JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A North Dakota family said coming to Jacksonville was the worst decision of their life after the Florida Department of Children and Families took custody of their three young children just days into their trip.
The family said their little girl was seriously sick, and doctors in North Dakota couldn't figure out what was wrong with her.
So they came to Jacksonville for the specialized care, but three days into her stay at Wolfson Children's Hospital, doctors there called DCF, suspecting abuse.
"She was always laughing and talking to you and cooing," said grandmother, Mary Rehm.
Rehm has dozens of pictures and videos of her two-month-old granddaughter Adrina.
She said since she was born in North Dakota, the baby has been sick and underweight.
So she convinced her son and daughter-in-law to bring Adrina to Wolfson for specialized care.
But just three days in to their stay, the Department of Children and Families took custody of Adrina and her older brother and sister.
DCF got a court order to take custody of all three children, but Rehm said she still thought she could visit them.
"We went up there. They called the police and had us removed. They wouldn't tell us if she was there, if she was in another hospital, if she was dead or alive, wouldn't tell us anything," she said.
Rehm got on the phone with Adrina's pediatrician and social services in North Dakota.
Both sent letters to DCF in Florida explaining there were no problems with Adrina's care, and they did not suspect any abuse.
Her pediatrician went so far as to defend Adrina's parents in her letter to DCF.
"These kids have been going crazy, they've never been away from their kids before, and I'm the one who talked them into coming down here. They came here to get medical attention for the baby, and the state takes them," she said.
In court papers given to the family, DCF investigators say Adrina was severely underweight and malnourished.
In a statement to First Coast News, DCF said "In cases where children need to be taken into care, there are serious concerns about their safety. If children are seriously neglected or malnourished, it would be necessary to place the child and siblings in protective custody. This case has been reviewed by the top level of child protective investigation services."
"These people, they kidnapped these children, for nothing," she said.
The parents of the young children have hired an attorney and plan to fight DCF to get their children back.
First Coast News