A Black Texas couple chose their midwife’s care over a hospital. Now their newborn is in foster care. (2023)

Candice Norwood

Breaking News Reporter


Your trusted source for contextualizing the news. Sign up for our daily newsletter.

A custody case currently unfolding in Texas has separated a newborn from her parents and highlighted two systemic realities in the United States: the policing of Black families by child welfare systems and the disregard of midwifery expertise by many doctors.

(Video) What led CPS to take a newborn girl away from her Texas parents?

It has been 20 days since infant Mila Jackson was taken from her parents by Child Protective Services in Texas after they sought guidance from their licensed midwife to treat a common infant condition rather than following a directive from their pediatrician. Now a court will decide if she’ll be returned to their custody.

The 19th thanks our sponsors. Become one.

“We’ve gone from being treated like criminals, to treated like unfit parents to feeling like we’re being hunted,” Rodney Jackson, Mila’s father, told The 19th. “It’s super disturbing when you’re talking about two people fighting a big system. Nobody should feel like that.”

On March 21, Temecia Jackson gave birth to 6-pound, 9-ounce Mila at the couple’s Dallas-area home under her midwife’s care. Temecia told The 19th that she decided to work with a midwife and team of doulas during her pregnancy and home birth because of two difficult C-sections she endured while delivering her two sons years prior.

Three days after Mila’s birth, the Jacksons visited their longtime pediatrician’s office for a routine checkup, where she was diagnosed with jaundice, a common condition in the blood that affects about 60 percent of newborns.

The pediatrician contacted the couple by phone to discuss treatment options for the jaundice. Temecia told The 19th that the doctor said Mila could be treated in a hospital or at home using a list of criteria he outlined. On the phone with him, she expressed her intention to work with the midwife to begin the at-home treatments.

  • More from The 19th

  • From wildfires to hurricanes, midwives could play a key role in disaster response
  • Doulas and midwives are crucial in addressing postpartum depression for Black people. Many can’t afford one.
  • ‘The Nursery’ calls attention to the intensity and loneliness of postpartum life

As the day progressed, however, the doctor’s tone changed, Temecia said. The pediatrician contacted the family at least 10 times through phone calls, texts and voicemails, growing more insistent that the couple take Mila to the hospital. Within 24 hours of Mila’s jaundice diagnosis, he contacted the Department of Family and Protective Services, according to an affidavit filed with the court. The petition for Mila’s removal also included the wrong parents’ names. On Tuesday, March 28, authorities took Mila from her home. A virtual hearing was initially scheduled for Thursday, April 6, to determine whether Mila would be returned to her parents, but the judge postponed it until April 20.

The Jacksons’ story has gained local and national media attention and ignited public outcry through the support of the Afiya Center, a Dallas-based reproductive justice group, and Next Generation Action Network, a local civil rights organization. The case has also called attention to the disparate treatment of Black families by the medical and child welfare systems.

“The very system that is designed to heal us is the very system that is destroying us,” Cheryl Edinbyrd, the Jacksons’ certified professional midwife, told reporters in a news conference earlier this month. “Something has to happen. It has to stop, the attack on families — Black families — the attack on Black midwifery, the attack on Black bodies … has to stop.”

In a letter written to CPS, the pediatrician expressed concern that Mila had a bilirubin level of 21.7, when the healthy range of bilirubin in a newborn’s blood is under 20. “At a bilirubin over 20, a baby risks brain damage because the bilirubin can cross the blood brain barrier,” the pediatrician wrote in the letter. “The treatment is simple in the hospital to give phototherapy and hydration to bring this down.”

The 19th reached out to the doctor’s office for further comment. They declined due to privacy concerns.

The doctor’s letter noted that the parents said they would address treatment at home guided by their midwife, but he feared their approach “may not work fast enough.” Temecia said the doctor grew increasingly skeptical of their midwife’s ability to provide adequate care. But the midwife told reporters she did a video call with Temecia and noticed Mila’s jaundice clearing up. Edinbyrd also did assessments of the baby’s stool that indicated the bilirubin was leaving her system.

