Apr 12, 2013 12:18 AM by Steven Albritton
Life changed forever for the Spaetgens family, when they found their infant daughter, Callie, unresponsive in October 2011. She died four days later of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Out of that tragedy, the family suffered even more heartbreak. Their other two children, Maddelynn and Gracie, were taken away from them.
When a doctor at the hospital first examined Callie, he suspected abuse and reported it to child protective services. A second doctor's opinion found no signs of abuse but because of the first report, the damage was already done. The state opened an investigation and the Spaetgens were only allowed to be with their other two children in the presence of other adults. They had to move in with friends and family so they could be a family.
"For those five and a half months we weren't able to go home because the only way to be around our children and acquire that care plan was to stay in someone else's home so we could be with our children," Amanda Spaetgens said.
The second doctor's examination found evidence Callie died after reacting to a medication. The reaction caused her to have renal hemorrhaging, which is also a sign of shaken baby syndrome. Those symptoms are why the first doctor ruled abuse.
"I felt it was a slight injustice because we had never hurt our children. We'd been falsely accused and were kind of guilty until proven innocent," Spaetgens said.
District 25 State Senator Dan Morrish has filed a bill to keep this from happening to other families. The legislation will require a third opinion if two initial examinations don't agree.
"It's very humbling to know that from such a tragedy and such a terrible experience, we're able to take something positive from it and actually protect those families that might find themselves in my shoes someday," Spaetgens said.
Amanda Spaetgens plans to speak on the Senate committee floor in hopes of helping push this bill through.
The finished investigation showed the Spaetgens didn't abuse their baby and that they were not a danger to their other children. as for cases like this which are investigated but found not to be child abuse, the Department of Children & Family Services Spokesperson says, "We can't do anything without our partners. We work with law enforcement, Doctors and Judges and all those things play into the whole picture of what's going on. Each case is individualized and unique; and our overall priority is the safety of the child."