Of all of the stories that have been told up to this point, few have been accurate.
In late September of 2007 Seth and Melinda Moser became aware of an infant who had been abandoned by his family and left with another couple in Carthage, Missouri. Carlos was developmentally delayed, malnourished, and generally in poor health. It was immediately clear he needed someone to reach out and help him.
In order to provide Carlos with the assistance he needed, especially medical care, someone had to retain legal guardianship of him. With a strong commitment to do things right in the eyes of the law, the Mosers sought legal advice. They filed the required documents with the court requesting a temporary custody order, termination of parental rights, and ultimately adoption of Carlos. In mid-October 2007 the Jasper County Circuit Courts ruled to transfer custody to the Mosers. Though the law only requires a 6 month waiting time, the Mosers, still desiring to do things right, chose to give the process a full year before returning to court to have the adoption finalized. In October 2008, the Jasper County Circuit Courts again ruled in favor of the Mosers and granted the adoption of Carlos. His name was legally changed to Carlos Jamison Moser. The family calls him “Jamison.”
In 2009, after her release from prison, the biological mother sought permission from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, to file a late notice of appeal, since the time for appealing the judgment terminating her parental rights and granting the adoption had passed. The Court of Appeals denied permission. She then petitioned the Missouri Supreme Court, which allowed her to file a late notice of appeal.
The biological mother has been represented by a consortium of volunteer lawyers from Seattle, Washington; Kansas City, Missouri; and Joplin, Missouri, all of whom have said that they are representing her without charge. She has argued all along that that a woman should not lose her parental rights because she is an illegal alien—or, in her lawyers’ parlance, “undocumented.” The rhetoric gained her attention from the likes of TheNew York Times, ABC News, and CNN, and it got her support from the ACLU, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Guatemalan Consulate, and groups touting the rights of illegal immigrants.
Only the Mosers argued for Jamison’s best interest.
The case was initially heard on appeal by the Court of Appeals, to which the Supreme Court transferred the case. Following its ruling, the Supreme Court took the case. In a decision handed down January 25, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that there was “clear, cogent, and convincing evidence,” the highest burden of proof in a civil case, to support both the termination of the biological mother’s parental rights and the Mosers’ adoption of Jamison. The Supreme Court, however, reversed the judgment on procedural grounds and sent the case back to the Circuit Court for a new trial.
The second trial took a total of nine days. On July 18, 2012, the Circuit Court again terminated the biological mother’s parental rights and granted the adoption.
There has been much misinformation about this case. The biological mother has claimed at various times that her parental rights were terminated because she is an illegal alien, because she went to prison, because she does not speak English, and other reasons. The case, though, is not about the biological mother’s rights. It is about the child’s welfare.
The Circuit Court’s judgment of July 18, 2012, makes that clear. Here are excerpts from the 62-page judgment. These excerpts put to rest those claims and the completely baseless allegations that Jamison was kidnapped and that the biological mother was not aware of the proceedings and had not been provided due process. In the words of the biological mother’s own argumentthat the proceedings should be open to the press and the public, this allows “public scrutiny” and protects “the integrity of the process and of the Court,” since “Justice is best served when it is done within full view of those to whom all courts are responsible -- the public”:
“The testimony of Ms. Romero . . . is riddled with inconsistencies, nonsensical explanations, and outright lies. Simply put, [her] explanations and excuses to events that are unfavorable to [her] position or that conflict with the testimony of other witnesses are not credible.”
“During the trial of this case, Ms. Romero also claimed that she could not speak English. However, she inadvertently responded to the Court’s inquiry to her at one point in English before it was interpreted to her in Spanish. At another point in the trial, she claimed that she could not read. However, while on the stand, the Court observed that she was reading the documents to herself. Later, Ms. Romero admitted that she could read and write, although it was apparent that her reading and writing skills as well as her English language skills were somewhat limited. Nonetheless, the fact that she could read and write Spanish, speak English, and had access to translators and bilingual individuals throughout the critical time period is clearly opposite the facts previously submitted by Ms. Romero in having the earlier matter overturned on appeal and calls into question her credibility in this matter.”
