From an article by John Hacker in Southwest Missouri’s daily newspaper, The Carthage Press:
Joe Hensley, a Joplin attorney representing Seth and Melinda Moser, Carthage in an adoption case that has garnered nation-wide attention, made the unusual move last week of releasing Wednesday’s 62-page ruling by Greene County Circuit Judge David C. Jones terminating the parental rights of the biological mother, Encarnacion Maria Bail Romero, a Guatemalan native.
Hensley said he released the ruling to show that the judge’s ruling in the case, severing the parental rights of Romero to five-year-old Carlos Jamison Moser, was not simply because Romero was an illegal immigrant.
“The biological mother’s attorneys are saying the decision was because she was an illegal alien,” Hensley said. “The judge specifically said his finding was not because she was an illegal alien, but he also said she can’t use being an illegal alien as a shield.”
Joplin attorney Bill Fleischaker, one of four attorneys representing Romero at no cost, said he was surprised that Hensley had released the ruling, which was made in a family court hearing in Springfield, which was closed to the public.
In the first eight pages of his ruling, Judge Jones acknowledged the difficulty of the decision he faced and made his decision as to what he thought was in the best interests of the child.
“The Court is extremely sensitive to the fact that the issues before it and the decision it will issue will have a lifetime impact on the minor child, Ms. Romero and the Mosers,” the judge wrote. “For that reason, the court has attempted to give ample opportunity to each of the parties to develop their portion of the case.
The judge first decided that “Romero’s consent was not required for the adoption of the minor child by the Mosers since she both abandoned and neglected the minor child during the applicable periods preceeding the filing of the adoption petition and that such abandonment and neglect was established by clear, cogent and convincing evidence.”
The judge also decided the Mosers proved that grounds were present to terminate Romero’s parental rights and that the termination would be “in the best interests of the minor child.”
“Finally the court finds that the adoption of the minor child by the Mosers would be in his best interests under the applicable standard as well as by the higher standard of clear, cogent and convincing evidence,” Judge Jones wrote.
In the next 45 pages of the ruling, Judge Jones detailed the evidence on both sides. The details showed that Jones felt Romero and her relatives were lying in many of their claims about how Carlos was cared for in the first year of his life before he came to live with the Mosers.
“Suffice it to say that for the vast majority of the minor child’s life, the mother has expressed little interest or caring for him,” the judge wrote. “This is consistent with the way she has treated her other children. Although she has two young children in Guatemala, including one with severe psychological issues, she has made it clear that she has no desire to return to Guatemala to visit them, much less return there to permanently be a mother to them.”
Fleischaker, representing Romero, said the judge’s ruling was harsh and it ignored the mother’s fear of being sent to prison if she sought help and the cultural and language barriers of someone who could not read the papers sent to her about the proceedings…
“It’s difficult, you have to put yourself in the circumstances she was in. Unfortunately you have to have some understanding of what these families who are undocumented go through in terms of dealing with authorities, dealing with the Caucasians. They feel like the white Americans have all the power and all the control and they can do anything to them that they want to do.”
In California where I live, tens of thousands of Guatemalan men and women work to send money home to support the children and family they left behind. I wonder if Judge Jones has an opinion regarding their fitness as parents.