One ordinary night in the Summer of 2016, August 13th to be exact, I was making spaghetti for my family. My hubby was at the fire station- so it was just me and my girls. I had just dropped my noodles into the pot of boiling hot water with just the right amount of salt and olive oil to make the dinner yummy when I was interrupted by a knock on my front door. Disturbed by my children trying to run towards the door, despite my previous warnings about how they should never go to the door when a stranger is there, I covertly peered through the decorative glass at the lady standing on my porch. She was friendly-looking enough, but I usually just ignored it when people were soliciting in my neighborhood- but not this night. I felt a nudge, in hind-sight I now attribute this to The Holy Spirit, a nudge of curiosity to figure out what this stranger wanted of me at this time of day. So, I cracked opened my front door while using my foot to keep our old yellow lab from nosing her way outside to this unexpected guest. As it turned out, this lady was non other than Cindy Burkett- my Texas State Representative for our district, She was out and about canvassing our neighborhood as part of her re-election campaign. We briefly discussed the republican party and how I couldn't believe that Donald Trump was likely the party nominee for President of the United States. After some brief political chitchat ensued, I decided to seize the opportunity to share my concerns about the state of CPS in Texas and demonstrated the great need for change by sharing my family's story of being falsely accused of child abuse. For 30-45 minutes, Cindy Burkett stood on my front porch and was initiated into my inner circle of people whom were told the details of the worst days of my life. She listened intently with disbelief and handed me her business card with her contact information with a promise to look into my concerns. I thanked her for her time and then she moved on to the next house. I felt thrilled to have met her and was excited about the possibility of getting to work with her to make some much needed changes to our CPS system and to the process of how cases like ours are handled.
Fast forward to November 15, 2016- Cindy Burkett was re-elected (she definitely got my vote). She pursued me! I got a private message and Facebook friend request from her. She later called me on my cell phone. This lady was legit and really was interested in what she could do to improve CPS through legislation. After getting some good feedback from other members of our Fractured Families Board of Directors and private community, I was able to offer suggestions for reform including the creation of a multidisciplinary team of physicians that are familiar with connective tissue disorders like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (the condition we have), Osteogenesis Imperfecta (also known as brittle bone disease), vitamin D deficiency Rickets and other metabolic bone disorders. This team would be involved with assessing children when there were unexplained fractures that might mimic child abuse injuries. The other concern that was addressed was how long and difficult it can be and was for families like ours to get their names cleared- even after a medical diagnosis explains the fractures. As a result of working together with Cindy Burkett and her legislative team, 2 house bills were drafted. House Bill 2848 speaks about the multidisciplinary team and the need for an anonymous peer review process to be put into place. House Bill 2849 speaks about the removal of names from the child abuse registry in a timely manner after findings of reason to believe abuse allegations have been overturned by a judge. These bills were filed in March 2017.
Our family of five plus my parents and Bria and Andrew Huber made a little road trip to Austin, TX to the State Capitol building and testified before the House of Representatives Committee of Juvenile Justice and Family Issues on April 5, 2017.
I was a crying hot mess but got to share our story of injustice and help paint a picture for them of the horrific damage that happens when innocent families are torn apart by these accusations and when medical misdiagnoses are made. Our prayer is that these bills will be voted on and passed in both the House and the Senate and will take effect in September 2017.
You just never know whom may come knocking on your door! My spaghetti noodles were completely overcooked and mushy, but man was it worth it to open the door to this opportunity to make a change for the good of others.
You can help make a change too by reaching out to your local state representatives and senators and ask them to support HB2848 and HB2849.
Find out who represents you in Texas by clinking here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx