Note: There are no Federal laws against child trafficking, so although the news story reports that the three were charged with child trafficking, it is likely that they were charged under a state law prohibiting "baby buying."
All three accused are reportedly natives of Mexico--the man reportedly being in the US legally, but the two women reportedly being in the US illegally.
According to Nadine Triste, director of the Center for Immigrant and Community Integration, ignorance of differences in the Mexican and US legal systems may have led the three to believe that they had gone through proper legal channels to effect the adoption of the baby boy. According to court reports, the birthmother and adoptive father had filled out papers giving custody of the child to the adoptive parents, and they had had these papers notarized.
"Completely different," said Nadine Triste. "In Mexico, notarios, most of the time are lawyers. When you go into a notario, you go through a long process of legalizing documents and when you complete that, you have a valid legal document... The same can't be said here, and many immigrants fall victim to that."
According to court documents, the adopting couple had also previously sought legal counsel about adopting, but had not gone that route as "the process was too lengthy."
According to the newspaper account, the normal legal process for adoption would also have been difficult to complete given that two of the accused are in the US illegally.
Refusing to speak of specifically of this case, but commenting in general on adoptions in which one or more members of the triad are in the US illegally, the judge in the case said:
"One of the things done on adoptions are background checks on the adopting parents. I doubt very seriously that someone here illegally would go through the adoption process, but let's assume they did. That information [from a background check] would probably be uncovered and reported and I doubt very seriously the adoption would go through."
The would-be adoptive mother and the child's mother,once they have been processed through the legal system, may face deportation back to Mexico.
The fate of the child, who is currently in protective custody in Colorado and who is a US citizen because of his US birth, has not been decided. A guadarian ad litem, a person appointed by the court to "stand in the place of the parent" to advocate for the best interest of the child, is expected to be appointed.
Adding to the difficulties of the case is the allegation that the actual father of the child is not the father listed on the birth certificate. If the father should come forward and ask for custody of the child, it might be granted. Otherwise, the courts will determine whether the child will eventually accompany his mother back to Mexico after she serves a likely prison term should she be convicted of the charges against her, or whether he will remain in the US in a foster or adoptive home.
"Sold" Baby Now in Hands of Officials, The Pueblo Chieftain, 3/4/07
Update involving beginning of trial:
Details in child-trafficking case aired in court, The Pueblo Chieftain, 4/6/07