HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Concerns are being raised after scrutiny continues into the lives of a homeschooling family whose children were taken from them earlier this year by the Garland Country Sheriff’s Department—which friends of the family now state has scared away the midwife who was to have helped with the soon-coming birth of their ninth child.
As previously reported, seven of the eight children of Hal Stanley and his wife Michelle were removed from their Hot Springs home on Jan. 12 following an anonymous complaint. The eldest child does not live at home since she is grown.
The situation began in December as a social worker with the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) showed up at the Stanley’s door after receiving a complaint that the children were permitted to go outside in the snow barefoot. The Stanleys assured the case worker that everything was fine, and that the children had plenty of shoes, but had a custom of making footprints in the snow for fun.
“We showed her some of the 200 and something pair of shoes and told her—actually the kids told her—how it was their preference to go barefoot and that it was like a tradition to briefly run out in the snow barefoot and take a picture of the footprints,” Michelle Stanley told reporters.
However, authorities then received a second complaint claiming that the couple had a “poisonous substance” in their home, and so on Jan. 12, both DHS and members of the Garland County Sheriff’s Department appeared at their door. According to the family, officials forced the parents to step outside, at which time they were served with a search warrant.
“[They] said we could not enter our house or talk to our kids until the search and the investigation was through,” Stanley said. “They said the charge was that we had a poisonous substance in our house and that the kids were being exposed to it and it endangered their welfare.”
It turned out that the substance that was being referred to was MMS (“miracle mineral supplement”) or sodium chlorite, which is used to purify water and is claimed to help to cure diseases. The Stanleys state that the product was used to balance the PH of their fish tank, but that her husband had also been drinking it to help make his system more alkaline.
Five hours later, after the search concluded—along with an interrogation of the children, officials informed the Stanleys that all seven of their children were being taken into custody.
“Six intimidating, brute looking males and one DHS female all lined up in our den to tell us they would be taking our kids into their custody for 72 hours,” Stanley recalled.
But after a week later, the couple’s children still were not returned and were placed in public school—and did not come home until March, and even then on a trial basis. Arkansas DHS has not yet provided an exact reason as to why the children were seized.
“It could mean that the home is unfit. It could mean that the environment is not a good environment, that there’s dirt everywhere; it could mean that,” Public Information Coordinator Kate Luck told KATV earlier this year. “It could also mean the children cannot safely remain there. It may be that the parents have done something to make the environment unsafe. It could mean that the children did something…”
Now, friends of the family are concerned as officials continue to scrutinize the family.
“They have state ‘agents’ showing up at their house every day unannounced who stay for hours and ‘observe’ and seek to ‘counsel,'” outlines the “Bring the Stanley Kids Home” Facebook page, managed by a friend simply identified as Kristy.
Hal Stanley also notes that during a hearing last month, it was ruled that the three eldest children must remain in public school, and that a psychologist must visit the home 20 hours a week for the next 6-12 weeks “to promote harmony in the family.”
As Michelle Stanley is almost 9 months pregnant, a recent update additionally states that the midwife the Stanleys had sought to use was questioned by police, which frightened her away.
“[T]he midwife they had planned to use for a home birth next month was interrogated and intimidated by police and ‘warned’ to stay away from the Stanleys, which means Mrs. Stanley is [just a few] weeks from her due date with no midwife,” Kristy explained.
“She feels threatened and her counsel has advised her to stay away,” she continued. “The sheriffs department has searched every angle of the Stanley’s personal life to find some criminal wrong doing to be able to charge them with something and are still searching.”
The Stanleys are hoping to have another midwife in place so that they can give birth at home as they wish—but their concerns do not end there.
“[T]here have been hints that the newborn will be taken away if ‘things are not in order,'” Kristy explained. “This poor mother has endured enough heartache over these last few months. How much more tyranny can we dump on her? Where are the midwives who will come to help her?”