Teen forced into foster care when mom sought 2nd medical opinion

“It almost feels like a David and Goliath scenario because the state and the hospital pretty much have unlimited resources and she doesn’t.”

Posted on July 23, 2014 by Site Staff in News

Isaiah and Michelle Rider. (Source: Team Isaiah Rider | Facebook)

CHICAGO, IL — When a woman attempted to transfer her chronically-ill son from one hospital to another, she was accused of “medical child abuse” and her 16-year-old son was stripped from her custody and placed into the hands of the state.

* * * * *
A Lifelong Ordeal

The plight of the Rider family stemmed from dealing with a lifelong illness suffered by Isaiah Rider, 16. Isaiah had been born with a rare genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis, a “horrible” condition in which tumors develop on nerves throughout the body.

Isaiah has spent much of his life under the care of doctors. For ten years he sought treatment at the same Missouri hospital to deal with his various issues. Between 2003 and 2012, he had a total of seven surgeries on his leg; the final one was a partial amputation below his left knee.

Despite all the physical obstacles, Isaiah lived the life of a normal teenager, attending school as a sophomore; working as a busboy at a restaurant; anxious to get a driver’s license.

Things took an unfortunate turn in January of 2014, when Isaiah had to be hospitalized for complications with his amputated leg. He was experiencing hours-long convulsions, and pain so severe that he thought he was going to die. His mom, 34-year-old Michelle Rider, drove him around the country to see various specialists. Due to his unusual combination of ailments, finding satisfactory treatment was not easy.
Seeking the Best Care

In a span of four months, they had visited doctors in Missouri, Texas, and Massachusetts. The family’s quest for medical relief eventually brought them to Chicago. In late March of 2014, Isaiah was checked into Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital (“Lurie”).

Isaiah was put through surgery at Lurie, but his pain and symptoms only worsened. After weeks of hospitalization, there was still no diagnosis for Isaiah’s pain and convulsions. Doctors clashed with Ms. Rider, who had grown dissatisfied and did not believe that the staff had the requisite experience to fix her son’s rare issue. She urged for a hospital transfer.

Ms. Rider chronicled some of the ordeal to her family and friends on Facebook. On April 10th, she explained that her decision to remove her son from Lurie was “not because the care is bad, because it’s not,” she wrote. “The nurses and doctors are very invested and committed to caring for [Isaiah], but they don’t know what it is and it’s difficult to treat something when you don’t know. [Isaiah] deserves an opportunity to have another set of eyes and hands.”
“Medical Child Abuse”

The transfer request was denied. Having no diagnosis to offer after a lengthy hospitalization, Lurie staff claimed that Isaiah’s pain was being caused by Ms. Rider herself; an anxiety-caused ailment.

On April 15th, Lurie Hospital contacted the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) via its child abuse hotline. Hospital officials claimed that Ms. Rider’s advocacy was supposedly “interfering” with Isaiah’s treatment and well-being and wanted her removed from the picture.

“They called it medical child abuse,” Ms. Rider told the Chicago Tribune. But she didn’t know what that meant. “They told me to look it up. They said ‘we are taking custody of your son for 48 hours,’ and that they would be making medical decisions going forward.”

Her parental rights had been stripped through a phone call. Isaiah, although 16 years old, was not legally allowed to make his own medical decisions. Now a ward of the state, he was isolated from his mother and left to be medicated at the behest of doctors and social workers.

Family members and numerous family acquaintances spoke in outrage about the separation. By all accounts, Ms. Rider was an attentive and loving mother who cared about getting her son well.

“Every time [Isaiah] had to go to the hospital, [Michelle] would stay by his side until he could leave the hospital,” said Isaiah’s grandfather, Gary Rider. “I guess from my point of view that’s why I’m outraged at the allegations. I don’t understand them.”

Ms. Rider denies the hospital’s claim that she was medically abusing her child. It wasn’t even possible, the family said.

“He had one of those tremors at Lurie’s in surgery under general anesthetic,” Isaiah’s grandmother, Judy Rider, told KCTV, questioning how an anxiety-related or fabricated illness could cause a seizure in such a state.

