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Baby Traders Court-Bound

The trans-Atlantic tussle over a pair of American-born twins is going to court, where a British couple will have a chance to fight to keep the children they found through the Internet and hastily adopted in Arkansas.

Authorities in North Wales took the girls into custody Thursday, but did not say why.

"I don't think the British government or the social services have the right to interfere and take the children," said Judith Kilshaw, 45, who adopted the children with her husband Alan, 47.

A California couple which had begun to adopt the babies is seeking their return, and the natural mother has also said she wants to get the children back.

Alan Kilshaw said the case would be heard Tuesday in Birmingham.

"I don't see that necessarily as a damaging step ... as it will give breathing space for a court to consider a right outcome to the case," Kilshaw told a news conference Friday afternoon.

The legality of the Kilshaw's adoption is being challenged by a California couple, Richard and Vickie Allen, who say the 6-month-old girls were taken from them while they were in the process of adopting them. Both couples paid thousands of dollars to an Internet adoption service.

The natural mother, Tranda Wecker, 28, of St. Louis, said in a television interview Thursday that she wants the babies back.

Alan Kilshaw accused authorities of failing to notify him and his wife before they took the girls, named Kimberley and Belinda, and said he could not get an explanation of why social services intervened.

"The only thing they will say is that they feel they were justified," he said. "I think it is reasonable to ask these people for reasons."
Philip McGreevy, chief executive of Flintshire County, where the Kilshaws live in north Wales, said a judge would take up the case before an emergency custody order expires on Jan. 26.

"The twins are safe and well in the council's care," he said in a statement, which also called the seizure "a careful, considered and proportionate response."

Alan Kilshaw says he
doesn't believe the birth
mother's decision to give
the babies to himself and
his wife, Judith, had
anything to do with money.

"Further legal steps are now in hand which will place all of the issues, including the complex legal, practical and international dimensions, before the High Court," the statement continued.

The Kilshaws promised to put up a fight.

"All the legal advice I've had is that we will be successful. I can't say how quickly we will be successful, but I'm confident at the end of the day we will win," Alan Kilshaw said.

But the case's outcome was far from clear, as the FBI continued investigating and British authorities planneto examine whether the twins brought into this country on six-month tourist visas would be allowed to remain. The Allens also planned to challenge the fast-track Arkansas adoption.

The case has garnered headlines on both sides of the Atlantic, with British tabloids labelling the Kilshaws the "baby trade couple." They paid $12,000 to an adoption agency, A Caring Heart, and the Allens paid $6,000.

"There was no selling, there was no trading, there was no illegal trafficking," said Jennifer Coburn, spokeswoman for Tina Johnson, who operated A Caring Heart.

"Ms. Johnson is a legitimate adoption facilitator who provides a service for adoptive parents wishing to locate children who are being placed for adoption," Coburn said.

Politicians here have expressed outrage about the case Prime Minister Tony Blair has called it "deplorable" and it has raised difficult questions about the regulation of adoption, particularly through Internet agencies and internationally. Private adoptions are illegal in Britain, but about a hundred children are brought into the country each year without clearing formal adoption procedures.

The Kilshaws were clearly shaken by protracted battle and the children's dramatic, late-night seizure from a hotel near the Welsh town of Mold.

"I can't stop thinking about them," said Judith Kilshaw. "They were always clean and well fed. I couldn't have given them more if I'd given birth to them myself."

She said the infamy she and her husband had gotten in the press has forced them to consider leaving the country.

"I see my future now abroad because I'm the most hated figure in England," Judith Kilshaw said. "I can't live a normal life. I have got no friends left."

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