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Sept. 23, 2014

Isaiah Rider Home, but Not Home Free

Teen Isaiah Rider is back in Kansas City with family members after months in Chicago foster care. But the drama is not over.

Removed from his mother’s custody for “medical neglect,” Isaiah remains a ward of the state of Illinois.

“He was suffering,” Michelle recently told the Kansas City Star. “They could not control his pain, so we asked for a transfer to another hospital. We were asking for them to get appropriate help, and they were failing to do that.”

Instead, Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago called in Illinois’ child protection services, who removed Isaiah from his mother’s custody and placed him in foster care.

Isaiah has neurofibromitosis, a genetic condition that causes often painful tumors to grow on the nerves throughout his body. He has been dealing with medical problems related to his condition since he was 6.

After his most recent surgery, he had continual and on-going pain, which led to Michelle’s fateful decision. And that is when Lurie’s called on the state of Illinois to intervene.

Illinois took custody of Isaiah and placed him in foster care until last week, when he was returned to Kansas City, into the custody of his grandparents.

“I am very thankful that he’s home,” his grandmother Judy told the Kansas City Star. “However, the restrictions that they’ve been able to provide through Cook County Court limit (my daughter’s) visitation.” She is not allowed to see her son unless one of her own parents is present.

Michelle is on trial in Chicago to try to regain custody of her son. The case started on Friday (Sept. 19), and could stretch on for months. “It’s very frustrating,” Michelle said of the situation. “He’s 17 years old. This needs to stop.”

Almost a year and a half ago, we sent you a story of “Baby Sammy Home, but Not Home Free,” of a similar situation in California. And the Justina Pelletier case earlier this year followed a very similar pattern.

Under the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act in Illinois (75- ILCS 36), it would appear that the Illinois courts should not have jurisdiction in the Rider case. Illinois is not Isaiah’s home, and he has no “significant connection with th[e] State other than mere physical presence.” The act has been adopted by the District of Columbia and every State except Massachusetts, and according to this reading of it, a Missouri court would rightly exercise jurisdiction over the case of Isaiah’s custody.

The law, however, is very complex. Illinois is already exercising jurisdiction, and it is not the purpose of this article to refute the court’s decision to do so.

But even if the UCCJEA were applied, there is no guarantee Michelle would win. Once a judge decides to ignore the fundamental right of parents to make medical decisions for their child, there is no telling what standard the judge will be looking for before he will entrust that parent with her own child again.

This is one great reason the Parental Rights Amendment looks to preserve those rights in the first place. Fit and loving parents should not have to defend their decisions to a judge when they have not been abusive or negligent. )

And make no mistake. The accusation of “neglect” against Michelle arose because doctors disagreed with her decision, not because of any action she had taken before.

Action Items
1. If you’re on Facebook, “like” our page at to follow Isaiah’s and other stories through our Facebook page.

2. Join with your $5 monthly donation (or save $10 by making a $50 annual gift) at Your membership enables us to promote state statutes to fix over-reaches like the one in the Rider case, while also funding efforts to pass the Parental Rights Amendment – the ultimate solution to this problem.

In addition, we will send you not only the September Elite Membership packet on meal planning, but also the special introductory packet on Parental Rights in the Medical Setting. Perhaps its content can help you keep Isaiah’s nightmare from ever playing out in your family.

(And if you’ve signed up for our Membership Enlistment Contest, remember that it concludes next week on September 30.)

3. Help us find where your candidates stand on parental rights as we head toward Election Day. With enough help, this can be a quick and easy task that allows us to notify thousands of voters. See details in last week’s newsletter, available here.

With your help, we can make situations like Isaiah and Michelle Rider’s a thing of the past. But it will take all of us to preserve the “enduring American tradition” of parental rights.


Michael Ramey
Director of Communications & Research

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