7 Children Kidnapped by the State from Homeschooling Family to Remain in Custody*
By Terri LaPoint
It will be at least “6 more weeks of kidnapping” for the 7 homeschooled, home-birthed Stanley children, according to their father. Hal and Michelle Stanley were given no warning that their court hearing scheduled for February 12 would be abruptly postponed until March 23. They say they were not given any explanation as to why the hearing was postponed.
They had been under the impression that their children would be coming home after the hearing, and had held onto the hope that the crazy situation would be resolved, and their family would be reunited. The pain in their voices was palpable as they expressed their disappointment and grief over the postponement.
The father explains to Health Impact News that they are only allowed to visit with their children a few hours a week, under strict supervision. There has to be two observers, and if they talk about things they are not supposed to discuss with their children, the visit is cut short. As a condition to these supervised visits, Hal and Michelle must attend “parenting classes,” even though they have homeschooled their children for many years. Hal Stanley is also a 73 year old ordained Southern Baptist Minister.
Full Tactical Team Showed up to Remove Their Children
Chicken and sausage gumbo was simmering on the stove, and company was expected on the evening of January 12. Instead of welcome guests, a full tactical team surrounded the Stanley home.
Garland County Sheriff’s Deputies and DPS entered their home, demanding that Hal and Michelle wait outside in the cold while they searched the house and talked to the children. There were reportedly at least 30 people, including a SWAT team, Arkansas State Troopers, a coroner, a doctor, a dozen cars, a medical van, and a sniper in a ditch allegedly aiming at the parents on the front porch.
Neighbours have questioned the need for such an excessive show of force for a 73 year old man and a mama whose primary concern is the well-being of their children.
The search warrant was for a water purifier product known as MMS, a substance which is not approved by the FDA for health claims. It is not illegal to possess, however, and may readily be obtained online legally. Hal Stanley reports that he uses it for his garden, where he raises much of the family’s food. He also reports that, if they had simply asked for it, he would have given it to them and avoided much pain.
There was no indication that the children were going to be removed until near the end of the 5-hour ordeal. By then, it was after 9 pm, yet the children were allegedly not even permitted to eat their supper before being hauled away from their home. They were told to pack 2 days worth of clothes. But the parents were not permitted to help the little ones pack.
It was supposedly a 72 hour removal. For children as young as 4 years of age who had never spent even one night away from home, the idea was terrifying. There were tears all around, while authorities hurried them out of the house. It was only later that someone got them something to eat.
Empty House with no Children is now “Too Quiet”
The house is eerily quiet now for the couple who has been accustomed to the noise and busyness of lots of children surrounding them. On the night the children were taken, there was all the confusion and emotion of the police taking the children away, then:
“Five minutes later, we didn’t have any children. And we still don’t have any children.”
Under Attack for their Way of Life?
They feel as though they are under attack for their way of life, at the core of which is their Christian faith. Their faith has led them to a lifestyle of homeschooling their children, who were all born at home, and sustainable gardening, providing for their family a home that is full of love but not materialism.
According to Evan Soule, “Hal and Michelle are poor financially but very rich in spirit and love.”
Hal Stanley being hugged by the littlest Stanleys during a supervised visit after the children were removed from the home.
In such an environment, as well as in many normal, loving families, children do not always get their way. Just as some kids in public school beg their parents to let them homeschool, a couple of the Stanleys’ older children allegedly wanted to go to public school.
According to a letter from a friend of the family that was sent to Health Impact News, one of the teens created accusations that were reported to authorities in a creative, yet ill-considered attempt to be able to attend public school, not considering the implications that could devastate younger siblings.
Another friend of the family posted on the Facebook support page Bringthestanleykidshome that the Stanley kids have never shown any signs of being abused.
“I have seen firsthand the kids who need help who have been abused and neglected (because I grew up in the foster care system). The Stanleys are not like these kids. They were happy, joyful kids. They knew no fear, they were happy to talk and visit with anyone, smart, well educated, clean, healthy, never sick, love their parents, always smiling. It was said best by someone who has seen them, since they were taken: the smiling Stanleys smiles are fading. You tell me, is this right or just?”
There have been no charges filed against Hal or Michelle Stanley. Even when the children were being removed, the DHS workers reportedly remarked that there was no reason to take the children out of the home. When Mr. Stanley asked who actually made the decision to take their kids, Garland County Deputy Mike Wright allegedly replied, “I did, and I am proud of it.”
How to Destroy a Family
Now the close-knit family is only allowed a few hours per week together, under strict guidelines as to what may or may not be said in the presence of their children. At one visit, Hal says their 4 year old asked:
“Daddy, can you come spend the night with me in my new house?,” while referring to his foster guardian as “dad.”
The children’s lives have been turned upside down, over a claim that the parents say was easily dismissed as invalid, with no evidence of abuse or neglect. They have been placed in public school, where their parents are concerned that they may not be prepared. They allegedly have been seen wearing clothing that doesn’t fit, and shoes that are worn out. Their diet has changed and they no longer are eating their mostly organic, health-based diet. They have never needed to see a doctor before for illness, because they have always been very healthy.
The Stanley parents have always been able to be there for their kids as their protector, and now the state has taken that away from them. They are upset, and feel helpless to take care of their family right now, but they are more angry at the broken system than at any one person. Hal tells us that “there are good people bending over backwards to help our kids, but the system is broken.” They were “basically treated like criminals running a meth lab” because of the (not illegal or banned) substance MMS.
Why are These Children Being Kept Away from Their Parents?
They don’t understand why they are being treated like this, and want to know how this kind of injustice can happen. Michelle has dedicated her life to serving her family, making choices that she has believed were in the best interest of her family.
“You can’t imagine the horror of it,” says Hal, who has served his country in the military from 1960 – 1963. He is appalled at the way the rights that he took an oath to uphold have been completely trampled, as well as a number of Constitutional rights.
MMS has not been mentioned by the authorities in recent weeks, leading some supporters to question what the real motive behind the “kidnapping” is. To some, it appears that the sheriff’s department has taken the kids first on allegedly false premises of the home being unsafe, then trying to figure out how to build a case afterwards, fishing for dirt on the Stanleys. The children were all found to be in excellent health when the doctors checked them, and to date, no one has presented any evidence of abuse or neglect.
Supporters Are Asking for Your Help
From the Standing with the Stanleys Facebook Page:
Please contact everyone you can about this ongoing, massive injustice against two American parents and their children: friends, business associates, media, government officials at all levels —from the Governor of Arkansas to Arkansas State Representatives and Senators to DHS to the Juvenile Court of Garland County, Arkansas. This is America and We the People have to stick together!
The DHS address is: 115 Stover Ln. Hot Springs, Ar. 71913
Call DHS: 501-321-2583
DIRECTOR DHS ARKANSAS (501) 682-8650
Garland County Sheriff’s Department at 501-622-3690 or email Sheriff Mike McCormick directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOLLOWING IS A LINK TO DIRECTLY CONTACT GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON:
The above link will allow you to send an email directly to the governor’s office.
JOHN VINES In Session Phone: 501-682-6211
Out of Session Phone: 501-682-7771
Join the Standing with the Stanleys Facebook Community Page.