A couple in Houston was just reunited with their baby girl after four months apart because a Child Protective Services (CPS) caseworker reportedly made a baseless claim that the parents didn’t believe in “Western” medicine, accusing them of child abuse. The couple’s lawyers said this assumption was made simply because they are Chinese immigrants.
Baby Casey Lee was born seven weeks premature in spring 2020 and had a well-documented history of medical problems. Mom Wenqi Hao and the baby’s father had taken Casey to 34 doctors’ visits and had followed all instructions regarding prescribed medicine and working with their baby’s feeding tube.
Despite this history of care and support for their infant daughter, when the parents took baby Casey to Texas Children’s Hospital in January 2021 for a broken leg, CPS began investigating them for child abuse.
“I need a lawyer. I need a lawyer,” said Wenqi Hao told ABC 13 News of how she felt at the time. “Because (I’m from) a different country, different culture, my English is not good.”
Attorney Thuy Le and her co-counsel Mike Schneider represented Casey’s parents in the court battle with CPS. While the case was ongoing, the baby was required to live with a caregiver. Luckily, a neighbor offered to care for Casey, so the mom and dad could see her every day.
“Every night I clean baby. After clean baby, I leave my neighbor’s home,” said Hao. “My neighbor tells me, every time I close the door, my neighbor cries for me. It’s horrible.”
The lawyers argued that the CPS caseworker made a racist, stereotypical claim about Casey’s parents based on zero facts.
“We tried to tell CPS, ‘Listen this is not a case of abuse. If you pull the medical records, you see mom and her husband have brought this baby over 34 times to different medical professionals to deal with medical issues,'” Le said. “This case was really about stereotypes of these two parents. When you talk to them, and talk to other doctors, everything indicates that these parents have done everything they could to support their baby.”
“This caseworker claimed these parents didn’t believe in American medicine, they just believed in Chinese medicine,” said Schneider. “The caseworker fabricated this entire story based on an Asian stereotype that they don’t trust western medicine. ‘They just are into Chinese medicine,’ which is the opposite of true.”
Last week, the judge ruled in favor of Casey’s parents, finding nothing to substantiate allegations of abuse. The baby, who is about to celebrate her first birthday, is now happily back at home with her parents.
In a statement to the news station on Wednesday, CPS said it “does not tolerate discrimination against any group based on its ethnicity or beliefs.”
While Casey’s parents are generally private people, they said they are sharing their story to let anyone with language or cultural barriers know that they can still fight for their rights, and that there are people willing to help.
“My English is not good, and so many (people) helped,” said Hao. “I want to do something to help other people. I’m so lucky. I’m so, so lucky.”