A mother or father's parental rights may be terminated by a court of law for neglect, abuse or abandonment of their child. Termination of parental rights requires sufficient due process. One state Supreme Court is set to decide whether or not a court has the power to terminate the parental rights of an illegal immigrant under the basis that imprisonment constitutes abandonment.
One Guatemalan citizen was arrested in a May 2007 immigration raid and pled guilty to aggravated identity theft in October of 2007. In the same month that the Spanish speaking mother entered her guilty plea, papers written in English authorized the adoption of her 7-month-old son.
The couple that found the adoptive parents was the same couple that the mother's family met through their church and asked to care for the child temporarily. In October of 2008, during a hearing to terminate her parental rights, a family court determined that her imprisonment constituted abandonment. Custody of the child was given to the adoptive parents.
The Guatemalan ambassador to the U.S. appeared on behalf of the mother in the Missouri Supreme Court hearing contesting the termination and adoption decision. The Guatemalan ambassador argued, "She lost her parental rights without her knowledge and without her consent."
The adoptive parents of the child argued that it was in the best interests of the child to remain with them, the people who have loved the child as their own for the past three years. The mother's attorney reminded the court of court precedent holding that the "best interests of the child" determination favored the conservation of the parent-child relationship.
As of Tuesday, November 9, 2010 no decision had been made.
Source: Columbia Missourian "Missouri Supreme Court hears illegal immigrant child custody case" Alysha Love 11/9/10