By Erin K Costello
Megan Heimer, aka Megan Redshaw, is just another mommy blogger on-line that follows the "crunchy" tenets such as, vaccines are bad, natural remedies before modern medicine, no circumcision, detoxes, and homeopathy. Most people may remember her as the person who wrote the blog post "God Does Not Support Vaccines," or the post "Dear Parents, Are You Being Lied To," both of which are published on her website Living Whole. Megan also has another blogging website called Megan Redshaw.
Like other natural or "crunchy" bloggers, Megan presents the same dangers and harm with misinformation, lies, fake science, and ignorant views regarding health, medicine, and especially vaccinations. Unlike the other pseudoscience fiction writers though, Megan extended her lunacy outside of her biological family and tried to adopt children into her harmful world. The self titled website seems to focus more on faith, marriage, and personal issues she has developed with people and agencies surrounding her adoption drama. Her ordeal with one agency in particular is what I aim to mostly focus on today. Before we get to Megan's years long battle with Department of Family Services (DFS), let's first give a little back round on Megan Heimer/Redshaw.
In Megan's about section on her Living Whole website she describes herself as the following,
"I finished college at nineteen with a degree in political science.... My desire to save the world from itself motivated me to go to law school, and my love for food and natural medicine (along with my desire to do 5,000 things as once) led me to the study of natural health. I have a law degree, am a certified Natural Health Educator, became a certified Naturopath after completing four years of training at two different institutions, am a certified yoga instructor (Yes, I went through that phase.), am Pn1 (Precision Nutrition) certified, founded Live Beyond Words Inc.., which focuses on orphan care and poverty alleviation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and worked as a marketing manager for a social media company before I jumped into blogging full-time."
It does appear to be true that Megan graduated from college from the University of Missouri at 19 years old. According to WMU Thomas M. Cooley Law School Megan graduated with a Juris Doctor on January 22, 2011. Megan admits she has not taken the bar exam as yet. Part of the reason for failure to do so could be because of the ranking Cooley Law School currently has as a four-tier law school. In a screen shot from her Living Whole Facebook page, Megan then claims to have attended the Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education for three years and then attended the Trinity College of Natural Health where she obtained a degree as a naturopath or a "Doctor of Naturopathy (N.D.). She goes on to say she was also certified as a Natural Health Educator through the Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education. As far as being Pn1 (Precision Nutrition) certified, I consulted a registered dietitian, Erin Burke RDN, LDN, to see what that entails. Ms. Burke explained how she had looked into this certification at tone time. She continued by saying, "I don't know the exact content of the cert, but my understanding is that it provides basic nutrition education and behavior change/coaching training to a variety of health and fitness professionals."
I find it important to also note the poor standing of Trinity College of Natural Health. The "college" is currently not an accredited institution in the U.S. The diplomas and/or certificates are not accepted for licensing or professional registration in the U.S.
According to Megan's Linkedin page, she is the founder and a blogger at Living Whole. She continues by saying, "I write about all things health and wellness and manage a platform with more than 40,000 social media followers and 150,000+ monthly readers." However, according to the most recent data from Worth Of Web, the website has an estimated worth of only $2,726 and has a daily income of around $6.56 per day. According to Cutestat, Living Whole has 336 daily unique visitors and 672 daily page views. Megan's Facebook page by the same name, Living Whole, has a total of 32,030 likes and 31,860 followers. However, once I compare page activity to our page, What's The Harm, I see that Living Whole has had 0% page likes over the past week, 2 posts this past week, and 188 total engagement over this week. To give an idea through comparison, our page has almost 10,000 followers. Over the past week our page has gone up 1.7% in page likes, we have had 37 posts, and 4.1K total engagement this past week. If Megan's Facebook page had organically earned three times as many likes and followers as our page has earned, then she should see at least the same amount of activity as our page sees. That isn't the case though. Her page sees almost zero activity.
