Florida couple loses custody of son after stopping his chemotherapy
Authorities tracked down Joshua McAdams, 27, Taylor Bland-Ball, 23, and their son, who is also named Joshua McAdams, in Kentucky after police reported the child missing last Monday. The younger McAdams was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia last month and missed a scheduled chemotherapy treatment, the latter of which triggered a police alert.
Upon locating the family the night the child was reported missing, police filed an emergency order and removed the boy from his parents' custody. He is now under his maternal grandparents' care.
Both the older McAdams and Bland-Ball have since gone public and maintained that they were simply seeking alternative treatments for their son, who they say had been struggling with chemotherapy.
"He had vicious mood swings making him violent, making him very emotional. He also started to lose his hair right away after the first treatment," Bland-Ball told ABC 13.
The couple reportedly started giving the child CBD oil, fresh foods and clean alkaline water instead, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Their lawyer, Michael Minardi, said that the younger McAdams' most recent blood test last Wednesday showed no signs of leukemia, though Minardi did not specify whether it was the result of the alternative treatment.
"They're saying that this child is in immediate danger when the fact that there is...no cancer showing in his blood and there is no indication that at any point in time...that any cancer is going to come back in his body," Minardi said.
Last Thursday, the couple testified in court, claiming that they discontinued the chemotherapy because they had also been displeased with how the hospital staff had treated their son.
"The hospital's governing body was disorganized and the doctors were not pleasant or professional to us," the older McAdams told the judge. "It seemed like doctors were disappearing on us and just passing down Noah's information secondhand."
Unsatisfied, the parents said that they told hospital staff that they would seek a second opinion.
“We have phone records, we have voicemails we left for them and we even spoke to the social worker, the physician's assistant and the doctor to tell them we were seeking a second opinion,” Bland-Ball said.
Regardless, natural remedies — like the ones Bland-Ball and her husband had sought for their son — would have been ineffective in treating his cancer, Dr. Bijal D. Shah, head of the Moffitt Cancer Center’s acute lymphoblastic leukemia program, told the Tampa Bay Times this week.
"The reality is, what we risk by not taking chemotherapy, just as what we risk by not taking vaccines, is much, much worse.” Shah said.
The parents are now under an investigation that could possibly lead to criminal charges of medical neglect because they refused proper medical treatment for a child considered to be “gravely ill.”