Ultimately, four days after Mila’s jaundice diagnosis, CPS removed the baby from her home, took her to the hospital for treatment a week later on April 4 and then placed her with a foster family, according to the Afiya Center. The Jacksons were granted one two-hour visit each week.

The Jacksons’ exchange with their pediatrician highlights some of the misunderstandings about midwives’ qualifications, Audrey Luck, a licensed midwife in Florida, told The 19th. Midwifery practices in the United States were popular within Indigenous and immigrant communities, as well as among Black women in the South known as “granny midwives,” who took care of other Black women and poor White women.

(Video) Texas couple fights for return of baby taken after at-home birth

When health care in the United States became more medicalized and standardized in the mid- to late 1800s, physicians who were predominantly White men actively criticized granny midwives in medical journals.

A 1916 newspaper article in New Orleans cited a report from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners that described midwives as “dirty, ignorant, and totally unfit to discharge the duties which she assumes.”

“The midwife must be abolished,” the report stated, “it is useless to attempt a comparison of a midwife with a medical man.”

Childbirth shifted from homes to hospitals almost exclusively. In the 1960s and ’70s, midwifery began to make a resurgence alongside the women’s movement and demands for more body autonomy. This time, however, the recipients of midwifery care were mostly middle class White women, and the majority of midwives were also White women.

More recently, a growing number of Black mothers and people who give birth are working with midwives and doulas in response to the documented bias and racism they experience in the standardized medical industry.

Temecia said that in her case, she noticed a huge difference in the care she received during her pregnancy and delivery with Mila using a midwife, versus her pregnancy and childbirth with her two sons in hospitals.

“I had a team of doulas who were texting my phone making sure I’m eating properly, checking in on my mental health, checking in on how I’m doing physically, all through my prenatal,” Temecia said. “Then during the birth, I was at home and comfortable. … It was a beautiful experience.”

Even with the shift to more midwifery care in the United States, midwives participate in fewer than 10 percent of childbirths in this country; however, midwives in other wealthy countries like Australia, Sweden and Norway oversee a majority of births. These countries also have much lower maternal mortality rates.

Tension between physicians and midwives remains in the United States, Luck said, though collaborative care between the two is important for maternal health outcomes. Health conditions among babies born at home present differently than those in babies born in hospitals, she added. Physiological jaundice, the type that baby Mila was diagnosed with, is much more common in babies born outside of hospitals because these newborns tend to receive more breast milk than formula.

“It can be alarming for pediatricians who see a baby born outside of the hospital with elevated levels that differ from the majority of their clients born in hospitals,” Luck said. “It freaks them out because they’re like, ‘I don’t know if the baby had the proper assessment,’ due to the lack of knowledge about what midwives have the ability to do.”


Temecia said she could sense some discomfort about her home birth during Mila’s check up at the pediatrician’s office. In her follow-up communication with the pediatrician about Mila’s jaundice, Temecia also felt the doctor did not have a good understanding of midwifery care.

In the Jackson family’s case, the pediatrician’s concerns about the quality of midwifery care collided with the child welfare system, another institution that has an embattled relationship with Black mothers and families.

A Black Texas couple chose their midwife’s care over a hospital. Now their newborn is in foster care. (3)

The Social Security Act of 1935 provided the first federal grants for child welfare services, but states have their own individual policies for how they address allegations of abuse or neglect. The majority of states classify certain groups of professionals who are required by law to report suspected child neglect or abuse. These mandatory reporters include physicians, teachers and social workers.

Diane Sumoski, a professor with the SMU Dedman School of Law focused on child advocacy, noted that she does not know all the specifics of the Jacksons’ case, but said that in general, if a doctor feels a child is in danger or is being medically neglected, they have an obligation to report to CPS.

But what someone perceives to be danger or neglect could be influenced by bias, said Darcey Merritt, a professor at the University of Chicago who researches racial and economic bias in the child welfare system.

Speaking generally about her research and not about the Jackson family, Merritt said that in many cases “we’ve got the state coming in, telling poor Black and Brown families, ‘You are not raising your children right,’ But the reason they’re not raising their children to the expectations of the state is often because they are in poverty. They have not had the opportunity with education. They might be under- or unemployed. They might have some housing challenges.”

