TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - A day after setting off a multi-state search for a 3-year-old boy, considered by Hillsborough County investigators to be endangered, his parents' choices are igniting a heated debate.
Deputies said the child, Joshua Mcadams, whose parents call him Noah, was in need of life-saving medical care, but his father and mother, Joshua McAdams, 28, and Taylor Bland-Ball, 22, failed to bring him to a court-ordered, medically-necessary hospital procedure April 22.
"Child protective investigators don't always get involved in cases involving a sick kid," said Crystal Clark, a spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. "This wasn't a case of a parent just choosing not to get their child a flu shot. [Investigators] felt like this child was extremely ill, needed medical assistance and, if they didn't intervene, he wasn't going to get it. So, in this case, they felt like if a child's life was at risk, they couldn't just sit back and allow the parents to make a poor decision that could ultimately take his life."
The family was found Monday in Kentucky and Noah was taken for the treatments he needed. Charges of child neglect are pending for his parents, HCSO said.
In a post on her Facebook page Tuesday afternoon, Bland-Ball wrote, "We are okay. They are taking Noah. We are on our way back to Florida tonight. Thank you so much for your support. Our hearts our (sic) broken and all we want is for our boy to get HEALTHY BIOLOGICALLY SOUND TREATMENT."
The family had previously written about Noah's condition on the website for the Florida Freedom Alliance, which is supporting Noah's parents. According to the post, the child was diagnosed with a form of Leukemia and, following two chemotherapy treatments, was cancer-free.
Doctors, however, instructed the family that treatment needed to continue. The parents refused, preferring instead to seek out medical alternatives and then taking their son out of the state. A judge stepped in Monday and ordered them to bring him back for treatment.
"Where does a parent's rights end and where do the government's rights begin?" asked Erin Marie Olszewski, a registered nurse who runs the Florida Freedom Alliance. "The government being able to walk in and say, 'You have to be doing this,' is just an overreach of our First Amendment rights. We have that freedom and we should be able to decide what's best."
FOX 13 medical reporter Dr. Joette Giovinco said the treatment advised by doctors is based on years of research, and has proven to be effective.
"Even though there's no detectable sign of cancer, it does not mean that there are not cancer cells hiding. And so when you treat this type of Leukemia, you treat to remission and then you have to continue treating to make sure it doesn't relapse," Dr. Jo said. "This is a treatment plan that has proven to be effective in not only eliminating cancer initially but also long-term keeping it from coming back. It doesn't mean that it won't but, generally speaking, when cancers do relapse they're harder to treat."
Noah's parents are scheduled to appear in court Wednesday afternoon. It's unclear who currently has custody of the child and if he's received any further cancer treatments.