The parents of a toddler in New Mexico say they have lost custody of the 3-year-old girl because they couldn’t control her weight.
Anamarie Martinez-Regino weighs 120 pounds and is 3½ feet tall — three times heavier and 50 percent taller than an average 3-year-old, according to the girl’s physician, Monika Mahal, who made the recommendation that she be removed from her parents’ custody.
Miguel Regino and Adela Martinez, Anamarie’s parents, say they’ve done everything they can to help Anamarie and say the state has unfairly labeled them unfit to care for her.
The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department took their daughter, after a doctor said the child’s condition was life-threatening.
“I saw a child being pulled away from the only parents she’s known. The only remembrance she has is them pulling her away and us standing there crying because we felt so useless. We couldn’t do anything, we couldn’t stop them,” Adela Martinez told ABC’s Good Morning America.
Mahal was out of town and unavailable for comment.
In the Child’s Best Interest?
Irene Moody, who is in private practice with Mahal and has examined Anamarie, said Friday the decision was in the best interest of the child.
“I can’t tell you what is causing her to be this large in absolute certainty,” Moody told the Albuquerque Journal. “But we do know that her size is life-threatening.”
Margaret Martinez, Anamarie’s grandmother, said her granddaughter has had a weight problem since she was 2 months old.
“She just started growing and gaining. I mean she just kept going, you know and it’s just been so hard. And then the first doctors, they just kept saying, ‘Stop feeding her,’ and I told them ‘Im not feeding her what you think I’m feeding her,’” Margaret told Good Morning America.
Anamarie has been in and out of the hospital since she was an infant, but doctors have not been able to determine a cause. Glandular tests have been conducted and nothing abnormal has been found, Moody said.
But the family says the problem has medical roots and is not caused by overeating or bad nutrition at home.
“I can’t see anybody doing that to a little baby,” Martinez said. “I don’t reward her with food. People think that she’s looking for food like some kind animal and that I love her by giving her food. I don’t do that.”
Martinez said tests done on Anamarie a month ago found the weight hasn’t yet placed unhealthy stress on her heart
‘I’m Going to Fight for Her’
No state agency or law enforcement office has accused the family of anything improper in the treatment of Anamarie, Martinez said. But the legal papers she received Friday charged the family with not being able to keep the child’s weight down.
“I can’t believe that’s what they’re thinking,” Martinez said. “How can I make her body grow the way it has? It’s back to blaming us.”
Dan Hill, a spokesman for the Children, Youth and Families Department, said it is against state law for the department’s officials to comment on an open case.
Martinez has been told she will be allowed to visit her daughter but doesn’t know when. A custody hearing has been set for Sept. 5, and her family says they are going to try to get her back.
“They never did a full investigation on us. A home visit should have been done before the child was removed,“ said Anamarie’s father, Miguel Regino. “They asked for names and numbers of family and friends they could check with and see what kinds of parents we were. They never once called anybody, never once tried to check out on us.”
”I’m going to fight for her,” Martinez said. “What else can I do? She’s my baby. I just have to remember, I’ll get her back someday. I’m just trying to clear my head of the last memory I have of her being pulled kicking and screaming from that room.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.