A California mother who won over $1 million in legal settlements after the state removed her sons from her custody is continuing to speak out about the long-term trauma that unnecessary family separation causes on families.
Rachel Bruno was awarded $1.49 million in legal settlements against Orange County, Los Angeles County, and Children’s Hospital last year.
Her two sons were removed from her custody in 2015 after her 7-week-old son suffered a cranial fracture and intracerebral hemorrhage. Bruno was stripped of her custody without a warrant or a court order.
Raised as a daughter and granddaughter of pastors, Bruno never thought she would be under police investigation and losing custody of her children. But that’s exactly what happened.
Bruno said she never abused her son but was immediately under investigation by police after she took her crying baby to the hospital and he was diagnosed with severe brain bleeding.
Within a matter of hours, according to Bruno, police ordered that her older son, who was 20 months old at the time, be removed from her custody.
Before she even had a court hearing, Bruno said, Child Protective Services agents were asking her mother if she would sign papers to adopt both of Bruno’s children. Bruno’s mother did so under the threat that the children would be placed in foster care if she didn’t.
“Before this happened to me, I probably would have never believed it. And I think that’s where a lot of people fall,” Bruno told The Christian Post in a recent interview.
Bruno also said she was ordered to take a child abuse class. Even though she thought she would be taking a class with drug addicts, alcoholics, and domestic abusers, she found that many people in her class were in a similar situation as her.
“When I get there and people start telling their stories, I realize everybody’s in the same boat that I am,” she said. “There were families in there who had playground accidents [and were accused of] child abuse.”
Another family in the class, she said, had a child who slipped in a bathtub. They were also accused of child abuse, she said.
Bruno also had to take a parenting class, do a polygraph test, a psychiatric evaluation, and oblige other requests from the CPS agency. And she wasn’t allowed to return to her own home for 40 days and 40 nights, and was only given seven hours of visitation with her children each week.
According to Bruno, government officials also took her 20-month-old son and gave him a full medical examination, including an anal wink test to check for sexual abuse. Additionally, her son received 13 vaccinations without her consent.
Although she was allowed to return home after a month, Bruno said it took quite a bit of time for her 20-month-old son to accept her as his mother. Bruno said her son felt she had abandoned him even though it was not her choice to be separated.
“My 20 month old, he was really traumatized,” Bruno said. “He kept rejecting me for probably about a year.”
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith