God, Hope & Helping Others
by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News
Marc Herrmann is a teenage boy who desperately wants to go home to his family who loves him, but apparently he cannot. The 17-year-old feels he is trapped in what he sees as a cruel system that won’t let him go, and now he is crying out for help. He says he is just “A child in Canada,” who has no voice, who feels like no one is listening.
Marcky, as he is known by those who love him, is not just experiencing normal teenage angst. This is apparently so much more than that. He has allegedly experienced horrendous trauma, not at the hands of his parents, but at the hands of a broken system via Alberta Health Services and Child and Family Services. After a couple of alleged wrong diagnoses, and complications from treatments, he is now in the custody of the Child Protective system in Calgary, Canada, with no end in sight for him.
He says he is tired of being a medical lab rat for research projects to which neither he nor his parents ever agreed. He has been sending messages written in the third person that have been posted on a Facebook page created by friends of his, called “A child in Canada.” Despite the possible risks to himself in coming forward with his story, he says he is ready for his story to be told. He wants somebody to listen and just let him go home to his family.
Marc and his identical twin were born prematurely in Germany, and faced a number of health issues. Marcky was the sicker of the two babies. It was his mother’s tireless advocacy that ultimately made the difference in his survival. The standard practice in that German hospital, as in many facilities, was to separate the twins in two different incubators. Patricia Herrmann, who grew up in Burma before marrying her German husband, Gottfried, strongly believed that the babies needed to be together. It was only after the doctors had given up hope for Marc, and with prayerful intervention from an elderly priest, that the doctors agreed to put the twins together. It worked like a miracle, and Marcky got better. The boys came home.
Their health was still delicate, however. Marc’s lungs functioned at only a 10 to 20% capacity, and he has a number of health issues, including being lactose intolerant. The Herrmanns are a close-knit, devoutly Christian family. Largely because of Marc’s health, they made the decision to homeschool the twins. They had a lung specialist’s recommendation to do so after he prescribed oxygen machines for Marcky.
According to Dr. Wilfred Saldanha, Patricia’s brother, “Pat and Gottfried have one main passion in life: to do the very best for their children … [they] have done absolutely everything in their power to make life better for them.”
However, families do not have the freedom to choose homeschooling in Germany, even for health or religious reasons, and they often face persecution and even seizure of their children by the government. Because of that fear, the Herrmanns left Germany and arrived in Canada in 2007 as refugees.
They were safe, they thought.
They were apparently wrong.
In 2012, Marc’s health, which had never been good, suddenly took a turn for the worse. On November 20, 2012, his uninsured parents took him to Alberta Children’s Hospital because his eyes were crossing. He grew weaker while they waited in the emergency room. After a series of tests, he was diagnosed with Miller Fisher Syndrome, which is a variant of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. According to Right Diagnosis, the standard treatment is IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin), which was started immediately.
Miller Fisher was allegedly a misdiagnosis, however, and the side effects of the IVIG treatment were reported to be significant. Marc began to experience high blood pressure, fever, nausea, rashes, and sensitivity to light.
He was then allegedly diagnosed with Wernicke’s encephalopathy. He got to the point where he couldn’t even walk, and was discharged a few days later in a wheelchair. He began fainting and losing weight, but the Herrmann’s report that the doctor wasn’t concerned, saying that it was a part of the Wernicke’s.
Despite several months of follow-up by the same physician, Marc was still losing weight, no matter how much he ate. They returned to the hospital in September of 2013, very concerned about the weight loss and a low heart rate. They learned that the Wernicke’s was again allegedly a misdiagnosis. They just wanted to figure out what was actually wrong and asked to transfer to a different hospital for a second opinion.
That is when Child and Family Services (CSFA) allegedly took over and seized custody, citing that Marc’s parents were neglectful and caused his weight loss. The doctor who had misdiagnosed him twice was allowed to stay on his case, and reportedly changed the diagnosis to EDNOS – Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Marc was reportedly sent for treatment at the Eating Disorder Program in Unit 26 of the Foothills Medical Centre, which is part of the Alberta Health Services. He was eventually placed in foster care.
According to messages that were sent to family and friends by Marc, once the state took over his care, he was subjected to a number of questionable practices. He was allegedly entered into research studies without his or his parents’ consent. Marc, a vegan by choice, was put on a high-calorie diet and told that he was not lactose intolerant. He was compelled to eat large amounts of cheese and drink lots of milk. When he had severe stomach pain and bloating from the dairy products and huge volume of food, he says that “no one cared.” It was after almost a year that the doctors allegedly acknowledged that Marc was, indeed, lactose intolerant, just as he and his parents had said.
To date, no one has reportedly discovered why Marc continues to have weight loss problems. The Eating Disorder Team has retracted their diagnosis of the eating disorder, changing it to yet another illness called ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, allegedly never even running tests to see if there is a physiological basis for his symptoms.
While he was in treatment, Marc reportedly put up Bible verses on the walls in his room in Unit 26. Those were allegedly removed by the staff. Marc was allegedly told that he didn’t have approval for them and that they “contradict the treatment plan.”
