A Father's Story: Justina Pelletier's Dad Meeting with Mass. Legislators

The West Hartford man will share his story about the ongoing effort to get his 15-year-old daughter back from the Department of Children and Families.

Justina Pelletier, 15, with her parents. Credit: Patch File Photo
Justina Pelletier, 15, with her parents. Credit: Patch File Photo

The Pelletier's battle to have their 15-year-old daughter released from the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) will take center state at the State House in Boston on Thursday.

Lou Pelletier, father of Justina Pelletier, will speak to legislators at 3:30 p.m. His visit was arranged by state Reps. James Lyons (R-Andover) and Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica) — two Massachusetts legislators who are circulating a resolution asking the DCF to start the process of releasing Justina to her parents.

"I look forward to hearing from Mr. Pelletier as he shares his experiences with DCF,"  Lombardo said. "I hope the Pelletiers can welcome Justina home in short order."

Justina, who has been diagnosed and treated by Tufts Medical Center doctors for mitochondrial disorder, a rare genetic disease, was sent to Boston Children’s Hospital for a bout with the flu in February 2013.

Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital reportedly disagreed with the diagnosis and instead diagnosed Pelletier with somatoform disorder, a mental illness characterized by pain and gastrointestinal symptoms that have no identifiable physical cause.

The Massachusetts DCF then took custody of Justina when the Pelletiers disagreed with the treatment. That was a year ago.

"In my opinion, the decision on which medical treatment to adopt should rest with the parents, not with DCF. The Department's heavy-handed, unjustified interference with the rights of these parents is an example of what is wrong with this agency," Lyons said in a press release, according to MyFoxBoston.com.

The controversial case, which has garnered national attention, is scheduled for a hearing on March 17. The judge has reportedly expressed an openness to returning Justina to her parents, and the DCF is apparently actively working toward that same result.

"I am very happy to see that progress appears to be taking place in the Justina Pelletier case and I look forward to the day when she will be reunited with her family," Lyons said.


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