crimesider

Missouri couple ordered to return adopted child to Guatemala

48 Hours, Adoption Wildcard, RKF, 010125
AP/CBS
AP / CBS

(CBS/AP) GUATEMALA CITY - A Guatemalan judge has ordered a U.S. couple believed to be living in Missouri to return their adopted daughter to her birth mother.

The human rights group Survivors' Foundation, which released a copy of the ruling Tuesday night, claims the girl was born in 2004, kidnapped in 2006, and taken out of the country under a new name two years later.

The group says the girl was stolen by a child trafficking ring and put up for adoption.

Judge Angelica Noemi Tellez Hernandez confirmed Wednesday that she ruled in favor of the biological mother.

Tellez's ruling also says Guatemala's government must cancel the passport used to take the girl out of the country. It further orders that if the girl is not returned within two months, Guatemalan authorities should solicit help locating the girl from Interpol, the international police organization.

Nine Guatemalans, including a judge, have been charged in the case. The Survivors' Foundation doesn't allege the U.S. couple knew the girl had been kidnapped. The court identified the couple as Timothy James Monahan and Jennifer Lyn Vanhorn Monahan of Liberty, Mo., a suburb of Kansas City.

Attempts to reach the couple for comment were unsuccessful.

The ruling says the U.S. parents can appeal the decision in Guatemalan courts and asks the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala to help locate the girl.

Guatemala's adoption system once sent more than 4,000 children to the United States each year. But adoptions were suspended in 2007 amid widespread claims of kidnapping and fraud by suspect adoption brokers. Guatemala started a small, reformed program of international adoptions later but the United States has declined to participate.

Norma Cruz, of the Survivors' Foundation, said she believes this is the first time a Guatemalan court has ordered a child to be returned on the grounds that an adoption was fraudulent.

"We're working on two other cases and we hope for the same result," she said.