In a small community in southwest Missouri, one little boy is torn between two families, two worlds.
He even has two identities.
His Guatemalan birth mother named him Carlos. To his adoptive parents, the couple he calls mommy and daddy, he’s Jamison.
And today his future is more uncertain than ever.
Will the 4-year-old boy remain Jamison and stay in Carthage with Melinda and Seth Moser, who adopted him more than two years ago and cared for him a year before that?
Or will he go back to his birth mother, Encarnacion Bail Romero, an illegal immigrant who last held him on May 22, 2007, the day she was picked up in an immigration raid at a Barry County poultry plant. He was just 7 months old.
It’s an emotional case that wedges the boy, who likes to play ball and watch Nickelodeon, between federal immigration laws and state adoption laws. Where what’s legal may clash with what some people view as what’s right. It’s also a case bringing nationwide attention to the plight of children who get tangled in the system when moms or dads are detained or deported.
A Missouri Supreme Court opinion last week only delayed the final answer.
In a 4-3 decision, the high court said the Jasper County Circuit Court violated state law when granting the adoption. The high court ordered another trial where both sides will get a chance to show the child should be with them.
“I think these are all tough cases,” said Emily Butera of the Women’s Refugee Commission in New York. “I really feel for everyone involved; there is no good outcome.
“The only thing we can hope is that the publicity raised by this case will help fix the problem so other families won’t go through the heartbreak these families are going through.”
Bail was in jail when her son first went to stay with the Mosers, who have no other children. Bail’s lawyer said that when the couple filed for adoption, Bail didn’t understand the severity of what was happening. The document explaining how her parental rights would be severed was in English. She speaks Spanish.
Two days after Bail received those documents, a judge gave custody to the Mosers. The adoption became final a year later.
After the first hearing in October 2007, Bail sent a letter from her jail cell to the Mosers’ attorney that said she didn’t want her son adopted. Bail told reporters late last year that she wanted her son back.
“He has my blood,” she said through a translator. “One day he is going to grow up and know who his mother is.”
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