Megan's maiden name is Megan Carlstead. Her second and current, marriage is to a man named Chase Redshaw. However, it was during her first marriage to Seth William Heimer that Megan's parental traumas began to arise. Throughout the anti-vaccination community there's a common theme concerning Child Protective Services (CPS) or Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Regardless of the reason for the involvement of such protective agencies, or the reason for removal of minors from a home, the anti-vax rallying cry is always the same: "Medical kidnap" because these "woke" parents simply don't do things in the mainstream way. Whether it's the case of Chase Walker, a young boy taken from his mom due to malnutrition and unregulated alternative medications, or the case of Nicholas Gunderson, a 13-year-old boy taken by child services when his mother refused to continue the chemotherapy treatments that will likely save his life, the claims by the anti-vax crowd are all the same. These kids are taken due to a personal vendetta against the parents, due to the parents' refusal to vaccinate their kids, due to their choice to home school their kids, or due to any decision the parents make that are deemed as different from the mainstream. There are even several Facebook groups and pages devoted to their outrage, one page has over 15,000 members. Megan's story does not begin as a medical kidnap tale, though she plays the victim much the same with the assured claims of conspiracy. Megan's story begins as an adoption story.
Megan begins to tell her story with,
"My adopted children were unlawfully withheld by DFS (the "Department of Family Services", also known as CPS), in a state that neither I, nor they, are residents of, and were placed in foster care on no grounds so they could be illegally adopted out to a family who was given the resources that I, by law ... should have been given. I have been deprived of my rights, my resources, visitation and contact with my children, have been lied to and lied about, have been the recipient of false judgements when not a shred of evidence was presented against me, and I am taking my case up with the Court of Appeals."
She says she remembers it like it was yesterday, when she and her then husband, Seth William Heimer, a doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) in the U. S Air Force, decided to adopt two babies from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Megan says it seemed like the right thing to do, to care for two orphans "who would have died otherwise." This claim of sure death is one Megan makes often through the two blog posts of hers I am referencing, though how they would have died or what dire threat they would have faced had they not been adopted is never explained by Megan. The adoptions of her two children, a son and a daughter, are said to have been finalized on December 2, 2013, however Megan says the ordeal to arrange passage to their new home in the U.S. turned into a 3-year nightmare because of a suspension that prevented their exit from their country, along with thousands of other children. During this 3 year time period Megan states she traveled back and forth to visit the children and paid "an astronomical amount each month to keep our children alive." It was then that Megan had also started a non-profit in Congo that "focused on poverty alleviation and orphan care.....drilled wells, fed and clothed orphans, built schools, and provided medical supplies and food to orphanages." Then, Megan explains how her marriage fell apart.
In September 2015, she says,
"I remember the night my then husband came home from his six-week Air Force training. His uncharacteristically cold stare was enough to tell me that something was off. With no emotion whatsoever, he stated that he had unilaterally decided he would not allow our adopted children to come home (as they were projected to be released). No discussion allowed. All I could do was cry. I was told nothing that would make it even remotely okay to leave two kids in a third world country to die. Does such a justification even exist?"
She continues on to say that days later she learned he had been having an affair and had spent their entire eight year marriage living a lie. She claims her husband no longer wanted her, the baby she was carrying, the adopted children, their non-profit, or the life they had together. The only kids it seems her husband was prepared to love were the two biological girls they already had. In Megan's defense, if what she claims is true, her then husband was an ass. Though, I suspect he had some justifiable reasons for wanting out, but it was his timing that made him an ass.
Next Megan reveals that she moved back to their old town, a town near family and faith. She says she found a job working from home as a marketing manager for a social media company, saved up for a place to live, and continued to pay the overseas fees for her adopted children. It was then, Megan says she hired a private investigator to locate her adoptive children's birth mom to see if reunification was possible, because the orphanage where her kids had been staying was about to close down. Once reunification was deemed not possible, and she could not find alternative care, she then decided to bring them into "her home."
Megan says her soon-to-be-ex husband was not exactly cooperative in this goal. She claims, "He pretended he wanted to reconcile in order to get information and then threatened a lawsuit against our adoption agency behind my back..." Long story short, between calls to the U.S. embassy, calls to the Congolese government, hiring a lawyer in Congo using money borrowed from her parents, who sold their house to help her afford this, and booking tickets on different airlines, they were finally ready to be released...or, so she thought. Megan says her daughter was being held for a bribe at the airport in D. R Congo, a bribe she refused to pay as a matter of principle. She then says she couldn't risk losing them both, so she flew her son out to the states.
