On April 25, 2016, little Esmeralda was born in the Swedish city of Norrköping.
During pregnancy, the mother took a number of medications, which led to the birth of the little girl with severe injuries.
Mother and daughter had to stay in the hospital for several more days than usual – and on the ninth day of Esmeralda’s life, she was abandoned.
The little boy, who was suddenly alone in the world, was nicknamed “Little Heart”.
When Esmeralda was seven weeks old, she and her adoptive parents Melinda Jacobs and Lacey Lundberg were placed under a hidden identity.
Although life was filled with love, care and security, it was suddenly decided that the three-year-old would return to her biological parents – after unanimous court approval.
A few months before Esmeralda turned two, the parents complained about the decision of the Child Protection Agency. Child Protection refused to transfer custody to the parents, but after a court hearing, the parents got their daughter back, According to Aftonbladet. She then lived with Melinda and Lacey for about three years.
– The idea was always that she would grow up with us. We can never imagine her moving away. It was a huge shock and a very shocking one, distressed Melinda tells Dagbladet.
Just nine months later, in January 2020, Esmeralda turned 3 Found dead.
Nearly three years ago, the case rocked the country, as shocking details were revealed.
For foster mother Melinda, it was important that what happened to Esmeralda never happened to a child again.
– Mistakes were made at every point. The 38-year-old says that every time there was a small opening, it was overlooked.
Melinda has fought tirelessly for the rights of vulnerable children. After Esmeralda was found dead, it didn’t take long for the foster mother to realize that the three-year-old had been neglected by several agencies.
The autopsy report describes the brutal abuse.
The three-year-old remained dead for three days before she was found. The autopsy report notes that the girl “had a moderate to good chance of survival if she had received appropriate treatment promptly.” But instead of taking their daughter to the hospital, the parents chose to leave Esmeralda dead for more than two days, according to the report.
When Esmeralda was forcibly removed from Melinda and Lacey, no demands were made of the biological parents. The rust test was not performed, and the family was never followed up.
– In the first two weeks after Esmeralda died, I sat at home on the sofa and stared into the air. Over the course of the two weeks, intense hatred for the entire system grew. She explains that such loathing allows you to run for many miles without getting tired.
The death received a lot of attention, and the 38-year-old was eventually contacted by a female journalist of the same age.
– I told her she could take the case if she helped me contact the politicians.
The agreement was kept and Melinda held a meeting with the Ministry of Social Affairs in Stockholm.
– I gave all the pictures I had of Esmeralda. I showed them photo albums, so they could see that this was a healthy girl who was doing well with us, but was forcibly taken away all of a sudden out of ignorance.
“Lex Purple Heart”
After talks with Melinda, the Swedish government earlier this year put forward proposals for five new legislative changes, called “Lex Lilla härtat”.
It entered into force on July 1, 2022.
– What happened to Little Hart is very tragic and that is why the legislation needs to be tightened, as Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallingren previously stated in Government website.
Melinda believes there is still much to be done, but that knowledge has increased in Sweden. She is now in Norway to meet with the Directorate of Children, Youth and Families (Boufdir).
– something does not add
After the foster family was notified by the authorities, it took six months before Esmeralda moved into her “home”. After that, the three-year-old was not allowed to contact the family she grew up with.
The father, who was never allowed to meet Esmeralda, was now working as a caregiver.
– I asked Esmeralda about her mother, and she wanted to go home with me. The biological parents did not like it, and therefore cut off all contact with us.
After that, it didn’t take long before Melinda’s warning lights started flashing.
No one has heard anything from Esmeralda and her parents. Nobody saw them. I realized something wasn’t right.
It may seem as if Esmeralda has disappeared.
The 38-year-old said she tried several times to report the incident to the authorities.
It goes without saying that the special service should bear the responsibility of following up after the children return home. Running away from a dysfunctional family – when you learn they’ve been so abused in the past – is totally wrong.
When the authorities finally found Esmeralda, she was dead. Blood tests showed the presence of several drugs in her body and a number of physical injuries.
Aftonbladet writes that Esmeralda’s mother has tested positive for all the drugs in her daughter’s body. However, she is completely at a loss as to how her daughter is taking drugs, and she constantly denies that anything criminal has happened.
The parents of the three-year-old boy were arrested at the scene. The father died in custody and was never convicted.
In June 2020, the case was brought to the Swedish District Court. The mother was sentenced to 21 months in prison. However, she was not convicted of murder, but of negligence contributing to the death of the girl by not seeking medical help.
It was an obvious mockery of Esmeralda, says Melinda.
Both the mother and the Swedish public prosecutor’s office appealed the ruling. The following year, the mother was sentenced to eight years in prison.
– I feel like I was the voice of Esmeralda. This cannot happen again. We must learn from what happened, says Melinda, so that no more children live the same fate, and she adds:
A change is about to happen in the country, but it will cost Esmeralda her life.
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