After five days of forced and illegal separation from their four-year-old son Drake, Ashley and Daniel Pardo were given the chance to meet with him briefly during a visit on Tuesday. Drake, a medically fragile, special-needs child, was elated to see his parents and asked repeatedly if he was allowed to go home with them. His parents were forced to explain to him that this would not be possible.
In a heartbreaking display, Drake spent about 15 minutes of the visit with his parents reenacting the moment when CPS removed him from his home, asking his parents to pretend to knock on the door and scare him when it opened. Drake periodically switched roles and pretended to knock on the door and scare his parents.
Krista McIntire, director of Family Rights Advocacy, was also present during the visit to support the family.
Drake was illegally snatched from his family by CPS during a surprise visit on Thursday, June 20. The Pardo family, homeschooling members of THSC, currently are represented by THSC attorneys Chris Branson and Julie Jacobson.
The June 20 removal was illegal because CPS:
- Refused to state the accusations against the family for nearly two weeks.
- Falsely claimed that there was an immediate danger to Drake in order to get an emergency removal, despite CPS having already delayed for two weeks.
- Failed to make any reasonable efforts to avoid the need for removal, such as conducting interviews with the family or offering alternatives to removing Drake.
In a video of the removal released Monday, the family repeatedly tried to comfort Drake as he was taken from their home by CPS. The Pardos’ two other children have since expressed fear of strangers coming to the home and have questioned why their brother was taken.
Last week, I made a personal phone call to CPS Associate Commissioner Kristene Blackstone, whom THSC has previously worked with on policy changes inside CPS. She expressed surprise that no interviews were conducted with the family in the two weeks leading up to the “emergency” removal of Drake and promised to look into the matter.
CPS made a horrific mistake when it illegally removed Drake from his home. Children can suffer decades of trauma from such events and sometimes struggle with the trauma for their entire life. It is yet to be determined whether CPS will correct its mistake and return Drake home or dig in and attempt to save face.
In response to this outrageous tragedy, THSC has launched a campaign to raise $50,000 to #BringDrakeHome.