Her adoptive son arrived at the airport when Megan's bio son was only six weeks old. Three weeks later her adoptive daughter arrived as well. As a result she said her soon to be ex was livid. He refused to acknowledge the adoptive children as his own. Megan explains how she had a difficult time caring for 5 children on her own. Kids aged 4,4,2,2, and six weeks old. She says she put her kids in intensive adoption preservation therapy to help then deal with their "trauma," attachment issues and to learn necessary skills. Megan also put herself in therapy to help her through her divorce and new life challenges. Megan then lists the issues she so bravely martyred herself through such as language barriers, food hoarding, bed wetting, tantrums, biting, hitting, lying, chewed up crayons, approaching strangers, homeschooling, cleaning up white poop due to worms, and attachment disorders. Megan says she taught them how to eat with utensils taught her daughter "English and how to act around men," learned how to do their hair, went to "hours and hours of therapy multiple days a week," taught the kids how to navigate lights, noises, sounds, taught then to pray to Jesus, and worked from home, so they could "cocoon" for four months. She even thrown in the following,
"When these babies were lying on a cold floor in an orphanage starving to death, before they even became my children, I gave them MY milk and then I shipped them the best possible formula so that my son wouldn't have to drink tea in a bottle. I paid extra to a nanny so that my son would not be left on a cold floor crying, but would be comforted and cared for"
Megan says her son adjusted without missing a beat, but her daughter was more of a challenge. At one therapy session about six months in Megan recalls the therapist said to her, "Megan, any other parent would have given up a long time ago. I don’t even know how you’re doing this." She explains how she couldn't obtain services for her children due to being "intentionally deprived of insurance and the citizenship paper needed to get social security." After a year and a half Megan says she couldn't go on without help or resources. She called the DFS in her county to see if they could help. She says she was told they could not help, and they referred her to her adoption agency, but the agency had since closed down. Megan says she had no services, no respite, no help....except for some relatives of her ex-husband. She says these relatives have always wanted to adopt, loved her kids, loved her, and would be honored to privately adopt her children, her adoptive children. Megan agreed with the exception it was an open adoption. She says she had no reason to believe their intentions were anything other than to help.
Megan assures readers that this was not a case of re-homing, where people bypass the legal system. The adoptive family completed a state approved home study, they signed a guardianship, they filed their petition to adopt, and made an official announcement of the adoption. Megan signed over her guardianship, and then she was cut off from her adoptive kids by the new family.
In February 2018, the adoption by the new family still hadn't been finalized. Megan was led to believe the new family was also now looking to "re-home" the children. Megan objected and had a lawyer draw up a letter stating she wanted her children back. About one month later (nine months after the new family had taken over guardianship) Megan says she received a text at about 6:00 am telling her to come get her kids by 6:00 pm that evening. Megan did not pick her kids up. She gives reasons for failure to do as not having insurance, child support for them, transportation to and from school, no therapy services, no help, no car seats, a horrible attorney, no protection from her ex-husband, and no way to pick them up. Since she never picked up her kids like she was asked by text, the new family then "abandoned" the kids at DFS in their county and state, and allegedly made up a false story when doing so. Megan says that DFS office called her about the kids and as Megan tried to explain the situation the woman from DFS hung up on her. Next begins the court battles...
