• Children taken from parents after anonymous tipster sends child protective services to home for no reason.
By Tarrah Baptista —
A young Christian couple in Bellingham, Washington recently found themselves in an emotional battle with the state shortly after Child Protective Services (CPS) abducted their infant babies following their home birth.
Although CPS labeled the couple “unmarried,” Cleave Rengo and his wife, Erica May Carey, had taken their wedding vows before God, opting out of attaining a marriage license with the state as many Christian couples have been doing in America.
After delivering their firstborn in the hospital, the Rengo couple decided they were going to have a home birth without medical assistance for their second child. It was a decision that was inspired by their Christian faith.
“I’ve done a lot of research about other women who have done it and they said the spiritual experience was so much more wholesome,” Carey told a reporter with KING-TV, Seattle. “We wanted to preserve that sanctity and sacredness in our birth.”
On November 8, the Rengo family, expecting only one baby, delivered twins. The delivery was successful with no complications, but a few days later, CPS came knocking on their door responding to an anonymous phone call.
On several occasions within a short time following that visit, CPS officials came unannounced, dictating to the Rengos how they should raise their children. For example, they pressured the couple to use pharmaceutical steroid cream for their 10-month-old baby’s eczema rashes, even though the couple already had a natural coconut treatment that was working well.
CPS also stated the newborns needed to be put on formula and brought to the hospital for checkups. The Rengos refused because they saw that only breast milk was needed and didn’t want their infants exposed to harmful illnesses in a hospital.
“They wanted the authority in my household,” Mrs. Rengo told local KING. “I told them, ‘I’m a Christian, and God gave me the authority in my household.’ ”
Weeks later, federal authorities with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CPS took the three breastfeeding babies out of the Rengos’s home and put them in separate foster homes. While the infants were in state custody, the parents were allowed to see them once a week.
During this time in foster care the infant twins became underweight, and their firstborn son fell ill with pneumonia.
For weeks, the couple was tormented. They did everything they could to bring attention to what HHS and CPS had done and refused to be silent.
Eventually, with help from the website Medical Kidnap, the Rengos’ story spread far enough to trigger a national outcry. The exposure of their story is believed to have been the reason that in December, Washington Superior Court Commissioner Thomas Verge ruled in favor of the Rengos and ordered the return of the children to their loving parents, but not without scolding the couple for things they were not responsible for, such as the illnesses that came upon the children while in state custody.
Verge also threatened that he would take the babies away again if the parents don’t follow what CPS dictates. “Their lives are dedicated to children,” he added. “They are not the enemy. They are heroes.”
The Rengo case is not an isolated incident. While true child-abuse cases are often ignored—especially in foster homes—there are many cases of children being taken from good homes on false allegations. A number of them have been put into state custody where reports of abuse, trauma and even death have been documented. For example, to this day, no one knows what happened to 78 children who went missing while in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Tarrah Beth Baptista is a freelance writer, and a contributor of the annual Freedompalooza festival. She’s currently scouting speakers and vendors for future Freedompalooza events. Feel free to contact her at [email protected].