A father mistakenly gives his son alcoholic lemonade at a baseball game and authorities quickly send the boy to foster care.
Christopher Ratte, a Michigan father of two, never expected a day at the ballpark would land his son Leo in protective custody. Momlogic spoke with Leo's Mom, Claire Zimmerman, who shares how her family's lives were turned upside down by an honest mistake.
Momlogic: What happened?
Claire: My husband, Christopher, took our 7-year-old son, Leo, to the zoo and a baseball game. The concession stand at the ballpark served only beer and lemonade. Christopher bought a beer for himself and bought a Mike's Hard Lemonade for Leo. Both of them went up to the counter and the man handed the beer to Christopher and the lemonade to Leo.
They didn't try to card our son or anything, so my husband didn't think anything of it. Christopher even checked the ingredients, and it had water, sugar, and hard lemonade. He thought it was like a PowerAde or something. My husband is a classical archeologist who digs up old things in Turkey. He didn't know what Mike's Hard Lemonade was.
Momlogic: What happened next?
Christopher called me that night and said I should come to Detroit to pick up Leo. He told me he mistakenly gave Leo lemonade that was alcoholic, and had been stopped by a security guard. The police put Leo and Christopher in an ambulance and took them to the emergency room to have Leo's blood alcohol level tested.
When I arrived at the hospital, we learned the authorities executed a police order to have Leo removed from our care. Even though he had no alcohol in his system, Child Protective Services was still coming to take him away from us. They took Leo to CPS and put him into a holding room while we were forced to wait in a hotel. The next day, they placed him in foster care. We had no idea where he was. We were desperate and it was an indescribable nightmare.
Momlogic: What did you do then?
The Legal Advocacy Clinic helped us get a preliminary hearing Monday. Leo was released to my care on the condition that Christopher moved out of the house until the full hearing. He moved to a hotel and I took Leo home. The hearing was Thursday, and thankfully the case was dismissed.
Momâ€˘Logic: As a Mother, how did this experience make you feel?
Claire: My rights as a mother were clearly violated in a serious way. My son was taken away from me. I had spent the day as a good American woman. At the end of the day, my son was taken out of my hands and I had done absolutely nothing to merit this kind of treatment. It's a violation of my rights as a mother. We were guilty and then proven innocent, not the other way around.