After more than a year of separation, a Massachusetts judge ruled this week that 16-year-old Justina Pelletier will be reunited with her family Wednesday.
The teen was stripped from her family when officials disagreed with her parents’ medical decisions, despite the fact that they were simply following the guidelines of her physicians. Tuesday’s decision is a sharp contrast to the judge’s ruling earlier this year, in which he granted permanent custody of Justina to the state’s Department of Children and Families.
In his ruling, he determined that “circumstances have changed” and that “custody of Justina is returned to her parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier.”
Family attorney Philip Moran issued a statement celebrating the development.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to see that this little girl will be able to go home. She will be home with her parents, sisters, pets and friends. Hopefully we’ll see major progress because this is what she really needs.”
Events have been leading toward this conclusion in recent weeks. In May, state officials decided to relocate Justina to a facility in her home state of Connecticut. Unfortunately for the family, however, that location was about the same distance away from them as the Massachusetts facility from which she was being relocated.
Justina was able to visit her parents for Father’s Day recently and during a temporary trip to her home the previous week. Prior to these respites, visitation was limited to one hour per week under strict supervision.
According to messages she was able to smuggle to her parents, Justina was being deprived of basic needs including educational and religious resources.
Though Suffolk County Juvenile Court Judge Joseph Johnston was set to hand down the next ruling in the case Friday, the good news came a few days early for the Pelletier family.