Posts Tagged ‘2007 immigration raid on poultry processing plant’

Missouri Supreme Court rules in adoption case involving Guatemalan woman

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

A while back, I posted about a case in Missouri where the American-born child of a Guatemalan mother was adopted to a U.S. family. Here is an excerpt from the latest report by the Associated Press:

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that state adoption laws were not followed in terminating the parental rights of a Guatemalan woman who was caught up in a 2007 immigration raid and allowing her son to be adopted by an American couple.

But the decision doesn’t automatically return the now 4-year-old child to his birth mother, Encarnacion Bail Romero. The court instead ordered the completion of mandatory reports about Romero, the adoptive parents and the boy, and a new trial regarding Romero’s parental rights.

Judge Patricia Breckenridge, who wrote the majority opinion for the seven-member court, said another hearing would be required because the evidence in the case suggested abandonment. In a footnote, Breckenridge expressed concern about how the case played out, and three other judges indicated they would have reversed the adoption.

“Every member of this court agrees that this case is a travesty in its egregious procedural errors, its long duration and its impact on mother, adoptive parents and, most importantly, child,” Breckenridge wrote.

Romero was arrested during an immigration sweep at a poultry plant, and sentenced to two years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to aggravated identity theft. Since leaving prison in 2009, she has been seeking to regain custody of her son, Carlos, who has lived with Seth and Melinda Moser, of Carthage, since he was about 1 year old.


The case has generated widespread interest. The Guatemalan consulate, the American Civil Liberties Union and several other groups submitted written arguments to the state Supreme Court. Guatemala’s ambassador to the U.S., Francisco Villagran, watched the November oral arguments and sat near Romero in the courtroom. He said later that the dispute was the result of unclear American immigration rules.

I cannot imagine that the child Carlos will not be returned to his biological mother, who could not have predicted the eventual chain of events when she first asked relatives to care for Carlos while she was in jail. Adoption never seemed to be her intention. The AP article states:

Another couple who had been helping Romero’s family care for Carlos after his mother’s arrest had contacted the Mosers about adopting him. The boy was born in the U.S. and is a U.S. citizen. Romero was not immediately deported after serving her sentence so she could challenge the adoption, according to her attorneys.

If and when Carlos is returned to Encarnacion Romero, another layer of complexity will be added: As a child born in the U.S., Carlos is a U.S. citizen, while Romero is not. Presumably, they will both return to Guatemala. At this point, Carlos has spent three years with his adoptive family, the Mosers, and this duration will only increase with the new trial. I agree with Judge Breckenridge’s statement: “This case is a travesty… for its impact on mother, adoptive parents and, most importantly, child.”