In accordance with the plan laid out last week by Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz, the 15-year-old was moved to JRI Susan Wayne Center for Excellence in Thompson, Connecticut, from Wayside Youth & Family Support Network in Framingham, Massachusetts. The new facility is a little more than an hour away from her family’s hometown of West Hartford — nearly the same distance as where she had been in Massachusetts. So while Justina is back in her home state, the new facility is not much closer for her parents, who have weekly visits.
Justina had been at Wayside for the last few months after she was discharged from Boston Children’s Hospital, where she spent nearly a year. The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families was awarded custody of the teen through a court order after Lou and Linda Pelletier, her parents, were accused of medical child abuse.
The Pelletiers said they took Justina, who was diagnosed previously at Tufts Medical Center with mitochondrial disease, to Boston Children’s Hospital to see a gastrointestinal specialist after she suffered complications with the flu. While at the children’s hospital in February 2013, doctors told the Pelletiers that Justina had somataform disorder, a psychological disorder, and proposed changing the treatments she had been taking for mitochondrial disease. When the Pelletiers disagreed, they were accused of child abuse and Massachusetts took emergency custody.
Since then, the Pelletiers battled to regain custody of Justina in court, but most recently a juvenile judge in Boston ruled that the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families would retain permanent custody.
Last week when Polanowicz announced the plan to return Justina to her state, the family’s spokesman, Rev. Patrick Mahoney, told TheBlaze that he would caution supporters of the family to view the move as a positive, saying that the ultimate goal is for Justina to return to her family.
“You can’t look at proposal outside of the lens of 15 months of how she was mistreated,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney said the family’s goal was to have Justina home for her 16th birthday on May 24.
“As we have previously shared, DCF will support returning custody of Justina to her parents once they have engaged in the plan’s basic conditions,” Polanowic wrote in his letter regarding the plan to move Justina las week.
Though Justina was not able to see her mother on Mother’s Day, DCF said in a statement that this new facility had arranged for her family to “welcome and greet her once she arrives,” WFXT reported.