Megan claims she was forced to represent herself because she didn't like the alternative, a public defender who also works for DFS, she says she presented a "ginormous stack of evidence" she had collected for years, she was honest, left nothing out, made her intentions clear and allegedly refuted "every single lie DFS was running with and the narrative the family who dropped them off had told." The kids had been placed in protective custody for about two weeks while this played out. As a result of her efforts, Megan says her kids were supposed to return to her on May 21, 2018, at 4:00 om. At this point, she says the family who had them the past two weeks called "their friends at DFS to stop it" and would not give them to Megan. It was at this point Megan discovers the bias of the guardian ad litem (GAL). She claims the GAL had no intention of returning the kids to Megan and that her goal was to adopt the children out. Megan says the GAL lied to her and said the kids had blood relatives in Missouri who wanted to adopt them. Megan continues by claiming she appealed to the GAL about how difficult things had been for her but that her pleas fell on deaf ears. She says the GAL "interrogated" her for over 2 hours, accused her of abandoning the kids, and that she only wanted them back now because she wanted to avoid paying child support for the kids. Megan claims the GAL accused her of being just some mom who thought she could "call the shots." Megan alleges the GAL made it known she had no intention of following the law, has routinely lain in court, lied to the family who has the kids, lied to the counselor, undermined her rights, excluded evidence, prevented Megan from participating in counseling with the kids just so the GAL could feel the counselor her "made up version of the facts and their history." Megan further claims the GAL ignored medical documents of her adoptive daughter's conditions, tried to make Megan get a psyche evaluation, lied about the guardianship terms, excluded testimony, and testified the kids have now since bonded with the new family. To add extra drama on the heaping pile, the family that now had her kids was a family she knew. A family that also adopted from the Congo. Megan says she helped them with paperwork and even donated to the release of their adoptive children.
Now came what Megan calls "false judgments." The hearings found that Megan was unwilling to take her kids back, that resources had been provided to Megan, that DFS made efforts to contact relatives of Megan's, that the kids could not be returned to Megan's care or home for reasons she calls imaginary, and that DFS had been pursuing reunification to no avail. The dispositional judgment stated "order of abuse/neglect." Megan sums up this blog post as being seven months into her nightmare with DFS, that she's now remarried to a christian engineer, and that she's facing probably $100,000 in court fees to appeal her case, which would also include fighting her ex-husband since he now is also fighting the kids being returned to Megan. She says she doesn't know how she'll pay for it....but here's her Go Fund Me for everyone to donate to.
This brings us to Megan's second post concerning her plight against the evil forces at DCF. She begins the post describing how she wanted to be seen as some sort of long needed savior to rescue all who have fallen victim to such nefarious agencies as DCF or CPS,
"I wanted to share my story. I wanted to be transparent with the thousands of people who follow me about what I was going through. I wanted to encourage others in the hardest of places and be a voice for anyone else finding themselves in the receiving end of a juvenile system that needs nothing short of an overhaul. I wanted my story to be told because quite frankly, my platform is the only place where the truth is going to be..... They don't want me to speak out, but what I write here is a watered-down version of what they're really doing. If they want me to change what I write, then they need to change the narrative because this is about more than just me or my children. It's about the families who were targeted before me and those who will undoubtedly be targeted after me if things don't change, for the families unnecessarily ripped apart, the ones that could have been put back together, the people who adopted because they just wanted to love orphans and were deprived of resources, and for those who don't know how to fight or that they even have that option. Most importantly, I'm still here fighting because these are my children and they deserve that."
She then goes on to clue us all in on what happened next in her saga. She says the family that currently had her kids, the family she knew from having adopted from the Congo at the same time as Megan, no longer wanted the kids. Megan claims to not know the reason for this, but adds that the family who has been "posting family photos with my kids in them for months, talking about how adoption is love, and actively working against reunification. After seven months of additional trauma they were abandoned." She adds that she and her new husband, Chase Redshaw, were now willing to take the kids back, but the court and GAL were not going to stop undermining the integrity of "the process" at this point.
Megan says that by this point, she knew Missouri law and the states that relatives have preference over any other foster placement. In other words, if anyone in her family wanted and was able to take the kids, the law states her family is given the right of first refusal before any other non-relative foster home can be considered. Megan claimed she had to hurry up and present the court with familial options since DFS were "once again trying to shuffle them [kids] to another foster family who is under the impression that they're adopting my children."
She offered the court her parents as a familial option for placement. Before the court could agree, a meeting had to take place and her parents needed to show up to be vetted by the court. During this meeting though Megan's ex-husband also gave testimony against Megan and the kids being reunited. Megan doesn't give a reason for this, only to say that the GAL was behind it and that doing so was "like putting the fate of a woman who just got beat up by her husband in the hands of her abuser," whatever that means. Megan then explains how a few days after this meeting, a hearing was held. This hearing was to remove the GAL who Megan describes as biased and unprofessional, as well as having an aversion to telling the truth. Megan describes the hearing as a three ring circus. She assures the readers they "truly had to be there" and she should have packed snacks.
