A family in Glasgow, Montana is accusing the state’s child protective services of “kidnapping” their teenage daughter after the girl began to identify as a transgender “boy.” Krista and Todd Kolstad spoke to Reduxx about their ordeal, revealing that the child had been removed from their care and was now going to be sent to Canada.
Krista, the child’s step-mother, explains that their nightmare began in August of 2023 after they received a call that their 14-year-old daughter, Jennifer*, had expressed suicidal ideations while at school.
“She had always had problems at school,” Krista says, noting that she and Todd had even pulled her from one district and sent her to another due to issues with bullying in an effort to give her a fresh start. But despite experiencing some real-world hardships, Krista claims Jennifer also had some undiagnosed mental health concerns, including attention-seeking behavior.
Later on that same evening, a case worker with Montana Child and Family Services (CFS) showed up to the Kolstad home to speak with Jennifer and do an inspection. Krista had been preparing dinner at the time, and invited the case worker to tour the residence despite both her and her husband being distressed by the sudden appearance.
During the interview with CFS, Jennifer claimed to have consumed toilet bowl cleaner and painkiller medications that day in an effort to commit suicide. Krista says that it had immediately struck her as being highly unlikely, as not only did Jennifer not have access to either substance unmonitored, but that Jennifer had expressed no symptoms of imminent illness that day.
Despite their doubts about the veracity of Jennifer’s claims, Krista and Todd agreed to take Jennifer to the local hospital on an emergency basis. While there, blood work returned that Jennifer had not consumed any toxic substances.
Krista and Todd provided Reduxx with copies of Jennifer’s medical paperwork to substantiate their claim that Jennifer had not consumed any dangerous substances the day she was admitted to hospital. The paperwork confirms that there were no abnormalities detected in Jennifer’s system, and that her overall physical health was good.
But notes taken at the hospital consistently mention that Jennifer identifies as a “male” and wishes to be called “Leo.”
Krista says she and Todd immediately made their objections known to Hospital staff, requesting Jennifer be called by her birth name.
“We were very clear to the emergency room staff as well as [CFS] that this goes against our values, morals, and our religious beliefs,” she said, but hospital staff refused to listen. “They told me to call their lawyer if I have an issue as they will do what the patient tells them.”
While the medical transitioning of minors was prohibited in the state of Montana at the time, Krista says the hospital told her that “social transitioning” was a “grey area” and continued to call Jennifer “Leo” and refer to her as a boy.
As a patient admitted for suicidal ideations, Jennifer was placed on 24/7 watch to keep her safe. But Krista says an aide was placed outside of her door who would regularly talk to Jennifer about “gender affirming” care.
“I came one day and she was talking about having top-surgery and being non-binary,” Krista says of the aide. She took her complaint to the on-duty Doctor, who dismissed her. “He told me, ‘why are not you more concerned that your daughter is trying to harm herself, then what [the aide] is talking about?'”
Another aide who had been set to watch over Jennifer similarly chastised Krista, telling her to “respect” Jennifer’s wishes to be called “Leo.”
Krista describes Jennifer’s time in the hospital as a period of constant efforts to undermine her and Todd’s parental authority. In addition to not respecting their wishes to refer to Jennifer by her birth name, hospital staff refused to abide by any other requests, such as limiting Jennifer’s TV and phone time, encouraging her to do her school work, and not allowing her to have copious amounts of junk food.
During this time, Krista and Todd had communication with Child and Family Services, and all agreed that Jennifer would benefit from specialized residential care for treatment and counseling. But during a conversation about where Jennifer could be placed, Krista says the possibility of her being moved to Wyoming was presented.
“They told us that there were 6 facilities in Montana, but that there was also a facility in Wyoming. And at that point, because we were already in such a state from the hospital disrespecting us and our wishes, we immediately looked up Wyoming’s laws on transitioning minors,” Krista says. “It looked to us like kids could go ahead and have procedures done and have hormones without parental consent.”
Concern began to set in, but Krista and Todd were assured that the most likely scenario was Jennifer being placed in a Montana-based facility, and on August 22, Krista and Todd were told that Jennifer was next in line for a bed in Billings, Montana.
But hours later that same day, Krista and Todd were called and informed Jennifer would be moved to Wyoming.
“They called and told us that a bed had opened up in Wyoming and that Jennifer needed to go. [The Doctor] said ‘she has to go. she’s not doing any good here,’ and we were really blown away,” Krista recounts. “No one talked to us about the the name of the facility — we had no one to answer our questions. We told them we wanted our questions answered before we accepted the bed.”
Ten minutes later, Child and Family Services arrived at the Kolstad residence with police.
“They showed up at our home to serve us with papers to take Jennifer out of our care,” Krista says. “They told me the reason was that we were ‘unable or refusing to provide medical care.’ That’s just not true.”
The next day, August 23, Jennifer was transported to Wyoming. Despite the fact that Krista and Todd were not allowed to see Jennifer during her move, CFS did allow Jennifer to stop and see friends and co-workers prior to leaving the city. Krista would later find out that Jennifer had told her friends that she was “crazy and trying to kill herself” and was being taken away from her parents.
