Tonya Brown is “just a mom who is in love with her kid,” adorable 8-year-old Christopher Reign Brown. Because Tonya questioned a very risky, painful procedure for her son, Tonya reports that his doctor at Phoenix Children’s Hospital enlisted Child Protective Services to take him away from her custody.
If the doctor has her way, Tonya could lose her beloved child forever in the upcoming hearings to permanently sever her parental rights later this month – all because a mother wanted to try less invasive options for her son before going to a treatment that carries sizable risks.
On September 23, 2011, Tonya received the devastating news that no parent ever wants to hear – her child has leukemia. Specifically, he was diagnosed with CML, chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer that is extremely rare in children.
Chronic myeloid leukemia is considered an older person’s disease. It was reportedly in stage 2, the accelerated phase. Christopher’s doctor, Dr. Jessica Boklan, recommended 12 weeks of oral chemotherapy, followed by a bone marrow transplant. Tonya agreed to the chemo, which began immediately, but had reservations from the start about the bone marrow transplant..
Tonya researched the recommended treatment, and found that, besides being a very painful procedure, there was no guarantee with the bone marrow procedure. Even with a matched donor from a close relative, there is risk of the body rejecting the bone marrow. But in this case, the transplant would require an unrelated, mismatched donor, greatly increasing his risk of rejection or complications.
There are no blood relatives available, because Christopher was born and orphaned in Guatemala. Tonya says she fell in love with Christopher from the moment she laid eyes on him, and she adopted him when he was a toddler.
Tonya and Christopher turned to their faith when hearing the diagnosis of leukemia, expecting God to heal as they had seen so many times before. Like millions of other parents, Tonya Brown researched options, followed the doctor’s directions, and prayed.
The chemo treatments made him very sick, and he begged his mother to stop making him take the chemo and trust God for his healing.
As the time approached for the bone marrow transplant, Tonya made the decision to have Christopher delay with going through the risk, and what others had described as agonizing pain associated with the procedure, until they tried other, less invasive options first. She wanted the perilous bone marrow transplant to be the last resort.
After 10 weeks of chemo, Tonya stopped the treatment. At home, she began juicing, and treating him with a strict diet that has been recommended for cancer. She used nutritional treatments, and they prayed and believed God for healing.
Shortly after that, Tonya reports that Child Protective Services called her and they played phone tag for a couple of weeks. Then, the calls stopped. Tonya and Christopher went on with their lives.
He reportedly got better. During the next 18 months, they went on vacations; he went to school; they went to birthday parties. They did missions outreaches. Pictures from that period show a happy little boy who obviously loves his family and friends. They lived life, and Tonya continued the dietary and nutritional treatments, and prayer.
After a year and a half, Tonya explains that Arizona CPS suddenly showed up at her home. Dr. Boklan had allegedly told them that there was a child whose mother took him out of treatment, and they would likely find either a dead child or a boy on his deathbed.
They found neither. Christopher happily bounced around to show the worker his room and his stuff. They showed her around the house. All in all, the visit seemed to go well.
Nine days later, in June of 2013, Tonya took him back in to Phoenix Children’s. She reports that he was just beginning to show signs of a relapse – losing his appetite and bloating of his abdomen. Those were the same signs that had appeared before. Tonya knew that she had done everything she could do, and it was time to seek help.
When she took him in, Dr. Boklan expressed her displeasure at Tonya removing Christopher from treatment the year before. A bone marrow aspiration test was ordered. At the time of the original diagnosis, that test showed that 16% of his cells had cancer. This time, without the medical treatment that the doctors wanted, the new test showed that only 6% of his cells had leukemia. The tests showed that his leukemia was in the chronic phase, or stage 1.
Dr. Boklan insisted that treatment must begin that night. CPS was at the hospital when she came, saying they were there to ensure that Christopher got any necessary treatment. They assured Tonya that they were not there to take her son. When Tonya asked for a second opinion about the treatment, which she considered to be her due diligence as a concerned parent, she was denied. She agreed to allow him to be treated, because the cancer was back.
