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Child Welfare in Montana: The Kolstad Family (Part 3)

Posted at 6:38 PM, Apr 04, 2024

GLASGOW — Todd and Krista Kolstad of Glasgow posted a YouTube video in January highlighting the events leading up to the state of Montana's involvement with their family. Following the release of the video, MTN met with the Kolstad family at their home. Since that meeting, MTN has investigated the family's claims their parental rights were violated (part one; part two). For Krista, step mother to her husband's youngest child (the youth involved), it's been hours of research into state legislation.

"I read the bills that could pertain to our case because I am not a lawyer, I have to re-read them and re-read them to understand them." Krista explained.

As MTN sifted through hundreds of documents, the Kolstad's have a long fight ahead of them. Through hours of research they found support alongside Montana House Representative Kerri Seekins-Crowe (R-Billings).

"Parents need to be heard in their wishes on how to parent their children. I feel for this family and hope that justice can served to them," said Seekins-Crowe.

As established in the second installment of this series — Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services promotes the reunification of families upon a Child and Family Services Division investigation. DPHHS Declaration of Policy states, "the policy of the state of Montana to provide for the protection of children whose health and welfare are or may be adversely affected and further threatened by the conduct of those responsible for the children's care and protection."

In the Kolstad family's perspective it was an agenda promoted by a government agency.

"It wasn’t about reunification with us with (child), it was pretty much saying, we are putting you in your place," exclaimed Todd.

MT Rep. Kerri Seekins-Crowe (R-Billings) sponsored HB 676An act generally revising laws regarding fundamental parental rights; specifying that fundamental parental rights are exclusively reserved to the parent of a child without obstruction or interference from a government entity; providing parental rights and responsibilities; prohibiting medical care for a child without parental consent.

"The law says that parents have the right, to guide their children’s medical care." Seekins-Crowe said. "They also have the right to direct the upbringing of this child, or to direct the moral or religious training of the child. That’s what we need to remember and that’s a true Montana value.”

The Kolstad's referred to HB 676 numerous times throughout their interviews with MTN — remaining firm in their stance their parental rights were violated.

MT Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D-Missoula) weighed in on the issue at hand throughout the entire Kolstad case.

"You have the state stepping in, for immediate needs to keep a child alive, moment to moment. That is what’s trying to be done here," she explained.

The Kolstad family became involved in a family investigation by Child and Family Services following an anonymous reporter calling in a suspected suicide attempt by the Kolstad's youngest child. The child stated to CFS workers their parents were not accepting of their decision to identify as a male and their preferred name. A medical report provided by the Kolstad's following the child's admittance in the hospital in August 2023 reports acetaminophen and salicylates were not detected in the child's system. The report adds in the psychiatry section, "oriented X3, normal, cooperative, normal affect, psycho motor activity normal and denies hallucinations. Admits to suicidal ideation, admitting to taking at least 20 ibuprofen 200mg tabs at 1600 and drinking Clorox toilet cleaner at 1500... Labs are unremarkable..."

Zephyr's argument is in congruence with Deborah Kottel, Professor of Law at University of Providence. Kottel has interpreted family law and policy for MTN throughout the investigative series.

"If a child is self-harming, then action has to be taken. We see this even in child custody cases when kids are 13-14 years old."

That's what Child and Family Services did under current policy and law as the Kolstad parents spoke publicly about their case. Child welfare cases are typically private for the protection of the minor involved. The Kolstad's claim they kept the anonymity of their child by not mentioning their names. The final Order to Vacate their case states, "Such claims are wholly untrue and self-serving, it should be self-evident to anyone who lives on or has spent time on the hi-line that simply not using a child's first name does not provide any anonymity to the child. Given the worldwide platform to which the father and stepmother have pandered, it is unlikely the Youth can ever comfortably return to the Glasgow area or even the hi-line."

The Kolstad's told MTN they would prefer their child to have their mental health addressed before gender identity and wait to transition until they're at least 18 years old.

"We told her no matter what she chooses to be," explained Todd, "We will always love her and back her and be there for her no matter what. We want her to be happy always."

If you ask Zooey Zephyr, a democratic lawmaker and transgender woman, she says when dialogue about a transgender child is created publicly, it opens the door for hate speech and danger to the LGBTQIA+ community.