“I feel this was a lapse in judgement by [CFS], a violation of HIPAA, and a miscarriage to Jennifer, as she is only 14. What if, when she is 17, this incident is behind her and she is in a good place mentally? This is a very small town and they have just let her brand herself as the ‘crazy kid’ who tried to kill themselves.”
While Jennifer was in Wyoming, neither Krista nor Todd were allowed to speak with her directly. Instead, they had to go through Jennifer’s counsellor, but Krista says they were very reluctant to give her information.
Krista later had to request Jennifer’s records from the center in order to get an understanding of what had happened to her while she was at the facility.
On September 25, Jennifer was returned to Montana and placed in a Youth Dynamics group home where she has remained ever since.
“They called it ‘temporary legal custody,’ which means they have the say over where she is at, but we are supposed to be able to have the say over everything else. But that was not upheld. There were incidents of her getting vaccines we did not consent to, we were not told the name of the Doctors involved, and she was allowed to shave her head,” Krista says.
Since Jennifer returned to Montana, Krista and Todd have had monthly court meetings along with Child and Family Services to determine next steps. The couple was assigned a public defender, who simply encouraged them to keep their head down until the process was complete.
“I am not trying to throw them under the bus… but all of their advice has been ‘play nice, just let her finish the group home program and then get her back in your care and move on with your lives.'”
But while the group home placement should have been just 6-9 months, the family’s situation took a dramatic turn for the worse during their hearing on January 19, 2024, when the court decided to hand custody of Jennifer over to Child and Family Services.
“We were told that letting Jennifer transition and live as a boy was in her ‘therapeutic best interest’ and because we aren’t willing to follow that recommendation, the court gave CFS custody of Jennifer for six months,” Krista says. “CFS is now going to place Jennifer in the care of her birth mother in Canada, who has never really been apart of her life. The judge said to us ‘you need to expect that reunification with your family may not be what you are expecting.'”
Jennifer’s birth mother, Christine, currently lives in Kitchener, Ontario with her new husband. After Jennifer was born, Christine reportedly left the child with Todd, and has never been involved in her care since.
“She’s never called to see how [Jennifer] is. She’s never sent her anything. Nothing,” Krista says.
According to Krista, any communication from Christine at all has been sparse, and she has never made a meaningful effort to have a relationship with the children she left in Montana. Despite her apparent lack of interest, Krista has been sending Christine semi-regular updates on all of her children for the past seven years.
But disturbingly, Krista explains that she and Todd have grave concerns about Christine’s fitness as a parent.
“I have this letter from one of Jennifer’s previous counsellors that recommends that if Christine wants to come back into her children’s lives, she should do unification therapy, there should be trial visits… all of this stuff should happen because the children reported her as being abusive,” Krista says.
Krista and Todd provided Reduxx with a copy of a statement from a licensed professional counselor detailing sessions that Jennifer and her sister had attended. Both girls described Christine as being uncaring, abusive, and even “crazy.”
In one section of the statement, the counselor describes one of the girls as witnessing “incidents of violence directed at an older sibling,” which involved Christine “throwing that sibling against the refrigerator after becoming enraged at her” for wearing her mother’s jewelry without permission. The child goes on to detail “incidents when her biological mother would punch, hit, slap, and kick her and her siblings.”
Jennifer similarly alleged disturbing cases of abuse by her biological mother, including one time Christine reportedly grabbed and held her around her waist while repeatedly slapping her in the face.
Of the five children Christine and Todd had together, only one had lived in Canada with Christine prior to aging out of her care. While living with Christine, the boy exhibited severe behavioral problems to a point where Christine approached Krista and Todd for help.
In one conversation, Christine admits to regularly checking homeless encampments and police records in anticipation she would one day find her son in jail.
Child and Family Services was provided both the counselor’s statement and the text messages, but Krista said that nothing could be done to intervene in Jennifer’s placement.
“Our family has been destroyed by this. We have little to no contact with Jennifer and our rights as her parents have been trampled on,” Krista says. But despite the turmoil that has been brought into their lives, the couple says they will never stop trying to help their daughter come home.
Krista and Todd chose to defy a judge’s order to remain silent on the case in order to tell their story. They were set to appear in court today to respond to charges of contempt, but have had to delay the hearing due to a family emergency.
“We will continue to fight. We will never give up on our daughter and for what we believe is morally right. We will continue to tell our story, even though we are currently in contempt of court, and try to keep other families from going through this. Our greatest fear is that our daughter is now going to become a victim of this system and eventually take her own life.”
While Krista has expressed fear that the family’s legal avenues are limited, she has said that they intend to find any means they can against Montana Child and Family Services as well as the hospital where Jennifer was treated.
“I will also be looking at if we have a case against Youth Dynamics Group Home for socially transitioning our daughter against our wishes,” Krista says. “This is NOT about money, this is about standing up and telling our story so this does not happen to another family. We will fight to save our daughter no matter what it costs us financially or emotionally. That’s what parents do for their children.”
*The child’s name has been changed at the request of her parents.
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