CPS was allegedly prepared to close the case when she agreed to chemo. However, Dr. Boklan insisted that they keep the case open. At her request, CPS put an anklet on Christopher to keep him on the floor of the hospital. After 20 days, Tonya says she was ordered to leave the hospital. Christopher was taken from her custody on June 25, 2013, in spite of the fact that his mother says she had agreed to all his treatments.
The alleged charges against Tonya were:
- Medical abuse/neglect, because she kept him out of treatment for 18 months.
- She is psychologically unable to make the right medical decisions because of her delusional religious beliefs (she believes in prayer and healing).
Christopher has been placed in a foster home, where they plan to adopt him, despite the fact that he has a mother who loves him and wants him back. CPS and the hospital have petitioned to sever all of Tonya’s parental rights. She has not been permitted to see him since January 31, and the last time she spoke to her son was May 5.
Dr. Jessica Boklan considers herself, per her testimony in court, to be the world’s leading authority on CML leukemia. She has an impressive resume of research studies that she has co-authored or is participating in at present, most involving children, cancer, and drugs.
Tonya Brown reports that, from the beginning of her son’s diagnosis, Dr. Boklan has pushed for her to enter Christopher into a research study. Children with his disease are allegedly extremely rare, and much prized for their value in research.
Tonya refused to give her consent for experimental research. She reports that during every doctor’s visit, Boklan would demand that she allow Christopher to participate in studies, asking, “Have you signed those papers yet?”
Now that Christopher is a ward of the state, the doctor is free to do medical research on him without his mother’s knowledge or consent. Like Justina Pelletier, Isaiah Rider, the Deigel sisters, baby Kathryn, and countless other children who have been allegedly medically kidnapped, doctors are legally permitted to use little Christopher as a research subject, which many parents compare to using “lab rats” in scientific studies.
A recent bipartisan bill has been introduced in Congress by Michelle Bachman which seeks to stop these medical experimentations on children who are wards of the state.
A common denominator that has been noted in a number of medical kidnap cases at Phoenix Children’s Hospital is the use of a psychologist to come in and review cases in which children are removed from parents. In Tonya’s case, the psychologist allegedly trampled her traditional Christian beliefs and used them against her, reportedly saying that she “continues to cling steadfastly to her bizarre religious beliefs,” calling her faith “delusional,” and questioning her ability to make right decisions in the future. Her faith has been called into question. Freedom of religion is one of the most cherished of American values, yet there seems to be an unconstitutional addendum added in recent years, specifying that freedom of religion may only exist as long as it does not interfere with medical dogma. Any religious belief that challenges the doctrine of “the doctor knows best” is thrown out as heresy, and violators are now subject to their children being seized by the state.
Tonya, like others, had been following prescribed medical treatment, and was simply asking for a second opinion, while incorporating prayer and faith as part of the overall treatment protocol.
Based on this alleged psychological assessment that religious beliefs preclude someone from making sound treatment decisions for their child, every parent in the country who prays to God to heal their sick child is at risk of having their child taken away by medical authorities simply for practicing their religion. However, no law or government gives any doctor or psychologist the right to demand that parents not believe in God or pray for their child. The demand would be met with mass non-compliance if it were enacted.
Tonya is a mom who wants desperately to be reunited with the little boy that she sacrificed everything for to go rescue from a group home in Guatemala. He is reportedly a well-loved little boy, who was very happy when he lived with his mother.
Christopher Brown’s situation is very perilous at this point. A family stands ready to adopt him if Tonya’s parental rights are severed. There are two final hearings, on November 14 and 21, during which a judge could return her son back to Tonya, or she could lose him forever. Everything is reportedly riding on those two hearings.
A rally has been scheduled for Friday, November 14, at 8:30 am at the Durango Juvenile Court in Phoenix. They need as many people as can to show up and support this family that has been unjustly torn apart.
An advocacy group has put up a Facebook Page to share news on Tonya and Christopher’s plight: FreeChristopher
For more on this story, see Health Impact News.