Trigger Warning: Suspected Child Abuse, Wrongful Removal.
It's any parent's worst nightmare to have their children taken away from them, especially for the wrong reasons. Melissa Bright and her husband Dillon experienced what they would probably describe as the worst days of their lives when their children were taken by Child Protective Services after 5-month-old Mason fell off a camping chair.
As any mom of two or more children knows, wrangling all kids at the same time is no simple feat. In July of 2018, when Melissa set her baby in a chair a mere 2 feet off the ground to tend to her 2-year-old daughter for one second, she heard a gut-wrenching thud. Baby Mason had fallen headfirst into the concrete driveway.
Melissa picked up her baby and quickly called her husband and 9-1-1 while Mason's head continued to swell. Mason was taken to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston where he was treated for two skull fractures. Doctors then began to question how Mason had two fractures from one fall. Unable to explain, suspicion was raised against the parents.
Dr. Dhvani Shanghvi, who was in the midst of specializing in child abuse cases, said that the boy's injuries looked more like abuse than an accident. That one note in Mason's medical file opened a world of catastrophe for the Brights given Child Protective Services were then notified. Little did anyone know, Mason had a clotting disorder that intensifies injuries.
When the case was opened, Melissa and Dillon weren't too worried. After all, they weren't guilty of child abuse and saw it as simply procedure. Mason returned home and CPS checked in to see how he was doing. When the Brights thought everything had settled down, the unthinkable happened.
On September 19th, 2018, CPS arrived at the Brights' house and told them they were taking both Mason and his 2-year-old sister. Knowing they couldn't fight it, Dillon wrote up care instructions for both children. Mason was nursing at the time he was taken away.
Melissa, hysterical that her babies were being taken away, was told to "calm down" by the caseworker. Charlotte, the 2-year-old, was excited to have visitors until she was being buckled into the car realizing she was being taken away from her mom and dad.
After a lengthy fight, and almost one month later, the children were rightfully returned to their parents. Harris County Judge Mike Schneider saw the error the doctors and caseworkers made in assuming the Brights abused baby Mason and ordered that the state pay $127,000 to the Brights for their legal fees.