By Steve King
WESTLAKE, Florida (WPBF) — A Westlake couple was forced to fear having their child taken away from the state after their baby’s birthmarks were mistaken for bruises.
Loi Tran says he and his wife are on edge and still in shock from when the Department of Children and Families (DCF) showed up at their front door to question them, because their 9-month-old daughter has Mongolian spots, or birthmarks.
“It was horrifying,” Tran said.
On Sunday, after Loi and his family got back home after church, there was a knock on their door.
“It was the sheriff and someone from Child Protective Services saying someone filed allegations against us for child abuse,” Tran said.
A volunteer at the church day care saw birthmarks on their baby, mistaking them for bruises.
The couple shared pictures of the birthmarks, which are also referred to as Mongolian spots. The official name for them is congenital dermal melanocytosis.
Loi and his wife told DCF and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office that those marks are congenital dermal melanocytosis, or Mongolian spots, a birthmark common for babies of Asian descent. It’s a flat bluish-green or light brown mark that fades over time, usually on the buttocks or back, just like Loi’s daughter has.
The sheriff’s office quickly determined the allegations of abuse were unfounded.
WPBF 25 News showed these pictures to a nurse practitioner, who agrees with the sheriff’s office and the parents.
“They are definitely Mongolian spots because of the characteristics of the irregular borderline and also the area of the body that it’s located,” Elizabeth Ofori-Attah, a nurse practitioner with Reva Med Primary Care Associates, said.
Even though the sheriff’s office cleared the parents, the DCF agent had to go through the agency’s process.
“She had to take pictures of all my other daughters and find and make sure we had running water; our fridge has food, make sure. She wanted to see the room. My daughter had just been put to sleep, and my wife had to wake her up because she needed to see my daughter,” Tran said.
Tran says they still haven’t been officially cleared by DCF, and WPBF 25 News is still waiting to hear back from the agency.
“We love our daughter so much, and we just couldn’t bear the thought of that they can take them away from us,” Tran said. “It’s just the fear of knowing that somebody could just take your kid away that day if something went wrong, like if I forgot to clean my house or had I forgotten to stock my fridge up, they could just take my girls away. That was very devastating.”
He also says he hopes the day care can have better training for spotting birthmarks moving forward.
Tran says he and his wife are still not sure whether they’re going to return to the church.
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