The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 9, 2010

State judges pose questions in international adoption case

By Debby Woodin
news@joplinglobe.com

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Locked in a battle over who should raise a 4-year-old boy born to an illegal immigrant, attorneys answered rapid-fire questions by the Missouri Supreme Court as national eyes watch the Carthage case.

The court on Tuesday heard arguments in a case in which a Guatemalan mother seeks the return of her son, who was adopted out when he was only months old and she was in jail on charges related to illegal immigration.

The birth mother, Encarnacion M. Bail Romero, won a July decision by the Missouri Court of Appeals in Springfield, which overturned the adoption of her son by Seth and Melinda Moser, of Carthage.

Romero left the boy with her brother when she was arrested for illegal entry into the country while she worked at a Barry County poultry processing plant. Her brother turned the boy over to a sister of theirs, and she left the baby with a Carthage Hispanic pastor whose family members do child care. They then arranged for the Mosers to care for the baby. Months later, Romero learned that the boy had been adopted in Jasper County Circuit Court proceedings.

The case has attracted national interest from immigration rights groups and those that represent minority interests. Tuesday’s court proceedings even drew the attendance of the Guatemalan ambassador to the U.S., Francisco Villagran DeLeon, of Washington, D.C.

Christopher Huck, an attorney representing Romero, told the Supreme Court judges that DeLeon’s presence signified the importance of how well the U.S. guards the rights of citizens from foreign countries as well as illegal immigrants.

The court will issue a decision on the case later.

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