The racial and economic factors at the heart of the child welfare system can have far-reaching consequences. A 2021 study from researchers at Rutgers University and Duke University found that Black children in the country’s 20 most-populous counties saw consistently more contact with child protective services.

In Texas’ largest counties, the Dallas Morning News reported based on this data that about half of all Black children are investigated by CPS by the age of 18.

When a child is separated from their family, it can wreak havoc on the mental health of everyone involved. But the surveillance alone is also traumatizing, Merritt said.

When it comes to Mila, Temecia told The 19th that it’s difficult to know whether bias played a role in her story, but she’s “not blind to what Black families and Black mothers are experiencing.”

(Video) Pediatrician Reports Black Couple To CPS, Newborn Seized By Authorities | Holding Court

The toll this experience has taken is hard to describe, she said. Her stress is compounded by uncertainty about Mila’s current health, multiple attempts to reach out to CPS for updates, the need to pump breast milk to drop off at the foster care facility — all while she works to recover from giving birth four weeks ago, Temecia said.

“My husband and I did extensive research to find a midwife. Everything went as it was supposed to,” she said. “Then to turn around and have to deal with this really puts a damper on what wassuch a beautiful experience.”


A Black Texas couple chose their midwife’s care over a hospital. Now their newborn is in foster care.? ›

A Black Texas couple chose their midwife's care over a hospital. Now their newborn is in foster care. The case of Mila Jackson highlights the disregard of midwives' expertise and the disproportionate impact of child welfare systems on Black families. Your trusted source for contextualizing the news.

What Texas couple says CPS kidnapped their newborn? ›

Over two weeks ago, Meci and Rodney Jackson's newborn baby, Mila, was taken away from their home against the couple's will by CPS and Dallas County Constables. Rodney and Temecia “Meci” Jackson have seen their newborn daughter three times since the state, in their words, “kidnapped” the seven-day-old.

Who was the Texas couple who had a home birth? ›

Texas parents Temecia and Rodney Jackson have alleged that after they had a home birth and chose to treat their days-old child at home for jaundice, their pediatrician reported them to authorities, setting off a chain of events that led to Rodney Jackson's brief arrest and the infant being placed in foster care.

Who was the newborn taken from parents in Texas? ›

Mila Jackson, the newborn taken into foster care by Texas officials in late March, will return home ahead of a scheduled hearing that was set for Thursday afternoon. Mila was taken into the custody of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services on March 30.

Which Dallas couple child was taken by CPS? ›

Rodney and Temecia Jackson of DeSoto, Texas, regained custody of their daughter, Mila, on April 20 following a nearly month-long battle with the state's Child Protective Services, according to The Afiya Center, a reproductive justice advocacy group.

Did the black couple says Texas authorities seized their newborn? ›

Black couple say Texas authorities took away their baby just because they had a home birth. "Instantly, I felt like they had stolen my baby," the mom said. A Black couple living in Dallas say their 2-week-old daughter was taken from them because they decided to have a home birth with a midwife.

What happens to babies born in jail in Texas? ›

Most prisons require incarcerated women to choose a caregiver for their child, especially if the mother doesn't want to place their child in foster care or to go through the adoption process. The caregiver can be the pregnant inmate's spouse, grandparents and any other close relatives.

Who is the oldest person to give birth in Texas? ›

ROUND ROCK, Texas, July 16 (UPI) -- A 59-year-old woman has become the oldest known new mother in Texas after giving birth to a 5-pound, 11-ounce son.

Who is the nurse was filmed helping a homeless woman deliver her baby on a street in Makati Philippines? ›

The nurse assisted the first responders as the woman who was lying on a carton box along the busy Osmeña Highway gave birth as shown in the photos and a video shared on Facebook Tuesday by the Bangkal Fire Emergency Rescue Disaster Support (FERDS) Makati.

Did Teresa Palmer give birth? ›

How many Butterbox babies were found? ›

It is estimated that between four and six hundred babies died at the home, while at least another thousand survived and were adopted. Even these lucky survivors often suffered from ailments caused by the unsanitary conditions and lack of care at the home.

