Updated July 18, 2012: A win for a Carthage, Missouri couple in court means an illegal immigrant loses custody of her son.
The adoption is not finalized but today's court ruling terminated the parental rights of the child's biological mother, finding she abandoned and neglected her child and was an unfit parent.
It began in 2007 after Encarncion Romero of Guatemala was in an illegal immigration raid in Carthage and lost custody of her seven month old, Carlos Encarnacion Romero.
The infant was moved from place to place until he was taken in by Seth and Melinda Moser.
The Moser's have raised the son they call Jamison since then and were first granted adoption a year later. The boy's birth mother appealed after getting out of federal prison and a circuit court overturned the adoption.
After a trip to the state supreme court the case was sent back to local courts for a new adoption hearing.
On Wednesday a Springfield judge terminated Romero's parental rights in a 64 page ruling. Romero's attorney says he hasn't decided if he will appeal the ruling.
The case has nationwide implications because its ruling will determine whether or not illegal aliens have the same legal rights as U.S. citizens when it comes to child custody issues while in jail.
Updated January 25, 2011: The Missouri Supreme Court says the state failed to follow its laws in terminating the mother's parental rights, but today's decision does not automatically return the child to the mother.
Instead, the court ordered the state to follow proper procedures and hold a new trial on whether the mother's parental rights should be terminated.
The Moser's attorney today expressed confidence that they will ultimately prevail.
The attorney for the Carthage couple who adopted the son of a Guatemalan illegal immigrant says the courts decision a new trial will be held is "encouraging for us".
"We're happy that we get another opportunity to fix whatever problems the court perceives there were," says Joe Hensley, the attorney for Seth and Melinda Moser. "(It's) basically a do-over and the Mosers retain custody."
The attorney for Encarnacion Romero, the biological mother of now four year old Carlos, is also "pleased with the outcome".
"(My) client is looking forward for an opportunity to go to court to establish her right to have her child returned to her," says attorney Bill Fleischaker. "It would have been nice for the court to set it aside - the district court ruling, and this decision does delay the reconciliation process, but we get to have a fair hearing now."
Fleischaker says "the ultimate goal (for the mother) is to get her child returned". He says he has filed a motion for a visitation and will take whatever steps they can to start the reconciliation process.
Special report aired November 18, 2010: An adoption case in dispute at the Missouri Supreme Court is calling attention to a tragic complication of illegal immigration - the fate of children born in the U.S. when their parents are arrested and to be deported.
A Carthage, Missouri couple is fighting to keep their adopted son. The child was born to an illegal immigrant from Guatemala. The biological mother was arrested in a poultry plant raid and is now fighting to overturn the adoption that occurred while she was in jail.
Look in depth at the case and the debate, but as KOAM's Lisa Olliges explains, it is also the story of a child torn between two families.
Part I - Aired November 18, 2010 at 6 p.m.
Following his biological mother's 2007 arrest in an immigration raid, Carlos Encarnacion Romero, was moved from place to place until a Carthage, Missouri couple adopted the infant.
Part II - Airing November 18, 2010 at 10 p.m.
The Missouri Supreme Court must decide the fate of Carlos, now age 4 - to stay with the Moser family in Carthage, Missouri, or return him to his biological mother from Guatemala by overturning the adoption that occurred while she was in jail.
Updated November 10, 2010: The Missouri Supreme Court is now weighing the facts of a case that will decide the fate of a 4 year old Carthage boy.
Attorneys argued the appeal of his adoption before the justices and a packed courthouse.
Attorneys for the biological mother claim the law was not followed strictly and should be when a fundamental right like motherhood is at stake.
Attorneys for the adoptive parents contend the boys mother, an illegal immigrant, abandoned him and not just because she was in jail.
A year passed before Encarnacion Romero's rights were terminated.
Her attorney, Chris Huck, says there should have been an investigation to see if Romero was a fit parent before that happened.
The attorney of the boy's adoptive parents, Rick Schnake, says all attempts to reach Romero were foiled by her choice to use an alias even in jail.
Huck says the government determined which name she used there. He contends she never abandoned her child and documents prove she made calls looking for him, while attorneys for the adoptive parents contend Romero could have called Melinda and Seth Mosher of Carthage, but did not. And she also made no written attempts to parent him while in jail.
"Even a child who can't read would appreciate having card or letter from the parent read to him," says Schnake, the attorney for the Mosher's. "If she could afford to buy stamps she could afford to send a little child support - a dime or 20 cents. That didn't happen."
Huck, the attorney for the biological mother, says they have provided an affidavit that includes phone records from the sheriff showing hundreds of calls she made to people she believed had the baby.
Briefs in the case are more than 100 pages long and those lists of phone numbers are actually documents filed outside of the trial case record. So the justices must decide whether or not they will consider them when deciding the case.
It is part of evidence entered by Romero's team, which also contends she did not have adequate legal representation in the case.
Updated November 9, 2010: Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. the Missouri Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a Jasper County adoption case that could have nationwide implications.
It stems from the adoption a child to a Carthage couple after the child's mother was found to be here illegally from Guatemala.
After an immigration raid on May 22, 2007 at this poultry plant in Butterfield, Missouri, Encarnacion Romero was arrested.
Authorities say Romero had been deported in 2005 and re-entered the country again in 2006.
This raid led to the arrest, prosecution and deportation of dozens of illegal aliens.
Romero's child was adopted by Seth and Melinda Moser from Carthage.
They adopted Romero's son while she was jailed for identity theft following the raid.
The nationwide implication in this case concerns whether illegal aliens have the same legal rights as U.S. citizens when it comes to child custody issues while in jail.
Reported September 23, 2010: The Missouri Supreme Court will hear a Jasper County adoption case that could have nationwide implications.
A Carthage couple adopted a child whose mother was here illegally from Guatemala.
The adoption happened while Encarnacion Romero was in jail for aggravated identity theft after a raid at a southwest Missouri poultry plant.
Seth and Melinda Moser adopted the child nearly four years ago. Now, a Missouri court of appeals has reversed their adoption.
The debate in this case is whether the court had the authority to adopt out the child.