DCRally 2008, an unbrella group for the American Family Rights Association, and other like-minded pro-family groups will hold their second annual Family Preservation Festival August 15-17, 2008 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. You can read their press release for the event at the following URL:
The Rally will bring attention to corruption and unfiarness in the family courts, and in the child welfare and foster care system.
Arlington resident Nancy Hey, who is herself a victim of unfairness in the system, stongly encouraged people to attend this rally. Ms. Hey has been involved in a three-year legal battle to regain custody of her daughter Sabrina. Sabrina was removed from Ms. Hey's custody on Arpil 25th, 2005 by Arlington County's Department of Child and Family Services. Ms. Hey had been falsely accused of neglect because Sabrina had slow weight gain after birth, and was admitted to Arlington Hospital with a diagnosis of "failure to thrive". Ms. Hey resolved the problem of Sabrina's weight, by following all of the instructions of the personnel at Arlington Hopsital, but was accused by a young intern attending physician there of neglect. He reported to Arlington DCFS that Ms. Hey seemed in his opinion to have mental difficulties reading Sabrina's "non-verbal cues" and responding to her needs appropriately.
Arlington County DCFS alleged that Ms. Hey was unfit to parent a child because of her mild learning disability (Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified). They alleged that this condition caused Sabrina's initial failure to thrive diagnosis by making it difficult for Ms. Hey to instinctively know how much to feed Sabrina before she went into the hospital. However, the difficulties that Ms. Hey initially had with feeding issues were also caused by Ms. Hey's post-partum depression, difficulty with breastfeeding, and her deference to a pediatrician who recommended that Ms. Hey supplement her breastfeedings with formula, but did not recommend a sufficient amount of formula.
Ms. Hey learned about her PDD-NOS diagnosis, which does present her with some challenges in interpreting the social and non-verbal cues of others. However, she sought out help and counseling from professionals on how to compensate for her weaknesses, and how to appropriately respond to Sabrina's needs
In spite of this, she has been constantly discriminated against by Arlington County DCFS, who refused to ever offer her any services to help parents with disabilities. She has also been dsicriminated against by Arlington Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Esther Wiggins-Lyle, and by 4th Circuit Judge James F. Almand, both of whom upheld Arlington County's decision to terminate her parental rights and all visitation rights with Sabrina, using her learning disability as their main reason for their rulings
At the first Family Preservation Festival, Held on August 18, 2007, Ms. Hey wore a photo of Sabrina on a lanyard around her neck. The Awareness Quilt was unveiled, which contains the names of children such as Sabrina who were unjustly removed from their parents care. The back side of that quilt contains the names of children who have died in foster care. There is a square in the Awareness Quilt for Sabrina, which is pictured here, however, Sabrina's last name has been obscured for legal reasons. By a court order of Judge Almand, Ms. Hey is not allowed to use her daughter's last name in any public forum.
Judge Wiggins-Lyle once criticized Ms. Hey for showing her a video that showed a girl close to Sabrina's age playing with Sabrina for a few hours at the home of Ms. Hey and her husband Christopher Slitor during an overnight visit that they had with Sabrina. Judge Wiggins-Lyle said that she thought it was "poor judgement" of the parents to have a play-date for their daughter during an overnight visit. She said she thought it showed that the parents were "ignoring" Sabrina, and that the other girl "overstimulated" Sabrina. However, other people who were witnesses to that visit said that Sabrina and the other girl had a good time together, and that they played nicely, enjoying each other's company.
Other people have also complained of having been treated unfairly by Judge Wiggins-Lyle. Ms. Naomi Parrish has posted videos on YouTube describing how Wiggins-Lyle granted sole custody of her daughter to the girl's father, even though the father did not want the girl initally, and tried to persuade Ms. Parrish to get an abortion when he first found out she was pregnant. Later, when he had custody of the girl, he took her to France, left her with his mother, and abandoned her. According to Ms. Parrish, during that time the father fraudulently collected money for the support of the girl which he spent on himself.
Ms. Parrish also said that Judge Wiggins-Lyle found out that Ms. Parrish showed her daughter Baby Einstein vidoes when she was a toddler. When this came to light, Judge Wiggins-Lyle criticized Ms. Parrish, saying that the videos were bad for children, and "overstimulated" them.
Another mother, Dr. Ariel King has only periodic weekend visitations with her daughter, because Judge Wiggins-Lyle granted custody of that girl to Dr. King's ex-husband, even though the daughter tells Dr. King that her father hits her and yells at her frequently. Furthermore, Judge Wiggins-Lyle once held Dr. King in "contempt of court" for not showing up for a custody hearing, even though Dr. King had a legitimate reason for missing the hearing - her mother had just had a mini-stroke, and needed immediate medical attention.