Megan claims during the hearing both her parents took the stand to advocate for being the relative placement for the kids. However, Megan says DFS tried to use a 2013 home study against them where Megan discussed her relationship with them growing up. She doesn't add more about what the home study revealed though I'm guessing it couldn't have been flattering if DCF was using it against Megan and her parents. Megan then says that DFS and the GAL made her parents agree that if they were awarded placement the kids could have no contact with Megan, see no pictures of Megan, and no mention of Megan. Megan continues by claiming how this is just another manipulative means by "they" to "control the narrative." She then says she gave her dad a look that said "You do what you need to do to get these kids back." I'm going to cut to the end here, so I can move on to the more important parts. Megan says two GALs ganged up on her and her ex-husband sided with them, and it was all this huge conspiracy to keep her kids away from Megan. The ruling came out. Her parents were not awarded relative placement, the kids were homed with a new foster family where the daughter is already calling the mom, mom. She believes that once a certain amount of time has passed that DFC will then petition to have her paternal rights terminated so the kids can be adopted out to a new family. In all likelihood she is right about that part.
Reading Megan's blog on her Living Whole site, you learn a lot about her parenting approach. For example, she doesn't believe in vaccines, modern medicine, she uses Earthley medicinal products, pregnant women should not receive any vaccinations, there is a war on homeopathy, vitamin B causes cancer, you should never give children Tylenol, catching an illness is safer than being vaccinated, measles is no big deal, and doesn't believe in seeing doctors regularly or hardly ever. Towards the end of her second blog post she describes herself as,
"I was the woman who abandoned her children - not the woman who saved the lives of these two kids and have fought to get them resources every day since. I'm not the woman who single-handedly single parented five small children - two who were twinned, two with special needs, an infant, and four who were in diapers. I'm not the woman who took three biological children and shuttled them through their father's abandonment, who sacrificed her career to be with them 24/7, who got her adopted children to a place where they could speak English, go to school, use utensils, poop in a potty, and function in public, who held them when they cried because their father left, answered their questions when their world changed, handled their outbursts when they witnessed the disfavored treatent, took bullets for them, gave them a nuclear family, and has taken then to every single appointment, been at every single school function, and single-handedly single parented then to a place where they are now thriving."
That's the thing though. Yes, she had adopted these kids, but her perception of what she is and what happened is immensely skewed. Her ex-husband did not abandon these kids since he tried to tell her he did not want the life she was making for them. For granted it can be said that her ex-husband was an asshole for this, but he still told her before the kids arrived, before this was all finalized. She knew that she faced a huge uphill battle if she did this alone, but she still chose to. She keeps claiming these kids would've died and that she saved their lives but never once gives any idea as to what that means. Are we just left to assume they'd die because they were in Africa? She then explains how she was not eligible for any help, social services, or respite because her husband was listed on a form as the kids' father. For granted I know states vary in family court laws but in many states social services will still offer things like food stamps, health insurance, respite, and other assistance. If not social services then family organizations will grant these to families who apply and who are in need. I admit that in her state this may not have been a possibility, though it doesn't seem as though she tried all avenues either. Instead, it reads like laundry list of excuses rather than a list of efforts.
The parts that I just can't get past though is both the moment where she gave up her kids, and then after fighting to get them back, she refuses to pick them up when she finally received a text telling her she can come and pick them up and take them back! Regarding why she didn't pick them up that day she gives another long list of excuses, rather than an effort to get a car and pick them up. She mentions earlier when she first moved her kids here to the states that she and the kids "cocooned" for four months. That means these kids who were strangers in a strange land were trapped in a house with Megan, her three other kids, one of which was a newborn, and only left for the non-stop therapy Megan set up for the kids. She explains how they prayed, how she tried to help them adjust to things here, and even had to teach her daughter how to behave around men. She explains some medical issues the kids had but with Megan's parenting approach on health I can't help but to wonder how often these kids were fed Kate Tietje's unregulated concoctions that the Modern Alternative Mama would whip up in her dirty kitchen.
