Ryan Crawford was all smiles moments after finding out his 8-year-old son, Christopher, would be home in time to spend Christmas with him.
The agreement was reached at a Child Protective Services hearing Wednesday afternoon in Dallas.
Police and CPS said Christopher’s mother, Kaylene Bowen-Wright, repeatedly lied to doctors, which led to 13 major surgeries and 323 hospital visits. Investigators said she convinced the boy he was dying and called it a case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental disorder in which a caregiver makes up an illness or injury to get medical care.
Bowen-Wright isn't allowed contact with Christopher or his two siblings. She was released from jail on a $25,000 bond and faces a charge of injury to a child. She didn't attend Wednesday’s hearing.
Lawyers crowded around the bench at the Wednesday hearing, which lasted about 30 minutes.
For now, CPS will continue to have temporary custody of Christopher, although he's being placed with his father. His older sister was also placed with her father. His younger brother will remain in foster care pending the outcome of a home study being conducted on Bowen-Wright’s mother.
Bowen-Wright was court ordered to attend parenting classes and counseling. Crawford was ordered to attend counseling as well. It was also ordered that pictures of the children can't be posted on social media by the parents, that no one involved in the case discuss the facts of the case and no media interviews be allowed with any of the children.
Ryan Crawford didn't comment after the hearing because of the orders. He wiped away tears and gave a thumbs up to express his emotion. He hugged his mother, father and other relatives.
“We've been praying for this baby for eight years,” said Nellie Crawford, Ryan's mother.
She called Wednesday’s decision an answer to prayer.
“We're so happy," she said. "This is the day that we will never forget."
For much of his eight years of life, Christopher has been on a feeding tube that delivered food through his small intestines. Confined to a wheelchair, he even spent time in hospice.
At various times, Bowen-Wright said her son had cancer or suffered from a rare degenerative disorder that affected his oxygen supply. She tried to get him on the lung transplant list, according to CPS records.
CPS and police allege the abuse began when Christopher was just 11 days old. Medical records indicate she was seen pouring out his bottle after telling nurses he had drank the whole bottle.
He suffered three life-threatening blood infections caused by the unnecessary medical procedures he underwent, according to investigators.
Last month, Christopher and his two siblings were removed from their mother’s care after she came to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. She claimed her son had suffered a massive seizure.
Doctors could find no seizure activity on the EKG. Court records indicate that doctors were concerned that Bowen-Wright may have given him something to induce a seizure so they reported it to CPS.
Doctors and CPS investigators involved in the case now say there was nothing wrong with Christopher and he never needed a feeding tube or oxygen or many of the medically invasive procedures he underwent. Christopher is now eating normally and off oxygen.
Family members said they long suspected that Bowen-Wright was lying when she claimed Christopher was near death.
“I knew something was wrong and I told Ryan and my family something was wrong,” said Flora Crawford, Christopher’s great grandmother, who's a retired nurse.
Ryan Crawford said in a prior interview that a family court district judge stripped him of his visitation rights in 2012 because he refused to accept that his son was dying. He hired an attorney in 2014 and tried to get the judge to reconsider. He said the judge refused to even look at the medical records that showed his son wasn't sick.
It'll be a special Christmas for the Crawfords but they know it'll be a long emotional healing process for a little boy whose been through so much.
“I know I'm going to grab him and hug him,” Christopher’s grandmother said.
She hasn't seen her grandson in five years.
Flora Crawford said she had bought Christopher a robot that she was looking forward to giving him.
“You should see our Christmas tree,” Nellie Crawford said. “It’s loaded with gifts.”