Editorial: Baby snatching by Arlington County
Baby snatching by Arlington County
There’s an empty highchair sitting in the kitchen of the Arlington home of Nancy Hey and Christopher Slitor. It’s their daughter Sabrina’s highchair. But it’s been empty for two years because thieves disguised as Arlington County social workers and judges took her from her parents. She was stolen with no public scrutiny or accountability. Arlington County social workers used unproven allegations of neglect in April 2005 to justify removing then-3-week-old Sabrina from her parent’s home. Her parents were accused - anonymously - of starving Sabrina. And they were deemed unable to care properly for their daughter, even with the frequent help of Nancy Hey’s mother and a full-time nanny. After more than two years of legal wrangling with the county’s Child Protective Services (CPS), Arlington Circuit Court Judge James Almand terminated the couple’s parental rights in June 2007.
But nine months earlier, Sabrina’s parents were completely exonerated by Virginia CPS hearing officer George Walton, who noted in his official report that, despite the baby’s worrisome 10-ounce weight loss soon after her birth by Caesarian section, nothing in the her medical record indicated she had ever been in danger. There was also no evidence, Walton added, that Sabrina’s “failure to thrive” resulted from parental neglect.
In fact, the record showed the opposite: Nancy Hey – who suffers from a developmental disorder that makes it difficult for her to recognize non-verbal signals from others – and her husband fully cooperated with medical professionals and CPS workers throughout their ordeal. In any case, Sabrina was at her proper weight when she was taken away by county officials, two days after her parents told social worker Dana Zemke that they were retaining a lawyer. Arlington Judge Esther Wiggins Lyles signed the removal order with neither Hey nor Slitor even aware of the proceedings, much less being present to contest the decision. Sabrina went to a politically influential local professional couple with no training as foster parents, despite CPS requirements that foster couples be trained before being entrusted with children.
Judge Almand later used the baby’s inappropriate removal to justify making the separation permanent, saying it would be too “traumatic” to return Sabrina to her natural parents. So, when Sabrina turned 3 April 3rd, she didn’t blow out her birthday candles in the kitchen where her heart-broken parents still keep her empty highchair. Even after spending $350,000 in legal fees, they have not given up hope. They’ve asked the Virginia Court of Appeals to return their child. Meanwhile, every Arlington County employee involved should be put under oath and questioned in public about their role in this outrage.Examiner
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