2021 was the year that many parents woke up to the fact that Washington state law allows minors 13 and over to have complete privacy when it comes to their medical and mental health records. This isn’t a new thing – it’s been going on for decades – but it’s now being fully enforced by medical providers, schools, etc.
Many parents received a notice from Evergreen Health Care at the end of March 2021 letting them know that as of April 5, 2021 they would no longer be able to access their child’s medical records. Health care institutions are finally catching up and implementing the law.
I received this in my inbox as my 14-year-old daughter was being transported by medics from Seattle Children’s Hospital to a hospital in Idaho, where we would be able to be the parents and help our child get the treatment she desperately needed. You see, while she was at SCH (Seattle Children’s Hospital), we were unable to have any part in her treatment and the providers working with our daughter were advocating for her to return to a homeless youth shelter in a shady neighborhood in North Seattle.
About two weeks before this email was sent, our family learned the hard way about this “mature minor” law when our daughter was taken to the emergency room at SCH in mid-March. Upon discharge the staff let us know that our daughter would not be returning home but rather would be going to stay at the Paul G. Allen Hope Center, a homeless shelter for youth. “Absolutely not!”, we said. Our daughter has a home…a good home. She has a family who loves her dearly.
“That’s not your decision to make. She is 14 and she gets to decide.”
If you currently have or have raised a teenager, you know how absolutely insane this idea is – to let children make decisions regarding their medical and mental healthcare. I guess the idea behind this law was to protect children in abusive situations who wouldn’t be able to get the care they need because of a parent or guardian preventing it. Those cases are not the “norm” and to create a blanket law like this is not the answer and I’m pretty sure the lawmakers know this.
This is yet another attack on the nuclear family. The government wants control of our children, and the medical/mental health care industry has become the easiest, most effective place for them to get it.
Our daughter spent 11 days in The Paul G. Allen Hope Center in Seattle. During those 11 days she was under the “guidance” of an unlicensed social worker, employed by YouthCare. She was given a razor while in their care that she used to self-harm, which required another trip to the emergency room at SCH. While she was there, the shelter staff changed her records to reflect their names and addresses as the contacts for our child. She was discharged back to the shelter, without our consent.
While she was there, we learn that the shelter is working to help our daughter file a CHINS (Child In Need of Services) petition, with the help of an attorney in their organization. If successful, this would have terminated our parental rights and made the shelter her legal guardian. Game over. We realize we are racing against the clock to get our daughter out of the hands of these people. Keep in mind, these are organizations that are promoted by our schools, our media, our health care providers and more. We’re sold the idea that these organizations are to help those in need. As we read through emails, we are alarmed that these “helpers” want to steal our child.
Two days after our daughter was discharged from SCH emergency room to the shelter, we show up to get her. We had previously been denied telephone access and later learned she had not even been told we called. When we showed up, we were not allowed to see or speak with our daughter. This left us no choice but to call 911 and ask the police to help us get our daughter. What started with 2 police officers ended several hours later with 8 officers and 2 medics. Our daughter was transported back to SCH emergency room where once again, we were not allowed to participate in her care. And thus began the 48-hour fight to get her out of Washington state.
It’s the end of December as I write this and our daughter is still out of state, receiving treatment. I thank God for the people who intervened and help us get her out of Washington. I don’t know if she would be alive today had we not been able to rescue her from the grip of these evil people who had no intention of helping her and wanted to take her from her family who loves her.
I wish I could say our experience with YouthCare and The Paul G. Allen Hope Center ends there but it doesn’t. Our daughter is a twin and in early November we received a call from the Hope Center asking our permission for her twin sister to stay in their shelter. Thinking she had been spending the night at a friend’s house, we were horrified…terrified…at this call. “How would she even know to call this shelter?” This daughter has autism and it didn’t make sense to us how she would have even thought to call a shelter…or WHY!!
After we get her home safely with the help of a wonderful sheriff’s deputy, we learn that the team from YouthCare had made a presentation to her special ed classroom at her high school. They promoted their shelter as a place kids can go to “get away from a hard situation at home.” Let me repeat that: they made this presentation ONLY to special needs students!! These are students who often don’t have the ability to fully understand information like this and its intended purpose.
They prey on vulnerable children. And our public schools enable them to do it.
Our families are under attack. Parenting is under attack. Our children are being stalked and preyed on by these people.
2021 was our “wake up year” as far as parental rights in Washington state. After the hell we have been through it has become one of my personal top priorities to fight back, to regain parental rights and to wake up other parents. Please don’t think this is something that happens to other people…this can happen to ANYONE. It is becoming more prevalent, and these people are getting more access to our children.
Regardless your political views, I hope that as parents we can unite to protect our children.
This is a difficult and emotional story to tell, and we are very grateful to those who have covered it so well. Our story has been well-documented by amazing journalists like Todd Herman, host of The Todd Herman Show & Podcast (who did a series of 4 interviews), Abigail Shrier, best-selling author of Irreversible Damage and Carrie Abbott of Relationship Insights.
*By Julie Barrett, Founder, Conservative Ladies of Washington