A Florida judge ruled Monday that a 4-year-old boy must remain with his grandparents after his mother and father halted chemotherapy treatments for leukemia and instead pursued alternative therapies.
Hillsborough County circuit court judge Thomas Palermo said that Noah McAdams would face “substantial risk of imminent neglect” were he to go home with his parents, Taylor Bland and Joshua McAdams.
Placing the boy with his maternal grandparents “is the only way to ensure Noah’s health, safety and well-being,” Palermo said.
Bland and McAdams temporarily lost custody of Noah earlier this year after the local sheriff’s office said the parents “refused to follow up with life saving medical care” and had left the state for Kentucky.
The agency issued a missing person alert for the boy on April 29.
The couple has said they were seeking an out-of-state second opinion about the boy’s treatment after he underwent 10 days of chemotherapy and follow-up tests showed the cancer appeared to be in remission.
A lawyer for the couple has said they were also examining alternative remedies.
Among those remedies was cannabis — a drug that Bijal Shah, of Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, said is not supported by scientific research as an effective alternative to chemotherapy, NBC affiliate WFLA reported.
Shah said another two and a half years of “maintenance chemotherapy” was needed to maintain Noah’s remission after an initial round of treatment, the station reported.
A lawyer for McAdams and Bland, Brooke Elvington, told NBC News on Monday that the couple was “devastated” by the decision.
“Noah belongs at home with his parents,” she said.
After pursuing a second opinion, Elvington added, the couple had voluntarily agreed to continue Noah’s chemotherapy treatments. He is also receiving CBD and THC oil, Elvington said.
But on Monday, Palermo said he didn’t find the couple’s promise to continue that treatment without fleeing the state credible.
“Without law enforcement intervention, Noah would still be deprived of necessary medical care,” Palermo said.
Elvington said the couple is still weighing an appeal.