Lurie Hospital also alleged that the mom, who was an experienced hospice nurse, pushed to have Isaiah unnecessarily put on more drugs. But she says truth is the exact opposite.

“The documents say otherwise,” Ms. Rider said. “The hospital tried to start him on methadone, a very strong narcotic, twice, and I said no, because narcotics do not help him. It’s [a] nerve [issue]. Why would I say, ‘OK, sure, just throw all these meds at my son?’”
Torn Apart By the State

The 48-hour emergency custody was extended for weeks, and Ms. Rider was kept completely away from Isaiah and denied visitation privileges. It would be another 24 days before the teen and his mom would see each other face-to-face again.

“They told me I wasn’t able to see my mother and I was shocked. I was shocked by it,” Isaiah Rider later explained in a three-minute-long video he posted on Facebook. “I was like: I’m not allowed to see my mom anymore? She didn’t even do anything wrong.”

Lurie staff pushed the idea that Ms. Rider was showing signs of a mental disorder: Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy. This was used to further the notion that the Missouri mom was bothering doctors with fabricated medical concerns.

The claims of abuse were never turned into criminal charges, and Ms. Rider was never put before a jury to defend her case. By all legal definitions she was innocent, and never proven guilty of any abuse or wrongdoing. Yet the state wielded its power to instantly and indefinitely break apart the family using rumors and allegations.

Meanwhile, bureaucrats went as far as to cut off Isaiah’s phone privileges while being held against his will in state custody.

“My son kept calling us, and we could tell he was in pain and we didn’t know what to do,” explained Ms. Rider. Then the calls stopped. “The Department of Children and Family Services said Isaiah was instructed not to call his family when he was in pain and we asked why. All of a sudden my son is being held hostage in the hospital,” she said. “They just let him suffer.”
“They ruined my life.”

Still in state custody, Isaiah was finally discharged from the hospital on May 6th and placed in a children’s facility. But the transfer would be short-lived. According to his mother, the facility was medically inappropriate for Isaiah so he was sent back to Lurie Hospital, where he sat in an Emergency Room for 6 hours without being admitted.

Ultimately, social workers placed him into foster care in Chicago — away from his family, away from his friends and girlfriend, and hundreds of miles from his Missouri home.

“I feel they took me away from my mom and now I’m living here in foster care with some person I barely know,” Isaiah remarked in a video message. “What Lurie Children’s Hospital has done to me is ruined my life, and this is something I never will forget.”

The Rider family was left depending on a public defender to represent them in front of a judge, after being financially wiped out after extensive hospital bills.

“It almost feels like a David and Goliath scenario because the state and the hospital pretty much have unlimited resources and she doesn’t,” said Isaiah’s grandmother, Judy.

In July, a judge refused to reunite the Rider family and gave DCFS the blessing to continue holding Isaiah in custody. According to the Chicago Tribune, Isaiah will spend the rest of the summer trapped in foster care,and it will be at least 90 days before the State of Illinois considers transferring the teen to another child welfare agency in his home state of Missouri. Even then, there is no guarantee of when (or if) he will be returned to his family.

“He has been here since March and he wants to come home, and we want him to come home,” said his mom to KCTV. “He’s been through so much in his young life. He doesn’t deserve this. No one does.”

The Rider family has acknowledged parallels to the situation of Justina Pelletier, the teen girl whose name has become synonymous with the injustice in the child welfare system. In that case, Massachusetts DCFS accused her parents of “medical child abuse” and broke up their family for well over a year.

So far, Isaiah Rider has been forcibly detained, outside his mother’s custody, for over 100 days. His fate and his freedom rests in the hands of unaccountable bureaucrats.

{ Support Police State USA }Accountability Check

Give the hospital and the child-snatching agency appropriate feedback.

Lurie Children’s Hospital
Phone: (312) 227-4000
Facebook: Link

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
Phone: 312.814.6800
Facebook: Link

Support the Rider family at the following websites:

Team Isaiah Rider | Facebook


Isaiah Rider sporting a shirt made by supporters. (Source: Team Isaiah Rider | Facebook)

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