TAMPA, Fla. - A judge has ruled the parents of a young cancer patient will not regain custody of the little boy, citing concerns they neglected him by depriving him of necessary medical care.
Joshua McAdams and Taylor Bland-Ball will not regain custody of their 4-year-old son, Noah. Judge Thomas Palermo said the Attorney General's Office proved Noah's parents intentionally deprived their son of necessary chemotherapy treatments for leukemia, endangering his health.
Noah McAdams was diagnosed with cancer back in April and then removed from the care of his parents after they stopped Noah's chemotherapy to seek alternative treatments in Kentucky. A judge put Noah into the care of his maternal grandmother and the parents have been trying to regain custody ever since.
Noah's doctors recommended chemotherapy, which Noah's mother testified she had reluctantly agreed to at the time, but she questioned doctors about the side effects other treatment options.
"I don't think I could ever be comfortable just fully putting these things into my son's body that I didn't know what exactly they were," she said in court in August, "that no one had really explained to me but I thought that it was more risky to not do it at the time."
However, after two rounds of chemotherapy, Noah's parents abruptly stopped his treatment. Instead of bringing him back for his third round of chemotherapy, they brought Noah to Kentucky in search of a natural treatment, prompting a search for the little boy by officials.
The family was brought back to Florida and the four-year-old was put in custody of his maternal grandmother, with the order to continue treatment.
Monday, Judge Palermo pointed out parents have a fundamental right to parent their child, but that “that right has limits.”
The judge said the particular type of chemotherapy being given to Noah has a 70-year track record with 90-95% success rate, adding, “There was no alternative with a remote chance of success.”
“They were choosing between life and death for their child,” Judge Palermo said.
Judge Palermo said Noah was at risk because parents rejected medical treatment that might be difficult to endure but has proven overwhelmingly effective.
The judge also found Noah’s parents present a continuing risk to the child, given what he said was a history of conflicting and not-credible statements. Judge Palermo said Noah's parents did not seem to have plans for legitimate treatment when they went to Kentucky and that their efforts to elude law enforcement were dangerous.
Among the reasons cited by Judge Palermo for his decision were evidence the parents dumped a car and cell phones while traveling to Kentucky, the parents' decision to remove Noah's PICC line, and Noah's father's "proclivity for aggression" towards family members.
The judge ruled Noah will stay in the custody of his maternal grandmother. His parents will have a chance to regain custody by working with child protection agencies and comply with all of their recommendations.