What happens to abandoned babies in the US? ›

When an abandoned baby is found alive, it is usually placed into foster care until a permanent placement can be found. There are no longer orphanages in the U.S., having long since been replaced by state foster care departments and private infant adoption agencies.

Who was the first white child born in Texas? ›

Helena Berryman lived until March 13, 1888. She was buried in the family cemetery at Forest Hill. A historical marker erected in 1969 notes her enduring claim to fame, "First Anglo child born in Texas."

Who is in charge of CPS in Texas? ›

OfficeOffice HolderPhone / Fax
CommissionerStephanie B. Muth(512) 438-4800

Is Baby Mila home? ›

Baby Mila is back home with North Texas family after CPS dispute.

Who are the parents of Mila Jackson? ›

But the story of Mila Jackson has a happy ending. At an emotional news conference on April 6, Mila's parents, Rodney and Temica Jackson, talked about their successful home birth.

Do you have to pay to hold your baby after birth in Texas? ›

There is never a charge for a patient to hold their baby. We do everything possible to allow all mothers skin-to-skin contact with their newborns immediately after delivery. Only in the case of a C-section birth is an additional nurse brought into the operating room.

What happens if my baby daddy goes to jail? ›

Parent of a Minor Child

For the incarcerated parent, the courts may terminate his or her rights to custody because of the conviction and prison or jail term. Then, the courts may place the youth with another person in the family or the other parent if he or she is alive and morally fit to take custody.

Can you leave your baby at the hospital in Texas? ›

Information for Parents

You may take your baby to any hospital, fire station, or emergency medical services (EMS) station in Texas. You need to give your baby to an employee who works at one of these safe places and tell this person that you want to leave your baby at a Safe Haven.

How old was the oldest woman to get pregnant? ›

The oldest recorded mother to date to conceive was 73 years, while the youngest mother was 5 years old. According to statistics from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, in the UK more than 20 babies are born to women over age 50 per year through in-vitro fertilization with the use of donor oocytes (eggs).

What is the oldest age to get pregnant naturally? ›

A woman's peak reproductive years are between the late teens and late 20s. By age 30, fertility (the ability to get pregnant) starts to decline. This decline happens faster once you reach your mid-30s. By 45, fertility has declined so much that getting pregnant naturally is unlikely.

How old is the oldest woman in the US to have a baby? ›

According to the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, "very few" women older than 44 are still fertile. By the time they reach menopause — age 51, on average, in the US — they can no longer conceive naturally. The oldest mother verified by Guinness Records to deliver a child after conceiving naturally was 59.

Who was the nurse that got a patient pregnant in a nursing home? ›

PHOENIX — Nathan Sutherland, the former nurse who sexually assaulted and impregnated an incapacitated patient at Hacienda Healthcare, was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison. Sutherland pleaded guilty earlier this year to assaulting a woman who later gave birth to his child in 2018.

Who was the lady that tried to steal baby from hospital? ›

Almost 35 years ago, she let a stranger hold her newborn. It has haunted her ever since. In 2017, police arrested 51-year-old Gloria Williams in South Carolina for kidnapping an infant in Florida in 1998 and raising her as her own for 18 years.

Who is the nurse that posted about baby with intestines on outside? ›

Sierra Samuels, who was a nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, shared photos of a newborn with a birth defect that causes the baby's intestines to protrude from the body. A nurse in Florida has been fired after posting photos of a baby born with a birth defect on social media, according to hospital officials.

What is the most babies born to one woman modern? ›

Ms Ofelia Llanes Gaxiola, of Culiacán, Sinaloa. the wife of a postman, gave birth to her 21 children.

Who delivered the most babies ever? ›

The Guinness World Records for most children delivered at a single birth to survive is currently held by Nadya Suleman, who gave birth to six boys and two girls in California, US, in 2009. Last month, a 25-year-old Malian woman had given birth to nine babies, two more than doctors had detected during medical scans.

Who has the most babies in one delivery? ›

Woman births 9 babies in a single delivery

The Guinness World Records recently posted a record about a mother who gave birth to nonuplets—five girls and four boys—in their latest post. The post featured a video that showed the nine toddlers with their parents.

