Scott County

Police slammed after child found in Kentucky. Critics: Parents can refuse boy’s cancer care.

Joshua McAdams
Joshua McAdams Provided by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

A missing 3-year-old boy who was found in Kentucky Monday night is at the center of a fierce debate about parents’ rights to refuse medical procedures.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida announced Monday that they were searching for 3-year-old Joshua McAdams and his parents. The sheriff’s office said the boy’s parents, 27-year-old Joshua McAdams and 22-year-old Taylor Bland-Ball, had failed to bring the boy to a hospital for necessary treatment.

Monday night, the sheriff’s office said the boy was found safe in Georgetown, Ky., and that charges of child neglect were pending against his parents.

The boy was taken to a local hospital to be evaluated, according to WKYT, the Herald-Leader’s reporting partner. The Kentucky Department for Community Based Services was working with police to find out what happens next, the news station reported.

But some argued that the boy’s parents had a right to refuse medical treatment for the boy.

The boy’s story was highlighted by the Florida Freedom Alliance, a group founded to “bring together organizations fighting for individual freedoms under one, large united front.”

The group’s website, which refers to Joshua as Noah, says that he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“After 2 rounds of chemotherapy along with dietary intervention, vitamin and herbal supplementation, Noah and his parents celebrated that his cancer was no longer being detected,” the website said.

The Florida Freedom Alliance also said that Joshua’s family refused to take him to further treatments, though they were legally required to follow the full recommended treatment plan of a pediatric oncologist.

“Noah’s mother is passionate about natural health and aware of the dangers of pharmaceutical interventions, especially if not necessary,” the Florida Freedom Alliance said in their argument. “Their desire to seek alternative care resulted in medical kidnapping orchestrated by Child Protective Services.”

A fund set up by the group on Facebook had raised more than $7,600 for Noah’s parents as of about 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Thousands commented on the Facebook post by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office announcing the search for Joshua. The post was updated when the boy was found. Some said natural remedies are not adequate for treatment of child cancer and others supported the boy’s parents.

One commenter, Chellie Anne, shared the Florida Free Alliance’s post about the boy and voiced her support for his parents.

“SET THEM FREE,” she said in the comment. “They are not criminals. They are beautiful loving parents that have done nothing but take care of their son and respect the doctors wishes this entire time. They have done the chemo, he is CANCER FREE. They do not wish to do radiation knowing that he is now healthy.”

Others said it would be hard for parents to be sure that a child is cancer free.

“Some chemos help radiation work better by making cancer cells more sensitive to radiation,” Amanda Faye Roberts said in the comments. “Not seeing cancer on imaging does not mean someone is cancer free. Also, none of the people here are oncologists either.”

As of Tuesday night, no information had been released about what would happen next with the parents or the child.