She was working with a fake Social Security number and while many of the others who were working at the plant illegally were simply deported, Bail Romero was charged with aggrieved identity fraud and put in prison. (For earlier story about this case, see link.)
Her son, born in this country, was six months old at the time, and placed with members of her extended family here, also illegally. But their living conditions were already crowded and when friendly teacher's aide said she knew a couple who could care for him temporarily, a relative agreed. But of course the inevitable happened: they wanted to adopt him. In a story from CNN, they are not named but called the "clergy couple."
Bail Romero spoke no English, she had lousy court-appointed lawyers who spoke only English and were eventually removed from the case. But what is clear is that she never agreed to any adoption. Papers were put in front of her she did not understand, but she knew enough to keep stating that she did not want her child adopted by someone else. Here is what she wrote 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."But you know how it goes in America, the land of the powerful and free? Whoever has the most money wins. Without any legal authority to do so, the "clergy couple," offered the boy for adoption. Of course someone stepped up, Seth and Melinda Moser of Carthage. By fall of 2007, the Mosers had custody transferred to them. In all that I have read about the case, they had to know that during this process that the mother was in jail and not agreeing to having her son adopted. They had to know. Yet they proceeded.
The adoption was finalized a year later. Judge David D. Dally of Circuit Court in Jasper, Mo., terminated Mrs. Bail's rights and charges of abandonment and for making no effort to contact the baby or send financial support while she was incarcerated. While she implored the court not to allow the adoption, he wrote in his decision:
"The only certainties in the biological mothers future is that she will remain incarcerated until next year, and that she will be deported thereafter....Her lifestyle, that of smuggling herself into the country illegally and committing crimes in this country, is not a lifestyle that can provide stability for a child."No mention is made of her objecting to the adoption. It seems to us that the real crime Bail Romero was guilty of was being poor and desperate. She left Guatemala, the scene of more illegal adoptions to wealthy Americans than we can get our minds around--one could call Guatemala a "baby mill" for rich Americanos--and come to this country to make a better life for herself. Most of us would not consider working in a poultry processing plant for below par wages and step up, yet that is what it was for Encarnacion Bial Romero.
Yes, she was breaking our laws, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I, for one, believe that since poor people are pouring into America no matter how we try to stop them, we need to find some humane way to deal with them. Crushing poverty is a world-wide issue, and must be dealt with in a manner that recognizes that we live in a world-wide economy, that we are all our brother's keepers. Poverty alone does not make a mother unfit to raise her own child.
The adoption by the Mosers of Carlos was finalized in October of 2008. They named the boy Carlos Jamison Moser; they call him Jamison. They say they are the only parents he has ever known. They point out he only speaks English. And of course, God is on their side:
"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 had him," Seth Moser told CNN.Five months later, in February of 2009, Bail Romero was released from prison. She immediately started fighting to regain custody. Omar Riojas, her attorney, claims that she was deprived of due process because she had no consular access or access to legal documents in her language, and that the attorneys who were assigned to her were inept. One was removed from the case because he was charged with domestic abuse; the other told her that he only handled criminal cases.
In July of this year, reason and humanity prevailed and the Missouri Southern Appellate Court overturned the adoption. The MoserMosers (I inadvertently typed Monsters) appealed that decision to the Missouri Supreme Court. A hearing took place in November. A decision from the state supreme court is expected soon.
And now of course, they are pointing out that they are the only parents the child has ever known. How that got to that reasoning defies credulity and reality. The boy was in a Skinner box for six months? What about the "clergy couple"? The boy's aunts? And of course, his mother? His real mother.
All this reminds me of the philosophy of so-called adoption expert, Elizabeth Bartholet,** Harvard Law professor who never met a poor child she didn't think would be better off adopted by someone like her. But this case is not an isolated one: There may be hundreds or thousands of cases in the United States where immigrant children are taken from their biological parents, according to Marcia Zug, a law professor at the University of South Carolina. Because records of such cases are sealed, and most immigrants can't afford attorneys, she estimates that the 20 similar cases she has found are "just the tip of the iceberg."
In some cases, state welfare workers facilitate the illegal adoptions, acting in what they believe to be the best interests of the child: a wealthier parent than the natural parent. That motivation works for the Mosers who fear for the life the boy will lead if he returns to his mother, who will be deported to Guatemala once the case is decided. Her two other children--the boy's siblings--are there. illegals
It seems Christmas has no vacation from the horrors of people who will stoop to nothing to take someone else's child. My thoughts and wishes are for this mother, Encarnacion Bial Romero, a brave woman and fighter to the core, to have her child with her soon. The Mosers and all others who do this would apparently have taken Jesus from Mary and Joseph because they had more money, and told themselves they were doing "God's work."--lorraine
* On the issue of attorneys for birth mothers, see: Yes we can reform state adoption laws!
**For more on Bartholet, see sidebar for Mirah's essay (or click here) and our previous post: Adoptive Parents Decry UNICEF's Humanitarian Position about Adopting Overseas.