“The Court recognizes that Ms. Romero’s prior incarceration is not, in and of itself, a ground for termination of parental rights. Similarly, the fact that she entered the country illegally, I not well educated, and speaks Spanish as her primary language, cannot be grounds for termination. . . . Nonetheless, the fact that she was incarcerated shortly after giving birth to the minor child, was not well educated, was not lawfully in the country, and Spoke Spanish as her primary language also does not discharge her from her duties and obligations as a parent to provide the minor child with a continuing financial and emotional relationship, however minimal. . . . However, it is clear to this Court that despite having the means and ability to provide for the minor child’s care and well being, however minimal, Ms. Romero simply chose not to do so and has continued to fail in her obligations as a parent to the minor child in the years that followed.”
“Hospital records show that on October 19, 2006 [two days after the birth] the minor child was brought from the nursery to Ms. Romero to nurse. However, Ms. Romero was missing from her room. Later, the hospital determined that she had left the hospital without notifying staff and without making any provisions for her newborn child. By the next day, Ms. Romero still had not returned . . . . She did not contact the hospital to let them know if she was dead or alive. . . . [A]ll that is known is that Ms. Romero abandoned her newborn son for parts unknown without the slightest regard for his care, safety, or well being. There is no justification for the irresponsibility that was exhibited by Ms. Romero after she gave birth to her newborn child. Sadly, her behavior and lack of caring duringthese first critical hours of his life is consistent with and foreshadows the pattern of abandonment and neglect that she subjected the minor child to in the years that followed.”
“ . . . up until shortly before the minor child’s birth, Ms. Romero was working and had the resources to provide more for him including a crib. She could have also obtained one for free from various agencies. However, she did not do so.”
“After the minor child was born, there was no place for him to sleep so Ms. Romero and the minor child slept on a pallet on the floor . . . . [A Parents As Teachers educator] dropped of a crib because Ms. Romero had not yet obtained a crib even though cribs could have been available to her for free from other sources.”
“ . . . the minor child . . . was not getting proper nutrition as he was being fed whole milk instead of formula. The minor child also had not received the proper immunizations. He was developmentally delayed for his age and was slow both to sit up and to crawl. The minor child also had trouble supporting his head and had poor muscle development.”
“Ms. Romero missed multiple doctor appointments for the minor child even though they were being provided to her free of charge. These missed appointments had a direct effect on the child since the minor child did not receive all of his early childhood immunizations. He also had poor development, folded ears, and a flat head, again evidence of neglect and lack of care, concern, and nurturing on the part of his caregivers.”
“Ms. Romero’s neglect of the minor child was chronic.”
“Despite her knowledge that she could be arrested and deported at a moment’s notice, Ms. Romero made no arrangements in advance to arrange for care for the minor child should those events occur. Moreover, there is no indication that she had set aside any money to provide for his care or transport to Guatemala. Instead, she merely left his care to the hands of fate, well knowing that her other relatives who might assume care for him were financially limited and were also subject to immediate arrest and deportation due to their illegal status in the United States.”
“During her incarceration at Osceola and later while at the federal prison, Ms. Romero did not make a single attempt to contact the minor child or provide for his support, even though she had money in her commissary account to do so. Even after her release from federal prison, Ms. Romero did not attempt to contact the minor child or provide support to him until more than a year later when she sent several notes to him.”
“From August 5, 2007, to October 5, 2007, despite having calling cards, access to a phone, and the ability to send up to three letters per week for free from that jail, she did nothing. This same course of conduct continued while she was incarcerated in a federal prison. There, she worked and earned money for her commissary account. She had mail, and phone privileges. However, she never provided anything to the minor child during this period of incarceration and did not attempt to reach out to him or to check on his well being.”
“ . . . the only facet of the minor child’s life which appeared to interest her was whether or not she could get a U.S. passport for him.”
“ . . . the evidence clearly showed that Ms. Romero knew where the minor child was during her incarceration but that she did nothing to be in communication with him or to provide for his support. Moreover, the evidence also established that she was served with the adoption petition and knew of the Mosers and their attorney. However, even with this information and having the resources to do so, she failed to contact them, inquire about the well being of her son, attempt to contact the minor child, or provide any support to him. Instead, she did nothing.”
“ . . . in the nearly 17 months between her arrest and the finalization of the adoption, Ms. Romero did not attempt any contact with the minor child or attempt to communicate with him through phone calls, letters, drawings, gifts, or support. She simply did nothing to maintain her relationship with him. Ms. Romero is, for all intents and purposes a stranger to the minor child, just as he is a stranger to her. Try as she might, there is no valid excuse for this course of conduct by Ms. Romero.”
“Even after she was released from prison and working full time, Ms. Romero waited for more than a year before trying to contact him or provide support. Even then, her efforts were de minimis.”
