We all traveled together in those days because the children were then ages 7, 12. 12. 14. 16. And 18 and there is only one parent. I still prefer not to have them away (ages now 11-22). All of us speak by telephone every day (usually during an evening Bible reading).
We were then on a trip in a pickup truck (two doors with back seat) and were visiting Dr. R. B. Merrifield, a scientist at Rockefeller University who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for being the first to synthesize an enzyme and for the development of related techniques. Rockefeller University is in New York City and, for the visit, we were all dressed in the best clothes we had with us. The plan was to visit the lab at Rockefeller and then spend the weekend at Dr. Merrifield's home in New Jersey.
Matthew had developed a cough, so Dr. Merrifield suggested that Mrs. Merrifield could make an appointment with a pediatrician. The Merrifield's raised several children, but all were grown, so she just picked a pediatric clinic from the yellow pages. We arrived there after hours at 5:30 p.m., so two women M.D.s and two nurses were on after-hours duty.
Matthew and I went in, while the other five children waited in the truck. After an about one-half hour wait and following the quickest physical exam I have ever seen, one of the pediatricians announced that Matthew appeared to have a very serious, rapidly fatal bacterial infection - which could be stopped only by immediate hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. I called our pediatrician in Oregon, who told me that the disease, while rare, did exist - and he could not, of course, advise about Matthew without seeing him.
So, the other children went on to the Merrifield's, while Matthew, Arynne, and I went to the hospital. (Arynne also had a cough, but wound up sleeping in the pickup that very cold night because the hospital would not allow her inside unless I admitted her.) Curiously, the Dr. did not suggest examination of the other children who had, presumably, been exposed to this dread and contagious illness. The admitting physician at the hospital seemed confused, since she could find nothing wrong with Matthew other than a bad cold - but she dutifully ordered a set of x-rays and administered the IV and an intermittent respirator, while telling me "you have nothing to worry about" and commenting that our Dr. must have "a very low threshold." I was later to learn that the hospital record code number for Matthew designated "admitted for reasons other than a medical emergency."
What I did not know throughout that night at Matthew's bedside was that, when we visited the clinic, one of the staff members noticed the truck and asked the children to talk with her and to get out of the truck. She, being a stranger, they refused to do either. The Dr. then called New Jersey social services and a plan to trap us through hospitalizing Matthew was decided upon. My first warning was when a woman from New Jersey social services appeared in the hospital room late the next morning backed (in the hallway outside) by two men with guns - one detective and one police officer. She repeatedly demanded that I leave the room to meet with them, which I, fortunately, refused to do.
The interrogation of me that followed (in the room with her running back and forth to talk to the men outside) then centered almost exclusively upon our finances. How much money was in my wallet? How much did our home cost? Where did we get the money to buy it? Etc. In retrospect, I believe that their main purpose was to determine whether or not we were wealthy enough to fight them. After a couple of hours, they demanded to see the other children. So, after reaching an agreement that, if I left Matthew's room, I would be permitted to go back in, we drove to the Merrifields - detective, social worker, and me.
Since we refused the social worker's demand to see the children alone, she questioned them in the presence of Mrs. Merrifield and me - while the detective questioned Dr. Merrifield in another room. Before beginning, the social worker gave us a short talk on how good she was with children. After a couple of hours of this, the two conferred and then left. Professor Merrifield told me that the detective said the most suspicious evidence was that the children were "too quiet." Dr. Merrifield said he kept telling the guy that children learn by example, but he wouldn't believe him.
Back at the hospital, they still refused to release Matthew. However, after I agreed to participate in meetings and examinations the next morning, they let him out. We, of course, immediately drove out of the state.
When I asked later for the state records of this episode, I was told that they were sealed. I was not to be allowed to read them.
Several things should be realized. First, most states have passed laws allowing them to receive child abuse money from the federal government. When a child is seized, these programs provide over $100,000 per child which pays the people who seize the child and their retainers in the police dept., child services, foster homes, etc. Our family was worth at least $500,000 to the social services industry of New Jersey. Second, these laws specify that certain professionals - including MDs - are guilty of a serious crime if, knowing about a potential case - they do not report it. Therefore, at the clinic, once one of the staff had raised a question about the children, all of the staff members were at serious personal risk if they did not call the "social services" people. The ruse they then participated in order to snatch Matthew was, of course, highly unethical. It was after hours and the child services people needed time to get their act and paperwork together. Third, Matthew's need for child protection was, as far as I was able to determine, of little interest to these people. If we had been relatively poor and had not been visiting a famous man. I am sure that all six children would have been seized - and I would have been involved in a long fight to get them back. Even if successful, this fight would have devastated our work, since it would have been waged 3,000 miles from home.
At present. There are more than a million allegations of child abuse each year. 80% are dropped - but usually after the children have been seized and interrogated. About 200,000 children are currently incarcerated in locations away from their parents. Federal funding of this now stands at about $3 billion per year. This pays about $100,000 per child for the seizure and institutionalization of 30,000 children per year. States supply similar amounts of money. After the child has been processed and placed in a "foster home," Yearly tax-financed expenditures are less.