Guatemalan Girl Stuck in Gut-Wrenching Adoption Scandal

A Guatemalan court has ordered a 7-year-old returned from her adoptive U.S. parents after determining she was snatched by local kidnappers five years ago. If U.S. intervenes, it'll be a first for international adoption.

By Jorge Rivas Aug 12, 2011

Loyda Rodriguez Morales’ 2-year-old daughter was kidnapped four years ago in Guatemala. The 26-year-old mother has been searching frantically for her daughter ever since. After years of posting missing-child flyers and even organizing a hunger strike to gain access to view the country’s adoption records, she found out her now 6-year-old daughter is living with a doctor and his wife in Liberty, Missouri.

Morales was granted access to look through the National Adoptions Council files where she and her brother sifted through records for four consecutive days, the Associated Press reports.

"I felt like my heart was going to leap out. I knew it was her," Morales said about seeing an image of her missing daughter.

A Guatemalan court has declared the young girl stolen and has ordered the American parents to return the child within two months.

Survivors Foundation, a human rights group that filed the court case for Rodriguez, believe the child was taken by a child-trafficking ring and put up for adoption with a new name. Guatemala once ranked second in the number of child adoptions to the U.S. because of its quick adoption procedures. But the Central American nation, home to an estimated 13 million people, suspended adoptions in 2007 after widespread cases of fraud, including falsified paperwork and charges of kidnappings.

The adoptive parents in the U.S. have not been implicated in any wrongdoing.

If U.S. authorities intervene to return the child, it would be a first for any international adoption case, experts explained to the Associated Press.

It would also create a new nightmare for the U.S. parents and the child, who turns 7 on Oct. 1. It’s a complicated issue, considering Morales has been living with her own nightmares since her 2-year-old girl was taken.

The U.S. family has issued a statement through a public relations agency: "The Monahan family will continue to advocate for the safety and best interests of their legally adopted child. They remain committed to protecting their daughter from additional trauma as they pursue the truth of her past through appropriate legal channels."

Morales is already thinking about the decorations in her daughter’s bedroom.

"I want it with a lot of decorations. I’m going to buy dolls and clothes so she’s not lacking anything," she told the AP. "If she wants to sleep alone, she’ll have her room. If not, she can be with her brothers."