Thursday, January 27, 2011

Missouri court rules in controversial adoption case

During his State of the Union speech on Tuesday (which we’ll hopefully review in more detail tomorrow), U.S. President Barack Obama touched on immigration reform. While Obama and opposition legislators wrangle over the subject a recent Missouri court decision demonstrated the shortfalls of contemporary immigration policy.

Hours before Obama’s address the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that state adoption laws were not followed in the separation of an undocumented immigrant mother and her now four-year-old child. "The trial court plainly erred by entering judgment on the adoption petition and terminating Mother's parental rights without complying with the investigation and reporting requirements," wrote Judge Patricia Breckenridge in the tribunal’s majority opinion. Another justice, Michael Wolff compared the splitting of Encarnacion Bail Romero and her son, Carlos, to the biblical tale of Solomon and added that the “passage of time does not make a wrong a right.”

The court’s ruling does not permit the return of Bail Romero with Carlos but does send her case back to a lower court for a retrial. The case raised attention among several immigrants rights groups as well as the Guatemalan government whose consulate submitted written arguments to the court.

The details of the Bail Romero case contains plenty of twists and turns, but a UPI article boiled it down to the following:
Bail Romero, a Guatemalan, was arrested in an immigration sting in 2007, six months after her son was born. She was jailed as an illegal immigrant who used a stolen Social Security number to get work.

Her family took care of the baby, attorneys said, but eventually went to a couple who offered baby-sitting. When they asked to adopt the boy, Bail Romero refused.
The couple introduced the boy to Seth and Melinda Moser, who took him in and eventually filed for adoption.

Bail Romero, in prison at the time, did not object to the Mosers' custody, their lawyer said. She said she did not understand the situation and never approved an adoption.
Family reunification may be a sticking point in negotiations between Congress and the White House in the creation of a comprehensive immigration reform. Hopefully a fair compromise can be reached so that other immigrants, illegal or not, can avoid the same ordeal faced by young Carlos Bail Romero.

Image- Missouri News Horizon via (November 2010 image of Encarnación Bail Romero).
Online Sources- CNN, UPI, AP, Los Angeles Times

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