In April I reported about Sammy Nikolayev, the five month old son of Alex and Anna Nikolayev. Sammy is the first child of the young couple and he was born with a heart murmur. The parents took excellent care of Sammy and kept all of the necessary doctor appointments.
In April, Sammy developed flu-like symptoms so Anna took him to the doctors at Sutter Memorial Hospital where he had been seen regularly. On previous visits to Sutter, Anna says that some of the care had caused her concerns, such as the time a nurse came in and gave Sammy some antibiotics. When she asked the nurse what they were and what they were for, the nurse had no idea. Upon the doctor’s return to room, Anna found out from the doctor that Sammy should not have been given the antibiotics.
On the occasion in April, Sammy was admitted to the pediatric ICU because of his flu-like illness so they could monitor his heart. After a couple of days in the hospital, the doctors told Anna that they needed to do open heart surgery on Sammy right away. The news didn’t set well with Anna and being the responsible mother she is, she wanted a second opinion from another doctor at another hospital, so she took Sammy to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center to get a second opinion. While at the hospital, the police showed up and insisted on seeing Anna and Sammy. They told Anna that they had received a report from Sutter Memorial Hospital that Sammy’s health was in danger.
The doctor who saw Sammy at Kaiser said that he was safe to go home with his parents and that the baby was in no danger. After talking to Anna, seeing Sammy smiling and reading the doctor’s report, the police were satisfied and left.
The next day, police and Child Protective Services showed up at the Nikolayev house. They pushed Alex away as they entered the house without permission. One police officer told Anna that he was taking the baby and not to resist him. For reasons I’m not sure of, the couple had a hidden video camera recording the incident which caught the officer’s actions and words.
The young parents were frightened and horrified and immediately retained the services of an attorney. Anna was eventually allowed a one hour supervised visit with Sammy in the hospital. Alex and Anna said they came to the United States to escape a communist government, but feel that they are being treated the same way here in the US.
Once the news of what happened to the Nikolayev family and little Sammy, the public became outraged and launched a number of protests against the California CPS. Sammy was also returned to the custody of his parents, possibly due to the public outrage and in response to the legal action taken by his parents. The outrage was so great that a bipartisan vote of members of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee has initiated a statewide audit of the CPS.
Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks), initiated the move to audit the state’s Child Protective Services. Speaking at a rally for the Nikolayev family, Donnelly said:
"These agencies answer to us, to we the people, and when your name is Child Protective Services, you should be protecting children."
Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) also expressed his concern about how things like this could happen:
"The question is: How did this happen, why did this happen, and what can we do to make sure that it never happens again."
I know that Child Protective Services is supposed to watch out for the safety and welfare of all children and that for the most part they do a good job. However, we’ve all heard of too many instances where they have gone beyond their prescribed duties and have caused more harm than good to many families.
I worked with a gentleman some years ago that had twin sons. At about 7 months of age, one of them died of what doctors said was sudden infant death syndrome. He and his wife were devastated by the loss of their son. Several days later, he was charged by CPS with child cruelty that led to the death of his son. His other son was removed from the home and placed in foster care. The stress of the situation and doubts that crept in caused his wife to leave him. Eight months later, he was exonerated, but the damage was done and the family destroyed. What once was a very happy and pleasant co-worker was now a bitter and angry single man whose life had been destroyed because of some overzealous CPD worker that didn’t want to accept the doctor and coroner’s cause of death ruling.
I’m glad to see that Sammy Nikolayev was returned to his parents and that California CPS will be audited. Even though the audit could take six months or more, they know they are under a magnifying glass which should be enough to prevent them from repeating their abuse with another family. Hopefully, the audit will bring about necessary changes and save other family from going through what the Nikolayev family and my former co-worker have gone through.