The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

October 8, 2013

Appeals court decision upholds child’s adoption by local couple

The Missouri Court of Appeals has upheld a trial court decision that terminated the parental rights of a Guatemalan woman and authorized the adoption of her biological child by a Carthage couple who have raised the youngster since he was a year old.

In a unanimous, 81-page decision handed down Monday, the court found in favor of the adoptive parents, Seth and Melinda Moser, and rejected arguments made on behalf of the biological mother, Encarnacion Romero. In the appeal, Romero challenged a July 2012 decision that found the natural mother, who earlier had been arrested on immigration violations, had forfeited her rights because she had abandoned and neglected the child.

Joplin lawyer Joe Hensley, attorney for the Mosers, said the decision should help the couple “breathe a little better and see a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel.”

Hensley said he hopes the ruling, which he called “very strong, detailed and definitive,” would mark the end of court battles that have gone on for six years and attracted national and international attention.

“But, we’re not in control; they have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court,” Hensley said.

Bill Fleischaker, of Joplin, who is among several attorneys volunteering in the case on behalf of the natural mother, said he is “very disappointed” in the appeals court decision.

He said attorneys representing Romero have a 15-day window to decide whether to appeal the ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court.

“I don’t think a decision has been made on whether we’ll seek to have it transferred to the Supreme Court,” he said. “But given the distance we’ve come, it would be unlikely that we would not take steps to get further review at a higher level.”

The decision handed down Monday marks the second time the adoption has been before the Missouri Court of Appeals. If it is appealed, it will mark the case’s second time before the state’s Supreme Court. The Guatemalan ambassador to the U.S. attended earlier Supreme Court arguments.

Hensley said he was especially pleased by the appeals court ruling since the same court, and same three-member panel of judges, had earlier ruled against the Mosers.

The earlier appeals court decision ruled that an adoption approved by Jasper County Circuit Court should be reversed, and the child should be returned to the biological mother. That ruling was appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, which reversed the decision and ordered a new trial.

That case was heard by Greene County Juvenile Court Judge David Jones in a two-week trial. In a 62-page ruling, the court terminated the biological mother’s parental rights on the grounds of “abandonment, neglect and parental unfitness.”

Hensley at the time said the ruling negated arguments on behalf of the mother contending that she lost custody because she was an immigrant in the country illegally.

The child was 11 months old when the mother was arrested in May 2007 in an immigration raid while she was working at a Barry County poultry processing plant. She left her child with her brother, who turned him over to a sister, who then left the baby with a Carthage couple who agreed to the adoption by the Mosers.

The mother’s parental rights were terminated after the court agreed with arguments that the child had been abandoned because the mother made no attempt to maintain contact with or provide for the boy during the two years she was incarcerated, even though she had the means to do so.

Though much of the argument focused on the time when the mother was in jail, the court also found that she left the child in the hospital after giving birth, that she failed to keep doctor appointments or obtain baby formula or other help available for the child, and that she made no arrangements to ensure that the infant would be cared for in case she was arrested. The court found that the biological mother was an unfit parent and that a change in custody would not be in the best interests of the child.

Age of child

THE COURT RULING OBSERVED that the child, 11 months old when initial adoption proceedings were filed, soon will be 7 years old.

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • 042314 Rec funding Build a Lion_72.jpg Missouri Southern students to vote on new fee, going smoke-free

    Students at Missouri Southern State University will vote next week on whether they support creating a fee that would fund athletic and recreation projects. During the annual student senate-sponsored spring election, students also will be asked whether they support a completely tobacco-free campus.

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • New Kansas gun law draws support, some reservations

    At John’s Sports Center in Pittsburg on Thursday, firearms manager Adam Gariglietti said he supported Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to sign a bill that will ensure it is legal across the state to openly carry firearms. But, he offered some words of caution. “It’s great that he signed the bill,” Gariglietti said. “But at the same time, common sense goes a long way.”

    April 24, 2014

  • Baxter Springs chili feed to raise money for family of girl facing surgery

    On a Sunday morning in February, 9-year-old Izzy Morris woke up her mother complaining of a headache. Teresa Morris gave her daughter medicine. But an hour later, the headache had worsened. “She was in a lot of pain and started screaming and yelling uncontrollably,” Morris said.

    April 24, 2014

  • Carthage budget committee hears proposal for water, sewer rate increases

    The proposed budget for the Carthage Water & Electric Plant, including increases in water and wastewater rates, dominated discussions Thursday night as the Carthage Budget Ways and Means Committee continued its review of proposed city budgets for the fiscal year starting July 1.

    April 24, 2014

  • 3 To Get Ready

    Three things coming your way in Friday’s Joplin Globe.

    April 24, 2014

  • Severe storms possible this afternoon

    A broken line of thunderstorms will continue to push east across Southeast Kansas and Southwest Missouri this afternoon, bringing a limited tornado risk, and elevated risks for hail and wind damage.

    April 24, 2014

  • Missouri lawmakers file three resolutions calling for impeaching governor

    While Gov. Jay Nixon was in Nevada, Mo., on Wednesday, a Missouri House panel led by Republicans began hearing arguments on three measures calling for impeaching him. Nixon has downplayed the proceedings as a legislative “publicity stunt.” One resolution, sponsored by Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, is critical of Nixon for waiting several months to call special elections to fill three vacated House seats.

    April 23, 2014

  • r042314psumove2.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Moving day for biology and chemistry building at Pittsburg State

    They didn’t all go two-by-two, and the person in charge wasn’t named Noah, but nonetheless, critters of all shapes and sizes were on the move Wednesday. Students, volunteers and staff members helped Delia Lister, director of Nature Reach, relocate everything from a pair of prairie dogs to a vocal macaw named Charlie so that Heckert-Wells Hall — the biology and chemistry building where they are housed on the campus of Pittsburg State University — can undergo a $4.4 million transformation in the coming months.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos 1 Slideshow

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3 To Get Ready

    Three things coming your way in Thursday’s Joplin Globe.

    April 23, 2014