The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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July 18, 2012

Update: Judge terminates Guatemalan woman’s rights to child, allows Carthage couple to adopt

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Greene County juvenile court judge today terminated a Guatemalan woman’s rights to her 5-year-son, thus allowing a Carthage couple to proceed with adoption.

The ruling was announced in the closed Springfield courtroom. The ruling follows a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that sent the case back to a lower court for a new trial after finding the mother’s rights had not been upheld in a Jasper County court.

Encarnacion Romero, the mother of the child, cried as she was leaving the court building.

The adoptive family, Seth and Melinda Moser, left the building immediately following the ruling.

Romero’s attorney said the decision will be appealed. Romero was arrested May 22, 2007, when the child was less than a year old.

Adoptive parents Seth and Melinda Moser were “ecstatic, and very emotional,” after the hearing, according to their attorney Joe Hensley, of Joplin.

“They are looking forward to going on with their lives,” he said.

Hensley said the decision was contained in a 62-page ruling that terminated the biological mother’s parental rights on the grounds of “abandonment, neglect and parental unfitness.

“None of the grounds were about her being an illegal alien,” he said. “We’re extremely pleased with the judgment because it was a vindication not only for the Mosers, but for everyone involved that was trying to do right by a child that had been neglected.”

Hensley said the decision also authorized the adoption of the child, though he said some additional documents still need to be filed before the action is considered complete.

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