In what is considered to be an unparalleled move, a Guatemalan court order is demanding that the U.S. government return a woman’s stolen daughter, who was later adopted by an American couple. According to the Huffington Post, Loyda Rodriguez Morales has been searching for her daughter for nearly five years after the then 2-year-old was snatched away by another woman and pulled into a waiting taxi.
The Guatemalan court order, which was issued on July 29, has asked U.S. authorities to intervene and return 26-year-old Rodriguez’s daughter within two months. All questions about the court ruling were referred to the U.S. Justice Department, which declined to comment. Signed by Judge Angelica Noemi Tellez Hernandez, the ruling also canceled the girl’s passport and asked the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala for help in locating her.
The U.S. no longer allows adoptions from Guatemala after rampant cases of fraud and charges of baby thefts caused the Central American country to suspend adoptions four years ago. The U.S. State Department, however, is currently assisting with 397 children whose adoptions were in process at the time of the ban. Guatemala was once second to China in quickest adoptions.
After her daughter was taken, Rodriguez posted fliers, tried visiting orphanages to search for the toddler, and even staged a hunger strike. She reported her daughter missing to local and federal law enforcement authorities according to documents by the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, a U.N.-created agency that has reviewed more than 3,000 adoptions completed or in process.
Rodriguez was in tears when she spoke to reporters from The Associated Press recently after the court order became public this past week. "I want it with a lot of decorations. I'm going to buy dolls and clothes so she's not lacking anything,” the mother said of her plans to decorate her daughter’s room. “If she wants to sleep alone, she'll have her room. If not, she can be with her brothers.”
According to David Smolin, an expert in international adoption and law professor at the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S. officials may try to ignore the order issued by the Guatemalan court. “This is the scenario that has made everybody afraid for years,” he said, “the knock on the door from the reporter or whoever.” Smolin said this is the first case he knows of a foreign judge ordering an American family to return an adopted child to her native country.