Linfield alumna fights for child custody in rickets case
Ever since Nov. 10, Linda Dossey, class of ‘09, has been fighting for the right to regain custody of her 3-month-old son, who was taken away from Dossey and her husband with accusations of child abuse.
Joss Dossey has been in the possession of a medical foster care home for six months. Linda and her husband, Daniel, are allowed to visit several times a week, but they are fighting for the custody of their child.
Junior Daphne Dossett, Linda’s younger sister, said that it was hard to watch the incident unravel.
“My sister, as well as my brother-in-law, are great parents,” she said. “They also have a 20-month-old daughter, my adorable niece, who is in perfect health and very smart for her age.
It constantly makes me sad and angry that the court system, as well as the Department of Human Services, are doing this to such a loving family.”
The DHS pulled Joss from his parents’ home two days after he was diagnosed with a femoral fracture on Nov. 8.
Daniel brought his son to the hospital that day because Joss had been fussy and had a low fever.
Linda and Daniel assumed that their son’s discomfort had to do with a stomach ache or gassiness, but they wanted to ensure that there weren’t complications they were unaware of.
A nurse at Willamette Valley Medical Center in McMinnville checked Joss, noting that he didn’t seem to have any swelling or bruising and that all his joints had a normal range of movement.
Daniel said an emergency room doctor also examined Joss and noticed that Joss’ legs were pulled tightly to his abdomen, which is a sign that a baby could be experiencing stomach pain or gassiness.
In a letter posted to his blog on Feb. 5, Daniel wrote that as the doctor manipulated the baby’s legs, the child screamed loudly.
At the time, aside from feeling sympathetic, the Dosseys said they didn’t think the scream was especially concerning.
After further investigation and several x-rays, technicians informed the Dosseys that their son needed to be transferred to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital because he had a femoral fracture on his left leg.
The Dosseys said they were unaware of the fracture, as Joss hadn’t been acting as if the leg was causing him pain.
Doctors and a police officer questioned the family closely, asking if the parents had beaten Joss or if he had been involved in any accidents that could have induced the damage.
Although the Dosseys denied these accusations, the medical staff was required to file a report of the incident, and DHS took Joss away from his family on Nov. 10 with accusations of child abuse.
After more extensive testing, it was revealed that Joss had neonatal rickets, which is a metabolic bone disease that can compromise bone density and strength, which led the Dosseys to believe that their son’s fracture was the result of this previously-undiagnosed disease.
The family began the judicial hearing process on Jan. 5.
“The problem with this process is that it is held in the Juvenile Courts and rather than using “beyond a reasonable doubt” they use “preponderance of evidence,” which refers to balancing the evidence,” Daniel said.
Daniel said that it was made clear that the hospital had lost blood tests, including a vitamin D test and phosphorus, ionized calcium and PTH tests, which are all vital for diagnosing rickets.
The Dosseys said they even had a doctor testify that Moss had neonatal rickets.
“The state provided numerous medical
witnesses, and each of these witnesses except Dr.
Valvano, a child abuse expert who has been a doctor for since 2005, had admitted that if my son had a medical condition of bone fragility, it could explain his fractures,” Daniel said.
He said the unexplained bone fractures were the only diagnosed injuries and that it was even noted in court that there was likely a new rib fracture after Joss was placed in foster care.
Dossett said her family has continued to fight for custody of Joss, which has included seeking help from multiple doctors, radiologists and an attorney.
“We are also going to appeal,” Dossett said. “I am just concerned because I know that appeals can take a long time and I want my nephew back with my family as soon as possible, back to the healthiest and most loving place he can be.”
Joanna Peterso/Managing editor
Joanna Peterson can be reached at email@example.com.