Pubdate: Wed, 28 Feb 2018
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Michele Mandel
Page: 8


Victims of bad science at Motherisk

Return their children.

That's what they want - the parents who saw their kids ripped away
based on flawed alcohol and drug hair tests from the now shuttered
Motherisk lab at the famous Sick Children's hospital. A report tabled
this week examined 1,270 cases handled by the lab going back more than
two decades and found 56 clear cases where Motherisk's flawed test
results had a "substantial impact" on the decision to remove children
- - though critics argue there are far more.

Of those 56 cases, only four have resulted in the kids being reunited
with their families. The rest are likely lost forever to their
adoptive parents.

"Help get our kids back that were taken in the first place," one
mother wrote on a Facebook support group. "These were babies, now they
are six and four. You can't give us back the time and memories we have
lost. I am so bitter, and angry and this ALL over money and BS."

 From 2005 to '15, the Motherisk Laboratory at Sick Kids tested more
than 24,000 hair samples for drugs and alcohol from over 16,000
different people, a side business that reportedly generated $1.3
million a year. It was the gold standard used in court by child
welfare agencies to justify their apprehension orders. Like the once
respected pathologist Charles Smith, also from Sick Kids, the evidence
entered by the venerable hospital's lab was treated as sacrosanct.

The case of Tamara Bloomfield blew the lid off that erroneous

She was labelled Toronto's "crack mom" for supposedly feeding cocaine
to her son.

But in 2014, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned her conviction
after new evidence cast serious doubt on the faulty science behind the
Motherisk hair testing results.

Following an investigative series by the Toronto Star, retired Justice
Susan E. Lang was tasked by the Ontario government to review
Motherisk's lab procedures. Her damning report in 2015 found its hair
strand drug and alcohol testing was "inadequate and unreliable" for
use in child protection, determining it lacked oversight and wasn't
even accredited as a forensic lab to carry out testing for legal purposes.

The province ordered children's aid agencies to stop relying on hair
testing and told Sick Kids to shut down the Motherisk lab.

For many families, it all came far too late.

"This means that even where the discredited Motherisk hair testing
substantially affected the outcome of a case, the family will likely
have difficulty bringing about a change in the children's living
arrangements," commissioner Judith Beaman warned in her report
released Monday. "The decisions we make in child protection are often
devastating and irrevocable. That is why it is critical that only
reliable evidence and a fair process be used in the service of making
those decisions."

Many parents have filed lawsuits against the lab; an effort to file a
class-action suit was dismissed last fall.

One mother took to her support group to decry what this scandal has
done to families like hers. Her words cut to the heart.

"What no one reads, no one knows, or no one understands, is the extent
of the trauma it has caused. Many can't imagine how we feel or what we
go through everyday. To grieve the loss of a loved one who has not
passed," she wrote.

"The endless sadness and missing pieces of hearts. We no longer feel
whole but lost. The sleepless nights with flashbacks and nightmares.
The loss of trust in humanity and the anxiety that it accompanies. The
constant fear of, well ... everything. It has broken our lives and
relationships that go beyond just the parent and child(ren). We have
been violated, and we can't forget a moment of it.

"I lay in my bed behind a closed door and shed my tears
everyday/night. On the outside one may think I'm fine, but inside I
scream and relive moments of horror. They've taken even the simplest
task from parents. To love and protect them. What these people have
done is irreparable. One day I only hope I can forgive, but I will
never forget."

She signed herself "an extremely broken mother."

Why does this all sound so familiar? How is it that after the Charles
Smith debacle, Sick Kids seems to have learned nothing at all?
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt