CARTHAGE, Mo. — Arguments in an adoption case involving a Carthage couple and a child born to a Guatemalan mother in the country illegally may be heard by the Missouri Supreme Court.
A petition filed on behalf of Seth and Melinda Moser is asking Missouri’s highest court to hear the issue after a motion for rehearing was turned down by the Southern District Court of Appeals.
“If they grant the application for transfer, the whole thing starts over in the Supreme Court,” said Joe Hensley, a Joplin attorney representing the Mosers.
The appeals court on July 21 reversed a ruling that terminated the parental rights of the natural mother and granted the Mosers’ adoption of the child on Oct. 9, 2008. The youngster was just under a year old when he began living with the couple Oct. 5, 2007.
He was seven months old when his natural mother, Encarnacion M. Bail Romero, was jailed after her arrest at a Barry County poultry processing plant in May 2007.
After serving a two-year sentence on immigration related crimes, she is being allowed to stay in the country to try and regain custody of the child. She is to be deported after that issue is resolved. If she is successful, the Mosers contend it would harm the child because he would be separated from the only family he knows and be taken into a country where he doesn’t know anyone, and doesn’t speak the language.
The mother’s parental rights were terminated after the circuit court agreed the child had been abandoned because the mother made no attempt to maintain contact or provide for the child while in jail. But the appeals court found the lower Jasper County court lacked authority to consider the adoption and to terminate the mother’s parental rights.
The Mosers also have filed circuit court motions asking they be named guardians of the child, to ensure they can maintain custody while the matter is before the Supreme Court.
Bill Fleischaker, a Joplin attorney who has worked with Seattle attorneys who represent the birth mother, has filed a motion in the guardianship application.
“The only thing we’ve done thus far is file make an entry advising the court that we are an interested party and asking that we be notified and given an opportunity to be heard before any order is issues,” he said.