He was allegedly told that his Christian mother was a bad influence because she was always talking about God. Patricia Herrmann reports that Marcky has long supported ministries like In Touch Ministries with Charles Stanley, and others, with his own money. For that, Marc has been ridiculed and even allegedly been called mentally ill because he believes in God. His parents have allegedly been called crazy by the CFSA because they believe in miracles, including the one that saved Marcky’s life as an infant.
Marc has been denied access to a phone or to the internet, where he wanted to research the various diagnoses and treatments to which he was being subjected. He has also sought to research the various medications that he has been given. A teenage boy has been taken away from his friends and family, and kept away from his twin brother and older sister. He hasn’t seen his parents alone for a year. When he does see them, he is forbidden to hug them.
He also has not been permitted to attend school for the past year.
Marc is fluent in two languages, and his writings, albeit with spelling and grammatical errors, reveal a deeply philosophical, intelligent young man. Despite this, at some point during his captivity, he underwent an assessment that allegedly has labelled him as “Retard.” Because of this diagnosis, he may not be free to leave state custody when he turns 18 in a few months, because he would become a ward of the Office of the Public Guardian indefinitely. The state has allegedly already made application to be his Public Guardian and had a representative present at Marc’s latest hearing.
His uncle is a physician in the United States, and has followed Marc’s health reports since his birth. But he has been denied access to any of the medical and psychological records since CFSA took custody, even though he has the full consent of Marc’s parents. When he traveled to Canada for a visit last summer, Dr. Saldanha was only allowed a supervised visit with his nephew, and was forbidden to speak with him about his medical status, CFSA, or the foster home. When Health Impact News spoke with Dr. Saldanha, he expressed great concern about the well-being of his nephew. He says that, “up to this day, I do not know what exactly is going on with [Marc] and what the real concerns and reasons from the Canadian authorities are” which are keeping Marc in state custody and away from his family. He believes that Marc belongs with the parents who love him.
Canada’s foster care system has come under sharp criticism in recent years. The Edmonton Journal published a series of articles exposing the fact that 741 children in the Alberta, Canada, child welfare system died between 1999 and 2013. As recently as July 2014, it was illegal for parents to name or post pictures of their own children who died within the system. Canadians apparently do not speak freely about alleged abuses within the CFSA system. There are rumors that speaking out may be very dangerous.
That is why it is remarkable that Marc Herrmann is speaking out now and sharing his story publicly, in the strong hope that people will stand up for him, and others like him.
During the most recent hearing on November 12, CFSA was allegedly awarded permanent guardianship. The cost for his parents to appeal the decision is prohibitively high in Canada, and even then, justice is allegedly elusive in this particular family court. Families are required to pay 50 cents per word for the transcript of the hearing before an appeal can be filed. There are more than 2,000 pages in the transcript. The deadline for appeal is December 12.
Marc cannot do anything to get himself free, and he is pleading for help. This is his letter to all of us:
To Whom It May Concern:
This is Marcky Herrmann (Marc Herrmann)
It has been a really long time and there has been little to no justice for my Family!
All the good positives was ignored and My family and I were not listend to.
I have no life anymore , no phone , no friends because of all the ‘restrictions’ to the so called “safety” of CFS. They dont let me talk to anyone bassicly..
I feel like im in prison I WANT TO GO HOME I WANT TO GO BACK TO MY FAMILY.
I want to go home I want to be with my family
I do not want to be in care , in Foster care or in Child and Family Services care.
They have done nothing but try to rip me and my family apart.
My mom and dad are good parents and know me better than anyone else.
I want to go home and i want to be with my family.
I do not deserve to be or want to be in Foster Care.
Foster care is not my home.. Home is my home with my Family i grew up with that i love and care about.. I am very sad about not being at home this is my life this is my body anhd i want to treat my body the way i want to treat it.. I want to be healthy and my parents know how to make me healthy.
But were never given a chance because of the lies and minuplations by Child and Family Services..
Please i need this court appealed , the judge did not make the right desicion and i need to be with my parents. i want to be with my parents.
I have never had any unsupervised contact even with mom and dad even though all is fine. All the accusations and assumeations by CFS are lies! and If mom and dad wouldve beeen allowed to be part in taking part in Doctor appointsments and stuff .. My life is not nromal anymore I am sad and I want to be with my family.
and EVEYRTHING with me and my family is positive.. I feel like we do not have any privacy! I am not even allowed to have my phone or anything .. I HAVE NO LIFE NO FREEDOM IM NOT IN THE PLACE WHERE I WANT TO BE I WANT TO GO AND LIVE HOME Please do something about this! MY SOCIAL WORKER DID NOT DO ANYTHING TO HELP ME AND MY FAMILY.
Here are some people that may be contacted about Marc’s story. International phone rates apply from the US.
Family Court Judge Larochelle 403-297-3937
Human Services Associate Minister Naresh Bhardwaj has a Twitter account @MLA_Bhardwaj.
Office of the Public Guardian 888-357-9339 or 877-427-4525