This child is being abused.”
On September 4, 2013 CPS investigators began their interrogation. At 5:30 pm, Heavenly received a call from CPS detectives who had directed her to
“immediately take Melina to Loma Linda University Medical Center, she has 7 fractures.”
Shocked, confused, and concerned for her daughter, Heavenly explains what she was thinking at the time:
“I am alone, I have no one to drive us, and I have to wait until Christopher gets back. But he is also being interrogated at another location.”
CPS special investigators questioned Christopher:
“Tell us what you have done to this girl. We know what you did, but we want to hear it from you. You’re a child abuser and you’re going to prison. You’re going to be behind bars forever.”
After over two hours, Christopher finally asked why he was being detained because he hadn’t done anything to Melina. He explained they were “wasting time,” that he “never hurt her,” and that to him,
“Melina is like my daughter.”
He left the building at 6:40 pm and called Heavenly. She told him to “come home quickly” and explained that the investigator had directed her to “immediately take Melina to Loma Linda Medical Center.”
2 Year Old Melina Removed Taken Away from Her Family
Hardly twenty minutes after Christopher had been released from the investigation, a county social worker and a San Bernardino sheriff arrived to the home to remove two year old Melina. They had apparently known that Heavenly, barely 20 years old, would be home alone with Melina before they arrived. Heavenly couldn’t understand what was happening:
“Why are you taking my child?”
Christopher’s mother, Michelle, arrived home shocked, and she pleaded,
“You’re taking her? Wait, you never said you were removing her, we just spoke. Look at Melina’s eyes! There is something wrong with her. Look at her eyes, the whites of her eyes, they are grey (also known as ‘blue sclera’).”
The social worker had assured them:
“Don’t worry, Melina will stay with you, Michelle, during the investigation, as long as Heavenly and Christopher move out.”
Heavenly sorrowfully relates,
I will never forget how I was forced to strap my daughter in the social workers car. She was screaming and crying, “Mommy, come, please, mommy, come, please,” she begged me. I lied to my daughter that day, I told her, “Baby, I love you. You are going to the hospital. They will fix your ‘boo-boos’ all better, then you will come home with Mommy real soon.”
Heavenly had stood helplessly in the middle of the cul-de-sac:
“I had to put my daughter in the car and watch them drive away.”
Mere moments after Melina had been taken, Christopher arrived home from his interrogation. He had been deprived of the opportunity to say goodbye to the little girl who called him “daddy.”
“Family” Life After Social Services Intervenes
For 25 months, Christopher and Melina have been separated by force, since Christopher is not Melina’s biological father nor is he Heavenly’s husband.
Melina was taken from her home allegedly on a presumption with no disclosure of abuse or maltreatment. She had shown no sign of fear, and her mother relates how she was:
“happy, high spirited, and energetic. She sang and danced.”
Christopher McCowen’s mother Michelle is a nurse, and a mandated reporter. If there had been actual abuse, she would have been mandated by law to report it.
Nevertheless, in a moment, social workers came in based solely on a doctor’s report and completely altered this family’s life.
Although Heavenly had been a stay at home mom prior to Melina being taken out of the home, in order for her to afford the exorbitant county fees to foster her stolen child, legal fees and other expenses, she began working two jobs the very next month.
But she was soon forced to take leave. Heavenly explains:
“I thought it was the stress. I began fainting and passing out at work. The manager told me to take care of whatever was wrong before I could come back to work.”
CPS Targets Second Child After He is Born
Heavenly went to the doctor and found out she was 16 weeks pregnant.
I was worried they’d take the baby. I told the social worker, (Louise Curran) “I am pregnant, and I just want you to be honest with me. Will I go home with this child or not? Because I can’t handle another child being taken away from me.”
Louise Curran allegedly assured her,
“This child has nothing to do with your case; Melina is completely different from this baby” (emphasis added).
Heavenly was arrested when she was eight months pregnant. Criminal charges were filed against her and Christopher due to the abuse allegations. She is currently out on bail, with a return criminal court date of October 20, 2015.
Despite the alleged reassurance from CPS, 19 hours after their son Jacob McCowen was born, CPS came into the hospital room and removed Jacob from Heavenly’s arms while she was breast-feeding him.
Newborn Son Does not Recognize His Own Mother
Baby Jacob is currently with his paternal grandmother, which the family believes is preferable to foster care.
Heavenly explained forlornly:
My son doesn’t know who I am. He doesn’t call me Momma. I get to see him only 1 hour a week and he looks at me like I am a just someone coming to visit him. He doesn’t cry when I have to leave. They have deprived me and my son of bonding. He doesn’t even know who his Mommy is.
Baby Jacob will turn 1 year old this month, and in total, he has spent only 11 hours of his life with his older sister. Heavenly has had to sacrifice 1 hour from her scheduled weekly visits in order for the sibling visits to take place. She says that is all that CPS would offer.
Genetic Testing Shows Heavenly Likely has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
In June 2015, Heavenly, currently 22 years old, had been diagnosed by her Rheumatologist with Fibromyalgia and a Vitamin D deficiency. While undergoing this extensive testing, Heavenly learned that she has Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO). According to the Mayo Clinic, this is a hole in the heart that didn’t close the way it should after birth.
Heavenly most likely also has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. There are numerous symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. According to the government NIH website, it is defined as a group of disorders that affect connective tissues, which are tissues that support the skin, bones, blood vessels, and other organs. Defects in connective tissues cause the signs and symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which vary from mildly loose joints to life-threatening complications.
As well, Heavenly has myopia, subluxation, and hypermobility, bruises easily, poor balance and lacks coordination, has severe migraines, often has a lack of clarity or focus, and TMJ.
Heavenly states that the San Bernardino children’s court did not accept the confirmed medical diagnosis she had received August 10, 2015, from UCLA Director, Pathology Clinical Services, Chief of Dermatopathology, Scott W. Binder, M.D., an internationally known dermatopathologist.
The children’s court ordered her to obtain an additional diagnosis from a geneticist, which can take months. However, with an October 14, 2015, court date, and the court’s refusal to postpone, the outcome seems bleak. The parents only wish to be allowed time and the right to reunite with their children, so that Melina and Jacob might finally be returned home.
Although Heavenly recently regained employment, she explained how difficult it was due to the felony criminal charges of child abuse filed against her and Christopher McCown.
Under professionally monitored supervision, Heavenly is permitted to see her daughter merely once a week, for 2 hours, and her son for 1 hour. For the past 25 months they have been scrutinized, criminalized, and recently forced to separate while San Bernardino children’s court continues their investigation. They have done and continue to do everything that is demanded of them by San Bernardino DCFS (CPS).
How You Can Help
Calls may be made on the family’s behalf to Governor Jerry Brown at (916) 445-2841, and he may be contacted here.
Assemblyman Chris Holden represents their district. His website boasts a recent bill sponsored by Holden (AB 15) which has just been signed into law. The law is designed “to ensure justice for victims of human rights abuses.” What greater human rights abuse is there than for children to be taken away from innocent parents? Holder may be reached at (916) 319-2041, and contacted here.
Carol Liu is the Senator representing Heavenly’s district. She may be reached at (916) 651-4025, or contacted here.