What is the true story about the Butterbox babies? ›

Infants who were sick, deformed or disabled, or of mixed race were fed molasses and water until they starved to death. A caretaker years later admitted to Canadian journalist Bette Cahill that he was paid to bury the babies in open graves, or in butter boxes from the local LaHave Dairy.

What horror movie is based on Butterbox Babies? ›

Inspired by the true story of the infamous 'Butterbox Babies', THE CHILD REMAINS is a twisting supernatural thriller and homage to slow-burn vintage horror like The Shining, Rosemary's Baby and Session 9.

What is the true story behind the child remains? ›

In the 1930s and 1940s, in East Chester, N.S., an unlicensed residence for unwed mothers called the Ideal Maternity Home "sold" babies to outside families. There was a lot of abuse that went on and many newborns died. They were called "butterbox babies" for the makeshift wooden coffins they were placed into.

Can I keep a baby I found? ›

Abandoned Babies

Finding a baby is even more serious. If you do find a baby, call the authorities right away. The state's Department of Family and Child Services will likely take custody of the baby and try to find any relatives. If none are found, you can then try to apply to be a foster parent or to adopt the child.

What is the maximum age for a man to have a baby? ›

There's no maximum age that stops a man from being able to have a baby. You can become a father long into your older years, but there are risks.

How many babies are left in dumpsters every year? ›

Every year infants are illegally abandoned in the U.S. In 2021, 31 babies were placed in dumpsters, found in backpacks, or discarded in other dangerous locations. 22 of these infants were found deceased.

Who was the first child born in the Bible? ›

Christianity applies the concept of firstborn to Jesus of Nazareth as "firstborn from the dead", and adopts the Septuagint terminology prototokoi (plural) to describe the church as "firstborns." Muslim scholars traditionally consider Ishmael as the firstborn of Abraham mentioned in Qur'an 37.103.

Who was the first child born in the world? ›

His birth occurs in Genesis 4:1: 'Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, 'With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man. ' Cain's name means 'brought forth'.

Who was the first born child in America? ›

Photo: Baptism of Virginia Dare. Credit: National Geographic. Virginia Dare was born on August 18, 1587, and was the first English child born in the New World. Dare's parents were part of Sir Walter Raleigh's expedition to explore and settle land in North America on behalf of the English crown.

Can CPS tell you who reported you in Texas? ›

The reason that CPS would begin an investigation into your family is that someone has made a report to CPS that he or she believes that your child has been abused or neglected. It is unlikely that you will know exactly who made the report.

Why would CPS take a child in Texas? ›

A CPS caseworker and supervisor would need to get together to determine that your child is in immediate danger and needs to be removed from your home. This immediate danger would mean that it is more likely than not that your child will suffer physical or sexual abuse if allowed to remain in your home.

How many children are in CPS care in Texas? ›

The numbers are on par with those reported in previous years. Twenty-two children have died in the first three months of this year, or about half the number of deaths in each of the previous five years. The state cared for 45,870 children in 2021.

What famous baby kidnapping case? ›

Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., 20-month-old son of the famous aviator and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was kidnapped about 9:00 p.m., on March 1, 1932, from the nursery on the second floor of the Lindbergh home near Hopewell, New Jersey.

Does Texas have parental kidnapping laws? ›

Under Texas Penal Code §25.03(d), parental kidnapping is a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Texas courts take parental kidnapping charges very seriously.

What is the podcast about CPS in Texas? ›

Do No Harm” traces the intersecting paths of two families — the Brights and the Butlers — as they confront a legal and medical system that's so committed to protecting vulnerable children from abuse that it sometimes destroys the lives of innocent parents.

What is the penalty for lying to CPS in Texas? ›

Under Texas Family Code § 261.107, making a false report of child abuse with the intent to deceive is a state jail felony. The charge is elevated to a third-degree felony if the individual has previously been convicted for making false child abuse reports.