"It is easy to get the facts of the case wrong, particularly when you're talking about a CPS case that is to protect the child sealed. So what happens here when you get misinformation spreading rapidly? It drums up fear. We have a state agency and CPS that is concerned with the immediate safety of a child." Zephyr said. "We have to acknowledge that it leads to real violence. When the governor of Texas or A.G. was sending out for medical records of a gender affirming clinic in Georgia, that clinic was subject to an arson attack. A few days later, we have seen posts amplified by a far right social media account, Libs of TikTok, lead to bomb threats at schools. Those are real direct violence."

MTN asked Krista to respond to Zephyr's statement on misinformation, hate speech and violence spreading from their story to the LGBTQIA+ community.

"We would in no way support any type of hate crimes towards any community, no matter who it was. We don't feel speaking out and giving our point of view and fighting for the right to raise our our child the way that we we see fit is sparking any type of violence toward anyone." She explained. "We had a child who had some mental issues. What we asked for was to help her through this crisis and not transition her and give us back a boy child. We don't feel like you're (the state) addressing the root of the problem."

The Kolstad story was shared numerous times by the X account, Libs of TikTok. Zephyr pointed out a Facebook post from Todd in November and the language used.

Todd Kolstad FB Post
November 23, 2023 post from Todd Kolstad, "Children need to be protected from the perverts currently in office. Montana needs to stop toying with this and make it illegal for children to have sex changes in their early years. #FoxNews"

Kolstad's post reads, "Children need to be protected from the perverts currently in office. Montana needs to stop toying with this and make it illegal for children to have sex changes in their early years. #FoxNews"

We asked Todd about the term "perverts" and who he was referring to and how it supports the reunification of his family and relationship with his transgender child.

"I think it's perverted for politicians if its an election to promote trangendering a child." He responded. "I think the pervert comment would have been more to the people that are grooming these children to think that they can interchange their sex and do all these things. These are the perverts, not the child itself. You're looking at someone who's young and who wants to be liked and who wants to be accepted. If they get acceptance in this community, those are the perverts, the ones that are grooming these children to do these things or the ones that don't care about the child's future in order to promote their agendas right now."

The final Order to Vacate the Kolstad child welfare case removes custodial rights of the Kolstad child from Todd and Krista — placing them in the custody of the non-offending parent, the birth mother in Canada.

Deborah Kottel says, "To be a family unit, it takes respecting the child and that means not speaking publicly so the child isn’t admonished, or embarrassed or bullied."

In this case, the documents outline the Kolstad's eagerness to speak out leading to the conclusion by the court. The Kolstad's refused to sign off on care in Wyoming when it was recommended their child needed acute psychiatric care. The Kolstad's were in Contempt of Court for willingly, speaking to numerous media outlets and understanding the consequences of those decisions.

Again, the state of Montana promotes reunification of the family unit.

"The question is, if you deny the child talking about it, information about it, or the child doesn't feel heard by a particular person and the child is likely to kill themselves. Leaving the child in that environment is self harm and self harm and risk to the child will top anybody's rights," Kottel explained.

Todd added, “We haven’t even begun to fight. The fight is just starting. We are going to do everything we can to save that little girl’s life.”

The Kolstad's have filed lawsuits in the Montana Appellate Court which were denied and dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Valley County Attorney Dylan Jensen issued a statement to Hi-Line media outlets and posted by KTLZ/Mix 93 states:

"The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Child and Family Services Division, through Valley County Attorney Dylan J. Jensen makes the following limited statement regarding the accusations leveled by Todd and Krista Kolstad regarding the State of Montana's involvement with their family. The Kolstads have alleged they are victims of government overreach, and that their rights as parents are being violated. On January 19, 2024, in open court, the State of Montana requested it be allowed to dismiss the case involving the Kolstads. Had the motion been granted, Todd Kolstad's legal rights as a parent would have remained fully intact, and the State of Montana would have no more involvement in his relationship with his child. Mr. Kolstad, and his wife, objected dismissal and requested the State remain involved. Any statement made otherwise is false and inaccurate."

Valley County DA Statement
Statement from Valley County Attorney Dylan Jensen on Kolstad Case.

MTN followed up with the Kolstad's and CFS reported their child is no longer suicidal under the care of the birth mother in Canada. The Kolstad's have maintained contact with the child with approval from the custodial parent.