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Emily Layman knew her son, Cain, needed medical help. She just never expected she'd be blamed for his injuries and have both of her children taken away.
It's a case that mirrors thousands across the country as parents are wrongfully accused of abusing children that seem to show symptoms consistent of shaken baby syndrome or other physical abuse.
There's just one problem.
“Since our son, Cain, was born we knew there was something going on with him," Emily said. "At birth, he was covered in bruises all over his body, even his tongue was bruised. The nurses at the hospital were blown away because they had never seen bruising to that extent or in those areas. The bruising was documented in Cain’s medical records, but no follow up testing was done."
She said they brought Cain home but he continued to deal with a number of health problems.
"We knew something was wrong," she said. He didn't sleep much, would projectile vomit and bruised "at the slightest touch." Cain's pediatrician at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said there was nothing wrong but when he was three weeks old, Emily and her husband decided to try the Children's Hospital.
There, they learned that he had three rib fractures. The medical staff decided to x-ray both of their sons and the oldest, Grey, was fine but Cain's injuries were consistent with child abuse and the doctor there reported the family. Social services removed both boys.
"It was the most traumatic night of our lives. After our children were removed we traveled all over the United States trying to find answers for our son. Cain was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Metabolic Bone Disease. Though we have received answers and diagnoses from multiple medical experts, the accusing child abuse pediatrician still stands by her diagnosis of abuse. So now it’s a battle of experts that will have to be fought out in court as we are facing up to 74 years in prison for felony abuse charges."
She said the two are terrified that they may face life just for trying to get Cain the medical attention he needed.
Changing the Law
Right now, in many states, mandatory reporters are the only opinion standing between a family and foster care. In Texas, mother Lorina Troy successfully changed the law after her sons were wrongfully taken. She's working with other parents and legislators across the nation to get a federal counterpart.
Layman wants to do the same:
"My goal is to hopefully create change in legislation to prevent this from happening to other innocent families. Recently, I assisted in a bill proposal in Pennsylvania, along with other fractured families, to change the corrupt system. This bill will require mandatory second opinions from medical experts and testing for medical conditions such as EDS that can mimic abuse, before a determination of abuse can be made."
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