What is the biggest missing child case? ›

Disappearance of Etan Patz
Etan Patz
DisappearedMay 25, 1979 (aged 6) New York City, U.S.
StatusMissing for 43 years, 11 months and 17 days; declared dead in absentia on June 19, 2001 (aged 28)
Diedc. May 25, 1979 (aged 6)
Cause of deathMurder by strangulation (presumed)
5 more rows

What is the oldest missing child case? ›

Her disappearance was heavily covered by both local and national media, but her whereabouts have never been ascertained.
Disappearance of Marjorie West.
Marjorie West
DisappearedMay 8, 1938 (4 years old) McKean County, Pennsylvania
StatusMissing for 85 years and 4 days
4 more rows

What is the longest kidnapping case ever solved? ›

1. Paul Joseph Fronczak (Solved!): Paul Joseph Fronczak was kidnapped as a day-old baby out of a Chicago hospital in 1964. However, this was a case that ended with good news: he was found two years later in a stroller and returned to his parents, according to CNN. At least, it seemed that way for more than 40 years.

Can a mother legally keep her child away from the father in Texas? ›

If one parent keeps a child away from the other parent when there is not a court order, there is no way to force visitation to happen. Without a court order, neither parent can file an enforcement action. An enforcement action cannot be used to enforce an informal agreement between the parents.

Can a mother lose custody of her child in Texas? ›

In Texas, it is possible for parents to lose custody of their children in specific circumstances. They may include child abuse, child neglect, and chronic substance abuse or mental health issues on the part of the parent.

Can a child refuse to see a parent in Texas? ›

In Texas, there is no age under 18 that allows for a child to refuse visitation. Visitation is the right of the parent, and it cannot be taken away by the custodial parent or child. The only option would be for the custodial parent to request a modification of orders.

Can you refuse to talk to CPS in Texas? ›

No, you do NOT have to talk to CPS, nor should you, without talking to a CPS attorney first. Anything you say can be used against you in child custody court, divorce court, by CPS, and in criminal court.

Can you find out who reported you to CPS Texas? ›

It is unlikely that you will know exactly who made the report. Family members, neighbors, doctors, teachers, and even friends can make reports to CPS and remain anonymous. At this stage, it is not worth your time stewing over the report and trying to figure out who made the call to CPS.

What happens if you ignore CPS Texas? ›

If you choose to ignore CPS, it's possible that the agency could seek a court order to remove your child from your home. In this scenario, CPS must demonstrate to a judge that leaving your child in your home would be dangerous to their physical or mental well-being.

Can a judge overrule CPS in Texas? ›

Ultimately, the judge has greater authority to control a CPS lawsuit involving an allegation of abuse or neglect to a child. However, the judge's authority is limited to only address requests and evidence that are present to the Court, so many decisions get made by CPS without the judge even knowing about it.

Can I sue CPS for emotional distress in Texas? ›

CPS investigations can be traumatic and stressful for both parents and children. However, emotional distress alone does not give you the right to sue CPS. Since CPS social workers are government agents, they cannot act in ways that violate your established civil rights.

Can CPS spy on you in Texas? ›

Certain information relative to your life is confidential, which means that CPS cannot get its hands on it unless you provide them with your consent to do so.


1. Abortion. (documentary)
(The LaBrant Fam)
2. Wheel of Fortune Player Was Acting Strangely With Her Letter Pick, Then Pat Sajak Realize Why
(Facts Verse)
3. Importance of Attentive Birth + Postpartum Care to Prevent Maternal Mortality with Shawnee B. Gibson
(Sacred Birth Circle | Beyond the Pregnancy Guide)
4. The Age of Roe: Voices from the Front Lines
(Harvard Radcliffe Institute)
5. Black Midwives & Doulas Take on the Black Maternal Health Crisis
(Metropolitan College of New York)
6. Doulas Are So Much More
(Wayside Recovery Center)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Terrell Hackett

Last Updated: 22/08/2023

Views: 6394

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Terrell Hackett

Birthday: 1992-03-17

Address: Suite 453 459 Gibson Squares, East Adriane, AK 71925-5692

Phone: +21811810803470

Job: Chief Representative

Hobby: Board games, Rock climbing, Ghost hunting, Origami, Kabaddi, Mushroom hunting, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Terrell Hackett, I am a gleaming, brainy, courageous, helpful, healthy, cooperative, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.