After 16 months, Justina Pelletier, the Connecticut teen in the middle of a tense custody case between a Massachusetts department and her parents, is thankful to be going home.
In a video posted to the "A Miracle for Justina" Facebook page Tuesday evening, the 16-year-old expressed her heartfelt thanks.
"I'm just so happy to be home. Thank you for everyone for letting me go home," Justina said in the video. "I'm so excited. I can't believe it's happened."
Watch the video in the Facebook post:
While posted as a "thank you from Justina" on Facebook after juvenile court Judge Joseph Johnston made his decision Tuesday, it is unclear when exactly the video was taken -- the teen was at home with her family for a Father's Day visit Sunday -- but her sentiments regarding the decision to return custody to her parents likely are the same as that reflected in her video. Mat Staver with Liberty Counsel, a firm helping the Pelletier family from a legal standpoint, told TheBlaze after the decision that Justina was "beside herself with excitement."
Johnston 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, 2012," Johnston wrote, according to the Boston Globe.
In late 2013, Justina's parents brought her to Boston Children's Hospital after she was suffering complications with the flu. Prior to this, the teen had been diagnosed and treated by a physician at Tufts Medical Center for mitochondrial disease, a disease that affects the function of the cell's mitochondria. At Boston Children's Hospital though, the Pelletiers say they were told by doctors Justina had somatoform disorder, a psychiatric disorder, instead. When the Pelletiers disagreed with the treatment plan set forth by these doctors and tried to discharge Justina to take her elsewhere, they were accused of medical child abuse and lost custody of their daughter to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.
Staver with Liberty Counsel would not confirm to TheBlaze whether further legal action would be taken by the Pelletiers, but said “there is a real strong desire by everyone involved, even the community, to make sure the people responsible are held accountable.”
“We don’t want other families to have to experience what the Pelletier family has gone through in the last 16 months,” he said.
Justina Pelletier will be going home Wednesday, after spending 16 months in the care of Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. (Image source: A Miracle for Justina/Facebook)
After Justina was moved from a facility in Massachusetts to her home state of Connecticut earlier this year and DCF formed a reunification plan, which included several things her parents needed to do, the tone of the case began to change. For months prior, court meetings ended with the Pelletier family angry and frustrated, but last month Justina was thrown a surprise 16th birthday party, which was attended by her family and friends. She was also able to have more visits with her family during this time frame.
Justina went home to West Hartford, Connecticut, Wednesday.
This story has been updated.