Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Immigration Stealing Children: Maybe Thousands

(CNN) -- The boy has two names.

His biological mother calls him Carlitos, but he's Jamison to the couple that adopted him.
The two sides are locked in a heart-wrenching legal fight over custody of the 4-year-old boy. He's caught between federal immigration law and state adoption law -- and between two families. But the

Missouri Supreme Court will soon decide his fate.

The court could keep him with his adoptive parents, Seth and Melinda Moser, a couple from Carthage, Missouri who have raised the boy since shortly before his second birthday. The Mosers say they played by the rules in adopting the boy and provide him with a loving, stable home.

Or the court could return the boy to his biological mother, a native of Guatemala who says she never agreed to her son's adoption. She was separated from her son when he was about six months old, after federal agents imprisoned her as an illegal immigrant who used a stolen Social Security number to work at a poultry processing plant.

Seth Moser says he and his wife are the only parents the boy has ever known. They heard him speak his first words, watched him take his first steps.

"God has given us a little boy and the responsibility of taking care of him and loving him, and that's all we've done since the first day we've had him," he says. [DUH...I think it was immigration, not God!]

"It's almost like preparing for someone in your family to die," he says. "How do you explain to your 4-year-old that there's an issue and that he has to go with this other person he doesn't even know?"
The boy speaks English, like the Mosers. His biological mother, Encarnacion Bail Romero, speaks Spanish.

She didn't see her son during her nearly two years behind bars, but the boy is her flesh and blood, she argues. She says her child was taken away without her consent. How can a court not allow her to get her child back, she asks?

"I was very worried about my son, and today I'm still desperate," she says in Spanish. "I want to be with my son."

The federal government plans to deport Bail Romero to Guatemala, where her two other children live, but authorities have put that on hold until the courts resolve the question of her son's custody.

Lurking behind the immediate issue of where the boy will live is the larger question of what happens to children when their parents are detained as illegal immigrants.

There may be hundreds or thousands of cases in the United States where immigrant children are taken from their biological parents, says Marcia Zug, a University of South Carolina law professor who has researched the topic.

Because records of many such cases are sealed, and because many immigrants can't afford to hire lawyers, Zug estimates that she has found only a small fraction of such cases.

"I have 20 documented cases, but I think that's just the tip of the iceberg," she says.

In some cases, state welfare workers facilitate the adoption of illegal immigrants' children, acting on what they believe to be the children's best interest, she says. That motivation resonates with the Mosers, who wonder what kind of future would await in Guatemala for a boy who speaks no Spanish.

The Missouri Supreme Court could rule any day on the legality of the boy's adoption; a lower court already has ruled that the adoption was invalid.

"No one knows for sure how many have lost their kids because of immigration issues," says Bail Romero's attorney, Omar Riojas.

The path that took the boy from Bail Romero to the Mosers has enough twists and turns that one of the attorneys involved in the case compared it to a soap opera.

The story begins about six months after Bail Romero gave birth.

In May 2007, federal immigration agents raided the poultry processing plant where Bail Romero worked. Rather than deport her, the government charged her with aggravated identity fraud for working under a stolen Social Security number.

With Bail Romero in prison, her brother and sister cared for the boy, at first. They sought help in caring for the child from an education worker who put them in touch with a clergy couple who offered baby-sitting services, attorneys in the case say.

The couple asked to adopt the boy, but Bail Romero said no, Riojas says. Rebuffed, the couple introduced the boy to the Mosers. The clergy couple eventually put the boy up for adoption -- something the boy's biological mother says they lacked the legal ability to do.

The Mosers soon asked a judge for temporary custody, says their lawyer, Richard Schnake. Bail Romero - in prison at the time - did not contact the Mosers of their attorney or object to them having custody, he says.

"I didn't know who that family was," she says.

Bail Romero says she did not fully understand what was going on and certainly did not give her blessing for them to adopt her son.

