It’s been a long battle for the Pelletier family, but after 16 months in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, Justina Pelletier is finally going home — and her family couldn’t be happier.
The 16-year-old is, of course, particularly elated at the news. Her gratitude can be seen in her video posted to the ”A Miracle for Justina” Facebook page, on Tuesday evening.
“I’m so excited to be home tomorrow. I can’t wait,” said the teen in the video. “Thank you for everyone for letting me go home. I’m so excited. I can’t believe it’s happened.”
Juvenile court Judge Joseph Johnston made his decision Tuesday. He wrote in his ruling that, as of Wednesday, “custody of Justina is returned to her parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier.”
“I find that the parties have shown by credible evidence that circumstances have changed since the adjudication on Dec. 20, 2013,” Johnston wrote, according to the Boston Globe.
The dispute began when Justina’s parents brought her to Boston Children’s Hospital while she was experiencing significant health problems. She had been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease – a disease that affects the function of the cell’s mitochondria – by a doctor at Tufts Medical Center. She had been receiving treatment there. Once she arrived at Boston Children’s Hospital, however, the Pelletiers say they were told by doctors that their daughter, instead, had a somatoform disorder, a psychiatric disorder. The Pelletiers were accused of medical child abuse when they disagreed with the treatment plan proposed by the doctors and attempted to discharge her from their care. As a result, the parents lost custody of their daughter to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.
Nearly a year later, Justina was relocated to her home state of Connecticut to reside in the JRI Susan Wayne Center for Excellence in Thompson. Although the distance remained nearly the same, the reunification plan established by the DCF helped to change the tone of the case.
Last month, her parents threw a surprise party for her 16th birthday, attended by her family and friends. The increased visits also helped to renew the spirits of the Pelletier family.
Justina returned to her home in West Hartford, Connecticut, Wednesday, amidst cheers of joy from the family.
“I’m just so grateful that today has finally come,” Linda Pelletier, Justina’s mother said.
“They had to endure this general sense from the public that they weren’t loving, careful parents,” said Rev. Patrick Mahoney of Liberty Counsel, which represented the Pelletiers in court. “This is a loving family who waited for this day … If anyone had any doubts, today is vindication. The most important thing is Justina is getting well, but the family has been totally vindicated today.”