Even though child services found no proof that she was a negligent parent, that didn’t count for much against the overwhelmingly positive results from a hair test. The lab results said she was abusing alcohol on a regular basis and in enormous quantities.
The test results had all the trappings of credible forensic science, and was presented by a technician from the Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital, Canada’s foremost children’s hospital.
“I told them they were wrong, but they didn’t believe me. Nobody would listen,” Marchand recalls.
Motherisk hair test results indicated that Marchand had been downing 48 drinks a day, for 90 days. “If you do the math, I would have died drinking that much” Marchand says. “There’s no way I could function.”
The court disagreed, and determined Marchand was unfit to have custody of her daughter.
It’s… not an uplifting story, to say the least. And it almost leaves one puzzled as to how this happened.
The first thing that jumps out at me is the name of the lab, Motherisk, which is a bit insulting right out of the gate. It almost lends one to the belief that they veer towards the paranoid. Mothers as risks to their children. That’s the sort of thing we usually reserve for step-fathers (or sometimes just fathers). I imagine that there is a mentality in the US crime labs where “If they’re wanting us to check this, the person we are checking is probably guilty. So operating from that assumption, those are the conclusions where they land. At least, whatever else we might think, we’d like to at least think that they’re not intentionally or uninterestedly sending innocent people to jail*.
Likewise, at least a part of me would like to find a benign motive in there somewhere. But given the name, “deeply paranoid” is about the most charitable explanation I can come up with. And, of course, it’s not actually a very charitable explanation.
As a private lab (unlike the crime labs), you worry further about the money aspect. If they’re the go-to place for a positive result, that might be very lucrative. More lucrative than the alternative, maybe. That’s “I don’t know how you sleep and night and you are going to Hell you terrible terrible person” territory. That this involves children at such a well-renown hospital makes it even more disconcerting. It also makes me not want to take my kids there if I can avoid it, if their operational philosophy is such that Motherisk’s results seemed legitimate.
It’s just a terrible story all around, from start to finish.
* – Though, in some cases, it does appear that is what happened.
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