‘All the things we’ve hoped and prayed for’: Happy ending after Troubleshooter parental rights investigation
SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Sometimes in life, just when you think it can’t get any worse, it actually can.
“We’ve lost all hope,” Jeremy Haydon said in October. “We’ve lost all hope. We’ve lost all faith.”
When Jeremy Haydon came to me last October, he had an impossible-sounding dilemma.
His son Andrew, suffering a myriad of severe health conditions after a stroke at birth, needed care his family could no longer provide. After being approved for every kind of specialty care you can get in Kentucky he was told he couldn’t get any specialty care in Kentucky unless he gave up his parental rights.
“Told me Kentucky is a way under-resourced state for caring for children with special needs, and he said it’s not uncommon for parents to have to sign their children over to the state, put them in the state’s care, in order to get them the care they need,” Haydon said.
“So the answer to your inquiries was you need to sign your child over to the state?” I asked.
“Correct,” he said.
We learned not only was something like that possible, it was happening to other families in Kentucky.
“We’re looking at three parallel cases for members of the General Assembly and there’s also a Louisville media outlet looking at a fourth case and they’re all identical,” Kentucky Youth Advocates Director Terry Brooks told lawmakers at a state hearing. “For some reason, what the parents face is, to get the medical help they need, the only achievable way to do that is to give up custody.”
Brooks got to work, WAVE News got to work and Jeremy Haydon got to work trying to find a solution to an unimaginable choice. But none came.
Then, on one of his trips to an out-of-state hospital caring for Andrew in the interim, Jeremy got a call informing him his case was being turned over to Child Protective Services and now he faced having Andrew taken away from him.
“Literally in that moment my whole world crashed,” Haydon said. “Everything I felt like I’d been fighting for was just done. It was just over with.”
Out of desperation, on a Friday night, he called his State Representative Jennifer Decker.
“It was shocking,” Decker said. “It was scary to think this could happen, and I had been trying to help, had not been effective.”
She made calls to the people in charge.
“It seemed to me it was just backwards,” Decker said. “If we say to that caring person, ‘No, you have to give up your rights before we can help you,’ that just seemed the opposite of anything I would hope state government would be.”
“Just a feeling of lost and hopelessness and in a hole I didn’t know how to crawl back out of,” Haydon said.
And it was then, when he had reached the very bottom of this horrible hole, the light finally shined down on his family.
“This was 7:00 on a Friday night that they made a verbal agreement that they were going to enter into a single-case agreement with a special needs group home to stay at in Kentucky,” Haydon said. “To receive 24/7 one-to-one care, everything he needed, all the things we’ve hoped and prayed for years for him, all came together in a two-hour time frame.”
Decker was told it was all a misunderstanding and there is no regulation in Kentucky for parents of special needs children to give up their parental rights to get the help they need.
Haydon said it was no misunderstanding. He said he was told that directly by a social worker in his home.
“I’m so blessed and thankful my case is done, but I hate that there are other parents going through this,” Haydon said. “I know a couple directly, their child has been placed in Florida because there’s no care for him in Kentucky. Now his family is going back and forth from Kentucky to Florida to spend time with their son.”
Jeremy said Andrew was thriving in his new facility only 40 minutes from their home. The only hang-up was inaccessible shower access for him there.
Kosair Charities saw my original report, reached out asking how they could help, and they paid for the fully remodeled bathroom for him.
“I’m forever in your debt for listening to me and coming here and being the first person to help me and to text me and email me and check in and follow up,” Haydon said.
It gets better. Haydon has been invited to be a member of a Medicaid Services Advisory Group now meeting to look into the problem.
“Going through this whole process of whether to sign my rights over, so many people told me ‘Oh, it’s just signing a piece of paper, you’re still Dad,’” Haydon said. “But for me in my heart it didn’t feel that way. It was bigger than that. Something is wrong in our system.”
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