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U.S. State Department officials have declined to pursue the case of a Guatemalan child who was kidnapped from her home by a Guatemalan adoption agency and legally adopted by a Missouri couple six years ago. The State Department informed Guatemala’s government that because the two countries had not signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction at the time the child was abducted in 2006, the federal government lacked jurisdiction over the case, and that the girl’s biological mother, Loyda Rodriguez, will have to pursue her claim in state court.

Ms. Rodriguez seeks the return of her daughter, Anyeli Hernandez Rodriguez, now 7 years old, and argues that the adoption of Anyeli by her American adoptive parents was invalid because of the abduction. Additionally, she argues, the documentation used by the Guatemalan adoption agency to process the child through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was fraudulent. Among the fraudulent documentation used to bring Anyeli to the United States was a Guatemalan passport, which was used when Anyeli exited Guatemala.

The court in Missouri will likely make a determination on whether or not to return the child to her biological parents based upon the best interests of the child standard, which could make it difficult for Ms. Rodriguez and her husband, Dayner Orlando Hernandez, to reunite with their daughter, due to the length of time Anyeli has lived with her adoptive parents. Had the State Department taken jurisdiction over the case under the Hague Convention, Anyeli would likely have been returned to her parents after a relatively lengthy application process was completed, which is why the State Department’s failure to pursue Anyeli’s child abduction case was such a significant development in the case.

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