"Baby Carlos" Adoption Trial Kicks off Next Week

​Some of you have been inquiring about the legal status of Carlos Jamison Moser, the five-year-old boy in Carthage, Missouri, who is the focus of a landmark adoption battle that's been waged over the past four years.

We chronicled the story behind Carlos' adoption case in our Oct. 20 feature, The Battle of Carthage. The case represents a rising trend of undocumented immigrants being separated from their children -- and sometimes losing custody of them -- when they are detained and deported.

The Carthage case, in particular, begs a broader question: should an American-born boy, raised by American, middle-class parents, remain with them? Or should he be reunited with his birth mother who, after the trial, is almost certain to be deported back to Guatemala? Immigration-policy experts nationwide believe the case's outcome will affect the estimated 5.5 million children in the U.S. who are living with at least one undocumented parent.

We originally reported that a two-day trial was to occur in December. But both parties agreed that a four-day trial would be more appropriate. According to Bail's lawyer, the trial will kick off on Feb. 28.

More background on the case, along with a recent clip from ABC's Nightline, after the jump.

Carlos Jamison was born on U.S. soil to a Guatemalan woman, Encarnación Bail, who entered the country illegally a year prior. In 2007, Bail was picked up and detained indefinitely by immigration authorities during a workplace raid, and Carlos, an infant at the time, was passed along by various parties, ending up in the care of Seth and Melinda Moser, a couple who lived just across town from Bail in Carthage.

The Mosers were awarded custody of the baby while Bail was transferred to a federal prison in West Virginia. A year later a circuit-court judge ruled that Bail -- during the time she was incarcerated -- essentially abandoned her child. The judge made the Mosers Carlos' official parents. When Bail returned from prison she appealed the decision.

The case scaled all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court, which last year restored Bail's parental rights, but ordered a new adoption hearing at the circuit court level so that the Mosers could have a renewed shot at pleading their case. The judges also barred Bail from seeing Carlos, her newly restored parental rights notwithstanding.

ABC's Nightline spotlighted the case earlier this month, with Brian Ross reporting. Just as they did with us, the Mosers declined to be interviewed; the segments featuring the Mosers came from interviews previously recorded by ABC's Southwest Missouri affiliate.

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Eleanor Pickron
Eleanor Pickron

Why didn't the mother establish his citizenship as Guatemalan? Wouldn't that have settled the whole matter? I seem to recall US expats having their children established as US citizens. Am I missing something here?


The mother did not abandon her child and she should at least be allowed to visit him while the case is being decided. The child needs to know that both his mothers love him. This will make a difference to him later on. I am a reunited birthmother and I know it has made a difference to my daughter.

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