After a judge granted the Mosers temporary custody, they waited a year -- rather than the six month minimum stipulated by Missouri law -- before asking to adopt the boy, Schnake says.

In October 2008, a judge approved the adoption, ruling that Bail Romero had abandoned her child by not trying to contact the Mosers for a year. Bail Romero says that because she doesn't speak English and was left with no way to ask for help to plead her side.

In addition to the clergy couple not having the authority to put up her son for adoption, Riojas has argued that Bail Romero was deprived of due process because she had no consular access or access to legal documents in her language. He also says an attorney who represented her at one point did not represent her well.

After the adoption went through, the Mosers legally changed the boy's name to Carlos Jamison Moser.
In February 2009, however, Bail Romero got out of prison and started fighting to re-gain custody. An appeals court sided with her in July. It concluded that the adoption was invalid.
The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in November.


In September 2007, Ms. Bail said, the aide visited her in jail to say that an American couple was interested in adopting her son. The couple had land and a beautiful house, Ms. Bail recalled being told, and had become very fond of Carlos.

“My parents were poor, and they never gave me to anyone,” Ms. Bail recalled. “I was not going to give my son to anyone either.”

An adoption petition arrived at the jail a few weeks later. Ms. Bail, who cannot read Spanish, much less English, said she had a cellmate from Mexico translate. With the help of a guard and an English-speaking Guatemalan visitor, Ms. Bail wrote a response to the court.

“I do not want my son to be adopted by anyone,” she scrawled on a sheet of notebook paper on Oct. 28, 2007. “I would prefer that he be placed in foster care until I am not in jail any longer. I would like to have visitation with my son.”

Ms. Bail said she had asked the public defender who was representing her in the identity theft case to help her determine Carlos’s whereabouts, but the lawyer told her she handled only criminal matters. “I went to court six times, and six times I asked for help to find my son,” she said. “But no one helped me.”

Ms. Bail got a Spanish-speaking lawyer, Aldo Dominguez, to represent her in the custody case only last June. By the time he reached her two months later — she had been transferred to a prison in West Virginia — it was too late to make her case to Judge Dally, Mr. Dominguez said.


Anonymous said...

This is terrible, and the foster parents claiming to be the parents saying that God gave them the little boy is a ridiculous statement,Maybe through them God gave love to the boy but they do not have a right to keep him, he is not their child, his mother never gave him up, she is from a very poor country and came to the Us illegally most likely for survival reasons reasons and couldn't get here the right way(legal route)eat or die that is how it is for most illegal immigrants, but to keep her and detain her for the amount of time they did is just wrong she had a baby to care for, and no way did she give up her child or consent to an adoption, The whole thing is wrong and stanks exploitation of the mother and child and child stealing, just because she was here illegally or any other illegal immigrant with children does not give anyone the right to take their child/children and claim them as their own, it also seems like a violation of human rights as well. So sad so so sad.

Anonymous said...

Bail Romero served hard time in Federal prison for identity theft but the United States government steals the identities of adopted children every single f*cking day!!!!

Mirah Riben said...

Excellent point. And then they stole her child, not just his identity!

And children of immigrants are being denied citizenship [per The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (the DREAM Act)] unless of course they are adopted by Americans!

Anonymous said...

How would you feel if it was your identity she stole. Wasn't the first time she has been caught in the US illegally, and she didn't have any problem abandoning two children back home in Guatemala. You guys need to get real. This is her "anchor baby". Her meal ticket. Born in the US and qualifies for all kind of freebies coming from your tax dollar.

Mirah Riben said...

It's the christmas GRINCH!

Breaking the law is NOT cause to have your child ILLEGALLY adopted.

Anonymous said...

It's worse. The Moser's were found unfit to be foster parents before the birth mother was even picked up in the raid, due to his criminal history and known use of illict drugs, and the fact that the adoptive mothers family had a known incestuous child molester (her own brother). But apparently living in a basement with a child molester nearby isn't as bad as being an immigrant.

You can read the appellant brief here:


RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget