Judge Denies Custody To Parents Who Allegedly Chose Natural Remedies Over Chemo For Son
The Florida couple reportedly defied doctors and pursued alternate treatments such as “cannabis therapy.”
Parents accused of preventing their 4-year-old son with leukemia from getting chemotherapy will not regain custody at this time, a Florida judge reportedly decided.
According to NBC News, Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Palermo on Monday ruled Noah would face "substantial risk of imminent neglect" if returned to his parents. Authorities in May reportedly removed the boy from the home of his parents, Joshua McAdams, 27, and Taylor Bland-Ball, 22.
The Tampa Bay Times reported doctors diagnosed Noah with lymphoblastic leukemia in April. According to the National Cancer Institute, lymphoblastic leukemia in a child is a type of cancer that causes bone marrow to create an excess of immature white blood cells, and chemotherapy is a standard treatment.
The District Attorney's office alleged McAdams and Bland-Ball took Noah to two chemotherapy sessions, but failed to show up for a third.
The parents reportedly dropped out of sight in May to pursue alternative healing methods. The Tampa Bay Times described those purported remedies as, "cannabis therapy, oxygen therapy, an alkaline diet, and herbal remedies."
The family's sudden and unexplained disappearance reportedly prompted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to issue an endangered child alert. Authorities reportedly later located the family in Kentucky.
The Florida Attorney General's Office alleged Noah's parents deprived him of necessary medical treatment. It also claimed McAdams and Bland-Ball would likely leave again with the child if left in their care.
Authorities reportedly removed Noah from the family's home and placed him with his maternal grandparents.
At a custody hearing in August, Bland-Ball reportedly shared her thoughts on chemotherapy. According to Tampa Bay's WTVT-TV, she said, in part:
"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 … no one had really explained [it] to me."
In announcing his decision, Judge Palermo reportedly said prosecutors proved Noah's parents endangered the child's health by depriving him of necessary medical treatments.
The judge noted the type of chemotherapy recommended for Noah is a treatment used by doctors for the past 70 years and has a 90-95% success rate. "There was no alternative with a remote chance of success," the judge said, according to WTVT-TV.
Judge Palermo also reportedly said McAdams and Bland-Ball, "were choosing between life and death for their child."
For now, Noah will reportedly remain with his grandparents. But, according to WTVT-TV, the boy's parents could regain custody by working with child protection agencies and complying with recommendations.