A Greene County juvenile court has ruled in favor of a Missouri couple seeking to adopt a child of a Guatemalan woman after she had been arrested and detained for working in the country illegally.
The move culminates a lengthy international custody dispute over the child which put American immigration policies under scrutiny and drew outrage from a Guatemalan diplomat and others fighting for immigrant rights.
Judge David Jones ruled this morning in a closed Springfield courtroom that the 5-year-old boys’ birth mother, Encarnacion Romero, abandoned the child. The ruling, which terminated the birth mother’s parental rights, paves the way for Seth and Melinda Moser of Carthage to formally adopt the child.
The couple has raised the boy since he was an infant. Carlos Jamison Moser, who goes by the name Jamison, just completed preschool, said the family’s attorney Joe Hensley.
“The Mosers are very happy,” he said this afternoon. “This is something that’s been hanging over their heads for years. They’re ready to close that chapter of their lives and move on.”
Romero, who has been allowed to remain in the country awaiting the outcome of the dispute, was present in the courtroom today and left the courthouse in tears. Neither she or her attorney could be reached for comment.
Those working for immigration rights who had been watching the case closely said they were disappointed with the decision.
And from ABC News:
In a controversial case that involved the rights of illegal immigrants and their young children, a Guatemalan mother lost her effort today to get back the five-year old son who was taken away from her after her arrest on immigration charges and put up for adoption in Missouri despite her objections.
A Missouri judge ruled the boy should stay with the Missouri couple, Melinda and Seth Moser, who took him into their home five years ago while his mother was in federal custody, where she attempted in vain to oppose the adoption proceedings.
“Nobody could help me because I don’t speak English,” said Encarnacion Bail Romero in an interview with ABC News.
The child, born as Carlos but renamed Jamison by the Mosers, has been with his adoptive parents in Carthage, Missouri since the age of 11 months.
The judge said the biological mother had no rights to even see her child, according to the mother’s lawyer.
This case speaks to a phenomenon I hear and read about with increasing frequency: Mothers who leave their children with other people—family members, friends, acquaintances who appear helpful, orphanages, feeding centers—either willingly or through circumstance—for Encarnacion Romero, following an arrest and jail; for other mothers, due to poverty or other personal challenges—over some period of time, without apparently realizing the potential and lifelong consequences.