Attorney in Missouri adoption case releases details of ruling

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.

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8 Responses to “Attorney in Missouri adoption case releases details of ruling”

  1. Suzanne says:

    I find this very disturbing on so many levels. There is such a cultural divide that most people in the U.S. will never understand. They cannot imagine a situation so dire that people are willing to risk their lives and leave everything they know to travel to another country so they can work and create a new life where they make enough money to put food on the table. The fear and intimidation these people feel once they arrive in the U.S. is unimaginable. So very, very sad.

  2. Wendy says:

    I agree with what Suzanne says about the cultural divide, and the fear and desperation of many illegal immigrants. Does the judge have any idea what this woman’s life was like in Guatemala? That perhaps she feels she is doing the best thing as a parent by working here to send money home? That the poverty, malnutrition, and violence against women that are rampant in Guatemala might be reasons she believes she has made the best choice possible? When people are put in impossible situations they sometimes make desperate choices.

    Didn’t the judge say in his own words, elsewhere if not in this ruling, that her “lifestyle” as an illegal immigrant was not conducive to being a good parent? That seems to be the real issue here. Her son is a U.S. citizen, she is not. If she were not an illegal alien she would have been provided ample opportunity and some resources to regain custody of her child.

    The “best interest of the child” argument can become a slippery slope. A parent’s right to a child is a fundamental human right. Should all these parents lose their children because their kids would have their “best interests” met by being adopted by affluent white people?

  3. Lisa says:

    I felt terrible for her before but could also see the argument some had with not in best interest of child to release across border to come back illegally with all the inherent dangers of that. I also had sympathy that her crimes were all of illegal entry and work but did not see other crimes there. So looks like seeking a better life. I.e. she wasn’t running around in dangerous criminal elements I am aware of causing her to be in jail. But now I just read she has two children left behind she showed no interest in visiting. Was she sending money home? Whether other people did is not whether she did or not. So if she is going to leave and not raise them then somebody is raising them right? Someone has to raise them? I think he should stay with the Mosers. She isn’t fit. The affluent white people remark is annoying. What if the Mosers were not white? What does their being white have to do with it? She has two kids in Guatemala she left behind and one here that she can’t be with. She’s not raising the other two. She should leave him where he is.

  4. Rachel says:

    It’s hard not to feel hopeless that justice can ever exist in our country. I feel bad for the Mosers because it’s not their fault either. And it certainly isn’t the child’s fault. Someone… several people… need to be losing their jobs over this. They created the situation and now the judge is perpetuating the injustice. I don’t know the solution but I know this is wrong.

  5. Jessica says:

    Suzanne, I agree: the cultural divide is vast and unfathomable to many who may not have witnessed the dire circumstances that lead thousands of people every year to leave Guatemala and risk life and limb to enter this country. The repercussions are great on both sides–for the people who find their way here, as well as for the family left behind. What is the alternative? For many, there is none. No work, and no possibility of work. No way to provide for their families. Thus, they risk the perilous trip.

    For anyone interested in the subject, I recommend reading “Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reuinite with his Mother,” by Sonia Nazario, an eye-opening account of a Honduran mother who leaves her 5-year-old son to go work in the US. After 11 years of begging her to return, the boy travels a grueling 1000+ miles to find her. It’s a harrowing and heartbreaking tale that puts a human face on immigration.

    As Wendy says, some of the issue still seems to be that of being an undocumented worker in the US. Yet according to published reports by Reuters and other news outlets, in 2010, a staggering $4.13 billion dollars were sent in remittances to Guatemala, 11 % of the country’s economy. 90% of that $4.13 billion was money sent from the US. Obviously, Encarnacion Bail Romero is not the only long-distant parent trying to provide for her children in the only way she knows how. An estimated 1.6 million Guatemalans live and work in the US, many of those undocumented and unable to cross back over the border to parent their chidren. To single out Romero as incapable of parenting because she was behind bars seems harsh and unfair.

    At the same time, I see the Mosers’ side of the story, surely acting in good faith. For the sake of the boy who is now legally their son, I wish them well.

    Lisa, the comment “being adopted by affluent white people” jars me, too. Most adoptions of non-blood-related babies and children are in fact by white people. And those white people tend to be financially stable. They have to be, or else their adoption petition won’t be approved by their agency, the State, or the Federal government. Maybe someday other groups will expand their idea of family to embrace non-blood related babies and children; maybe someday the government will modify the financial requirements for adoption approval. Until then, we’re stuck with the status quo.

    Regarding this case, as Rachel says, it’s hard not to feel hopeless.

  6. Julio says:

    Biological parents should never fear the legal system terminating their parental rights, regardless of legal status or socioeconomic level, unless it can be proven that leaving the children with them would place the children in true danger. If the justice system begins to allow the illegal termination of parental rights and using questionable definitions of what it means “the best interest of the child,” we all should be concerned. Period. Read this article: http://tiny.cc/carlitos-story

  7. Jessica says:

    Julio, thank you for writing. I read the article you linked to, which makes great sense. Below is an excerpt for anyone else who is interested. Thank you again.

    http://www.hispanosunidos.us/punto-de-vista/31-the-tragedy-of-carlitos-and-encarnacion-bail-romero

    “… Let us be clear, the US has condoned illegal immigration and in the unfortunate incident that one is caught by a zealous government entity, the outcome can turn out to be disastrous. In essence, the lack of enforcement of the US immigration policy has condoned illegal immigration. We all know that the demand for illegal immigration is strong and that as long as it serves the United States economic needs for cheap labor, it opts to look the other way. There are millions of Encarnacions out there and therefore millions of Carlitos out there.”

  8. Wendy Riche says:

    The Mosers should have know the truth about the background. If they did they are just as much to blame. NOW they do and they still c hold on to this child who is NOT THEIRS. Loving the child is not an excuse to holding another womans child. SHAME ON THE JUDGE. SHAME ON THE MOSERS

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