Today’s post, the second in a series, will take a closer look at a very interesting adoption case out of Missouri. Specifically, the Supreme Court of Missouri was called upon to decide whether to restore the parental rights of a woman who was detained and subsequently incarcerated following an immigration raid and whose then six-month old son was purportedly adopted without her consent during this time.
Please see “Parental rights restored in controversial adoption case before Missouri Supreme Court” for more information.
Post continued …
Supreme Court of Missouri
After the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that the adoption by the Mosers was invalid, the couple appealed to the Supreme Court of Missouri.
Here, the Mosers argued that the lower court had correctly terminated Romero’s parental rights based on the fact that she had effectively abandoned her son by virtue of her lengthy lack of communication.
Encarnacion Bail Romero, however, argued that the adoption was invalid because she was denied due process. Specifically, the adoption took place while she was in prison, a place where she was not provided with adequate legal representation, access to legal documents in Spanish or the services of the Mexican consulate. She also asserted that she never provided consent for the adoption of her son and did not understand all that was unfolding.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court determined that since the lower court failed to abide by the proper procedural steps, Romero’s parental rights were unlawfully terminated and the adoption was therefore invalid.
“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. “The trial court’s judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights, allowing the adoption to proceed without Mother’s consent to the adoption, and granting of the adoption, although supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence on the record, is reversed.”
Interestingly, while the court’s ruling restored Romero’s parental rights and enabled her to seek custody/visitation, it did not return the child to her. Instead, the court remanded the case back to the circuit court “for a new trial in which Adoptive Parents and Mother will have the opportunity to present evidence on all claims in all counts of the petition that pertain to Mother.”
While all seven of the Supreme Court justices were in agreement that Romero’s parental rights were violated, they were split 4-3 on whether the boy should be returned to her custody.
This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …
Disputed adoption gets new hearing (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)