A judge in Cook County, Ill., has ruled that a Missouri teenager is a victim of medical child abuse and should not be returned to the custody of his mother.
It was another setback for Michelle Rider, whose 17-year-old son, Isaiah, remains hospitalized in Chicago. The Northland teen has neurofibromatosis but is a ward of the state of Illinois because the Department of Children and Family Services there believes his mother is interfering with his treatment.
A judge on Monday agreed. Rider and her attorneys argue that the court is interfering and that she has her son’s best interests at heart.
“He’s been out of my care for eight months now and he has not improved,” Michelle Rider said Tuesday. “He’s actually worse than when he was in Kansas City. He is highly medicated and is having seizures.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
A third phase of the legal proceeding in coming months will focus on whether to permanently sever Rider’s authority to make medical decisions regarding her son.
The custody battle earlier this year began when Isaiah was in a Chicago hospital and his mother wanted to move him to another facility. The state of Illinois argues Isaiah is a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, in which a parent exaggerates a child’s condition to attract attention.
Joe Cecala, Rider’s attorney, said Tuesday the state and the court wrongly contend Isaiah’s symptoms are primarily psychological and are brought on by his mother. Isaiah has not been allowed to testify on his own behalf.
In Missouri law, a person at 17 can make his or her own decisions. In Illinois, a person can remain a ward of the state until age 21, Cecala said.
“It’s absurd,” Cecala said of the legal proceedings in Illinois. “This is a war between a mother who wants to exercise her freedom to be a parent and psychiatric conclusions.”
Isaiah was in a Chicago hospital in April when Rider wanted to move him to another facility in another state. The hospital reported her for medical child abuse, and Isaiah was placed in temporary protective custody..
He was later allowed to live with Rider’s parents in the Kansas City area but was ordered back to Chicago earlier this month.