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HIV Positive Infant Subject of Custody Battle

A family is fighting to get custody of their baby after they earned the attention of the court system and the medical community.

Rico Martinez Nagel, 3 months old, has HIV. Court documents say that the county became involved after his parents didn’t take the baby to a medical appointment.

For two months, John Martinez and Lindsey Nagel have been making a 45-minute drive to see their son in a hospital room as he is the subject of a court fight that is focusing on his care.

The story begins three years ago when Steve and Cheryl Nagel adopted what they believed to be a completely healthy little girl from Romania. Tests in the United States would show that the little girl had HIV. The little girl was Lindsey and her parents said that the doctors told them she would only have a 20 percent chance of seeing two years old.

With this news, the parents began Lindsey on antiretroviral drugs. Every month, they would watch Lindsey lose weight, struggle to eat, and she would be in pain. It took two years for them to decide to stop the drugs. After stopping the drugs, Lindsey acted like a normal child.

In December 2012, the family was ready for a new chapter and that was the welcoming of Rico into the world. Right after he was born, doctors and social workers said that Rico needed to be placed on the same medication that Lindsey was when she was a baby. The family resisted at first, but they complied after they were told that Rico would be taken if they did not allow him to have the medication.

After a number of medical issues, Rico was able to come home after a month, but he was only home for a week.

Court documents in Mower County state that the problem involves two cancelled doctor’s appointments and an out-of-state trip. Instead of going to the nutritional appointments, the Nagels stated they were making plans to drive to Washington to meet with another doctor who could give them a second opinion on Rico’s diagnosis. The family then decided to head home once they were in North Dakota. The county CPS took the baby the following day.

Within hours of being in foster care, Rico was taken to the emergency room because he would not take his bottle.

Currently, Lindsey and John are allows to spend as much time with Rico as they want at the hospital, but they are not considered his legal guardians. The decision to give custody back to the parents is in a judge’s hands on April 1 in an ordeal that has cost the family approximately $50,000 so far.