What is most telling though, is how Megan wraps all of this up in this second blog post. First she says,
"I don't know where I will go from here. I have spent six years advocating for my adopted children, over seven months wrapped up in this process, missed my bar exam to attend their hearing this summer because I supposedly "don't love my children," took the forced psych evaluation that was ordered on no grounds, have been interrogated, lied to, lied about, harassed, undermined, and deprived of my rights, provided 300+ videos to their therapist to counteract whatever false narrative she's been given, filed my case in the Court of Appeals, have contacted senators, representatives, and governing authorities, filed grievances, and continue to advocate for my children."
And then she goes on to give a step by step of how things need to change. This includes everyone standing up to fight against the system, then in one part she says,
"Maybe we should start requiring mandatory education for all DFS employees so that they understand the policies and repercussions for not following them, as well as mandatory education on special conditions many parents face like reactive attachment disorder, autism, PTSD, and sensory processing issues and how these various conditions vary among different ethnic groups and nationalities. Talking to these people about how reactive attachment disorder presents in a children that have come from a third world country and spend most of their lives inside a concrete room is like trying to teach a car mechanic how to make the perfect pesto. They just don't get it, or they downplay the severity of these conditions which hurts both the families and the children who desperately needs resources."
For the record, I know some car mechanics that are awesome cooks, pesto and all.
In all seriousness though, I realize orphanages in developing countries are likely to largely be less than ideal. But to hear Megan explain these places is like a bunch of kids living in filth and feces in a dungeon left to fight for their own survival. That it's only through the good Christian heroic women like Megan that these kids not only get a chance to thrive, but even get a chance to survive. Between her perception of her role as the adoptive parent here, and her constant testament to this victimization by not only a children and family agency, but by the court, the guardian ad litem, her ex-husband, even the country she adopted her kids from by their attempt to bribe her for more money, and from the prosecutors in each of these court visits, it becomes apparent that Megan has a victim complex and a need to be seen by outsiders as a savior to these kids. What's so troubling about this though is that she likely caused or added to much of their trauma during the time they have known Megan. She adds towards the end how her daughter is calling this new mom "mom" already as though this is a bad thing for all involved when in actuality it's just a bad thing for Megan because she wants to be the "mom" more than she wants these kids to be adjusted and to feel at home. If her daughter feels she found a "mom" in this new home, then I can't think of anything more wonderful for her daughter. This isn't an adoption vs biological difference of opinion either, at least not entirely. If Megan had adopted these kids since a very early age and had them for a long time, I would feel differently about this. If Megan became their mom shortly after birth and had these kids for close to 5 years then Megan would in fact be their mom in every sense of the word. This isn't what happened though. She had these kids for a short time, struggled the entire time, and explains their time with her as a huge and difficult path to adjustment, just before she gives them up and then fails to get them back the first chance she's given to take them back. At this point, every attempt she makes appears to doing more harm than good for these kids. Both of these blog posts read as victimizations of Megan, slights against Megan, Megan's struggles, Megan's fights, Megan's unfair treatment, and Megan's wants. They do not read as a troubled road for two adopted children who need and want a family.
These posts are in fact so little about these two children that I still have no idea what fatal fate they faced in their home country should they had been forced to stay there. Instead, I hear all about how Megan saved them, it's about her heroic deeds, her martyrdom, it's not about the children or any troubles they faced.
I didn't get a chance to really add this to the blog post, though it is too good to go unmentioned. There's a website called pandce.proboards.com, and on these boards is a thread called
"Dr." Megan Heimer's lies, falsifications, and inaccuracies.
The thread was started in 2014 and tapered off in 2016. It is about 48 pages long and it is nothing short of hilarious. I believe there is another thread regarding Megan on this website but this thread is the most entertaining. I'm serious....make some popcorn. At one point Megan even tries to comment as a fan defending Megan (herself) but is busted by the thread moderator due to Megan using the same IP address as she used in the past as herself. I'll post screen shots below for a teaser.
What's The Harm?