HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A day after a Florida judge ruled that the parents of a 4-year-old boy with leukemia won’t regain custody of him, the boy’s mother posted an emotional message on Instagram.
The boy, Noah McAdams, was removed from his parents’ custody in April when they skipped a chemotherapy session and left the state in pursuit of alternative treatments.
On Monday, Sept. 9, Hillsborough County Unified Family Court Judge Thomas Palermo denied a bid by Noah’s parents, Taylor Bland and Joshua McAdams, to regain custody of him.
Bland, in a message posted Tuesday, Sept. 10 to the social media platform, asked Palermo a series of questions.
“Are you going to be there rubbing his back at 2 a.m. when he’s up crying his belly hurts and puking?” she wrote. “Are you going to explain to him why his beautiful long hair is coming out in chunks? Are you going to hold him and make him smoothies and juices when his mouth hurts so bad from methotrexate sores, he can barely eat?”
She also asked the judge if he would lie with Noah when the boy is too tired to get out of bed, would he rub Noah’s feet when he’s experiencing neuropathy, or if he would take “the bites, punches, kicks, (and) screams” when Noah suffers a mental breakdown.
In a photo that accompanied the Instagram post, Bland’s eyes were closed and she was holding her closed left fist against her mouth. The number “133” was written in red ink on her fist, an apparent reference to the number of nights Noah’s parents had been without him.
“I hope this sits with you in the darkest hours, on the latest nights, like the many dark and lonely nights I have sat through without my child, for 133 lonely nights, while you have yours,” she wrote.
Bland ended her message with a dig at the judge and a hashtag:
“I hope you remember the face of a mother that loves her baby, since you wouldn’t even look at me yesterday. #BringNoahHome.”
Palermo would not comment on Bland’s message, a court spokesman said.
“The judges are precluded from commenting by their canon of ethics,” spokesman Mike Moore told CNN. “He issues his ruling. That is the judge’s comment on cases.”
A search for an alternative
Bland and McAdams’ fight for natural cancer treatment for Noah garnered national attention after a multistate police search ensued after they skipped the chemotherapy appointment and took Noah for a consultation in Cincinnati with an alternative medicine practitioner.
In court Monday, Palermo ordered Noah to remain a dependent of the state, ruling that he would stay in the care of his maternal grandmother, according to Brooke Elvington, an attorney for Bland and McAdams.
Noah’s parents would still be allowed to visit and attend medical appointments under supervision, the attorney said.
Bland and McAdams were “obviously devastated” by the judge’s decision, she said.
“Noah is going through an absolutely traumatic medical experience, and he is doing so without his parents,” Elvington told CNN.
A lengthy custody battle
Noah, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in April, was in state custody after police removed him from his parents’ custody in Kentucky.
A dependency court judge then ordered Noah to complete the prescribed chemotherapy treatment against his parents’ wishes.
About 98% of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia “go into remission within weeks of starting treatment,” according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Noah’s parents had asked the court to let them forgo chemotherapy in favor of alternative treatments, including medicinal cannabis, vitamins, and a dietary plan. They previously informed doctors that they wanted to seek a second opinion and pursue alternatives, Bland told CNN.
Now, in conjunction with the court-ordered chemotherapy protocol, Noah received THC and CBD oil for about a month, according to the family’s attorney. The family was unhappy with the treatment Noah received at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Tampa, and they were still pursuing oncology options at other hospitals, Elvington told CNN.
The judge ruled Monday that Bland and McAdams undergo psychological evaluations as a part of the process to potentially regain custody, Elvington said, with 30 days to appeal the judge’s decision. A disposition hearing to discuss the Child Protective Services case plan for family reunification was scheduled for Oct. 1, the lawyer said.
The hospital earlier declined to comment on the case, citing laws protecting patient privacy. The Florida Attorney General’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.