“In terms of support or communication, in the past 5 years, Ms. Romero has sent only four brief notes to the minor child, and these notes occurred years after she last saw him. Despite having a full time job and working more than 40 hours a week from $9.00 to $10.77 per hour, and having several thousand dollars in her bank account at any given time, she sent no cards, support, necessaries or gifts to the minor child until June of 2011.”
“Although not entitled to do so, Ms. Romero sought and received child credits for the minor. In doing so, she received nearly $10,000.00 in refunds. This money was sent out of the country to a foreign account. When she finally did send support for the minor child in 2011, she made only token $20.00 payments to him although she clearly had sufficient income and resources to make larger payments on behalf of the minor child.”
“In this case, there were no attempts at repentance other than a few letters and five $20.00 support payments that were made years after Ms. Romero was arrested. For years, she made no attempt to reach out to him or the Mosers although their names and address were in the first paragraph of the adoption petition, as well as the name, address, and telephone number of their attorney. She made no attempt to provide support to him, however minimal, although she clearly had the means and ability to do so. In short, the record is clear that Ms. Romero, for all intents and purposes, abandoned the minor child while he was an infant.”
“The Court is aware that following the initial decision by the Court of Appeals, Ms. Romero demanded that the minor child be immediately returned to her. At that time, she showed absolutely no regard to the impact that her demand for immediate removal of the minor child from the Mosers would have had on her son. Although she has since modified her stance on this and is now amenable to some reunification process, the Court is not convinced that she would be willing to engage in a lengthy period of reunification efforts that would be required. In any event, the biological mother’s cavalier attitude towards this issue is very telling to this Court and seriously calls into question her ability to properly parent and care for the child at this time or in the reasonably foreseeable future. . . . The Court agrees with Dr. Bradford that it could, at best, take years, and might not even occur. These are simply years that the minor child no longer has available to him to be in a ‘holding pattern’ while he waits for the highly unlikely possibility that his biological mother will somehow transform herself into a fit and able parent.”
“Despite [deportation, re-arrest, and imprisonment in the past], shestill does not intend to return to Guatemala and live with her family and her other two children that she has not seen in almost seven years if her minor child is not with her. Instead, if she is deported, she again plans to illegally enter the United States with full knowledge of the risks and consequences she faces. . . . This time, she will also expose her two minor children . . . to these risks. At trial, she admitted that if she was deported, she would again reenter the United States illegally and bring her two other children with her. This testimony speaks volumes to the Court about the suitability of Ms. Romero as a mother to the minor child or to any other child. . . . [I]t is clear that Ms. Romero is well aware that she and her children could be harmed or even killed if she attempts to illegally reenter the United States. . . . Despite these significant risks, she is willing to expose her children to these dangers rather than remaining in Guatemala.”
“Generally, parents in termination actions don’t announce that [sic] their intention to commit future crimes and put their children at risk of harm. However, in essence, Ms. Romero has done just that.”
“ . . . the biological mother is unfit to be a party to the parent and child relationship because of specific conditions directly relating to the parent and child relationship that are of such a duration and nature as to prevent the biological mother from providing for the mental, emotional, and physical needs of the child for the reasonably foreseeable future.”
Seth and Melinda simply wanted to reach out and help a child in need. They never hid the child nor denied anyone to come see the child, though no one ever asked. Their desire was very simple: Give Jamison a home, nurse him back to health, and give him a future. In any other situation the story would have ended there. Unfortunately, it didn’t. There are special interests in this country who prey on situations like this and use them in their attempts to have the courts of this land write law.
Despite the Circuit Court’s strong language, the biological mother continues to assert that her parental rights were terminated because she is an illegal alien and because she claims that she could not communicate with anyone while in prison due to language barriers. On July 18, 2012, the Joplin Globe quoted one of her attorneys as saying that he believed that the decision “was based on a number of factors that were the result of language barriers, cultural differences, the fact that she (Romero) was an undocumented alien and, especially in the early stages, had no understanding of the legal system here in the United States.” The biological mother’s lawyers have said that she intends to appeal yet again.
As you can imagine, getting forced into a battle of this magnitude has been emotionally and financially devastating to the Mosers. While foreign governments and special interests have stepped in to assist in the opposition—and while the biological mother’s attorneys have represented her for free—the financial burden of this case has been left on the shoulders of Seth and Melinda.
It is time for the people of this nation and the world to show them they are not alone. Please send your prayers, kind words and financial assistance their way.
Kind words may be sent to Seth and Melinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.