Hailey is my 15 year old disabled niece.
Haley's genetic defect is the only one the doctor’s have seen like this, so there's not a label for it per se. There are no other medical records that show any other human with this condition, so she is generally categorized as, “mildly mentally disabled.”
Her brother Neo is 16 years old. They both were living happily with my sister, Myriah, attending top notch schools in Florida, until recently.
On July 13, a horrific and unexpected thing happened: we lost Hailey in a custody battle to her father.
When Hailey's estranged father, Nick, filed for custody, we were not worried, at all. Nick does not have a job, he has a criminal record (including multiple DUIs and several police reports against him on battery), and he has repeatedly failed to pay child support.
We are unsure why Nick suddenly wanted to claim Hailey as his own, especially after being uninvolved in her schooling, care, and doctor's visit for her entire life.
We assume his interests are financial. He is unemployed, and with Hailey in his custody, he qualifies for disability payments and foodstamps from Indiana state.
Nick’s emotional and verbal abuse is the primary reason that, 4 years ago, Myriah moved herself and the children to Gulf Breeze, Florida.
We should have won this case without a doubt, right?
When the trial occurred, Nick brought several of his friends and family members as witnesses. All of these witnesses—one who is a felon for armed robbery and one who has a mental illness—testified that Hailey frequently texts them that she is “alone and scared,” especially during storms.
Hailey has the cognitive capabilities of an 8 year old, along with a few other disability quirks. So, this is to be expected. Miss Hailey will do just about anything for one-on-one attention, as her school teachers and family can validate.
Myriah was vastly underprepared for these accusations. We assumed the fact that Nick’s record, lack of paying child support and joblessness would be enough to ensure Hailey remained safe in her custody.
We were not prepared with our witnesses, who would readily testify that Hailey's text message are untrue. We thought that it was common knowledge that living with her father—who surrounds himself with criminals and lives in a neighborhood where meth busts and murders regularly occur—is in fact, very dangerous for a disabled little girl.
This, tragically, created a perfect storm that tipped the judge in her father’s favor, and we lost her.
Now, we need your help to bring Hailey home. Your contribution will help myself and my sister pay for:
>a lawyer that specializes in family law
> travel expenses for witnesses from Florida
> Myriah’s unpaid days off and travel for the trial
> Hotel costs during trial days
> My flight to Muncie from Seattle (Adrienne) to testify, support and protect my sister during the trial
Our appeal will hit the courts on Monday, and we already have our witnesses lined up. We are calling lawyers for consultations, and we just need the funds to make it happen!
Our community has already come out in droves to support this cause, and we cannot express how much we appreciate every ounce of support. Emotional, intellectual or financial. Every dollar or insight or testimony helps!
Join our movement, get updates and read public records by joining our Facebook Group: Bring Hailey Home .
- Brandi Valandingham
- Katie Cannon
- James Hammock
- Danielle Robinson
- Maria McDonald
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