It all started on November 3, 2006 when Loyda Rodriguez and her two-year-old daughter, Anyelí Liseth Hernández Rodríguez, were coming home from a trip to the grocery store in Guatemala.
Loyda was hauling the bags into the house while Anyeli stopped on their front patio to play.Image Credit: Screen Shot/YouTube
Loyda told CNN back in 2012 that it happened in the matter of two short minutes.
“I didn’t realize that a woman was following me. When I entered my house, my daughter stayed on the patio, and that was when she was taken.”
Anyeli had just become another victim of human trafficking, and her parents haven’t been in contact with her since. But they have seen her. She lives in Missouri with her adoptive parents under the name Karen Abigail Monahan.
How is this possible?
According to a 2014 Huffington Post article, Karen’s adoptive parents, Jennifer and Timothy Monahan, adopted her from the Celebrate Children International adoption agency based in Florida in 2008.Image Credit: Screen Shot/YouTube
Celebrate Children International describes itself as “a Christian organization, committed to improving the lives of children and families through promotion of traditional family values, humanitarian aid, and unification of families.” Their website highlights humanitarian aid in both Guatemala and Haiti.
This adoption comes just two years after the Monahans adopted a Guatemalan boy in 2006 through the same agency. As Guernica Magazine reports, the agency already had complaints of unethical business practices lingering over them, but the Monahans shared the same strong Christian values as the agency’s director, Sue Hedberg, and continued on with the process.
Guernica Magazine reports that when the Monahans came across Karen’s picture, they first offered to help her birth mother because the girl appeared to be so “extraordinarily” cared for, unlike the “street children” they saw when adopting their son.
Ironically enough, Guernica Magazine also mentions that it was around 2006 that Guatemala’s International Adoption business started to decline and stories of “baby-snatching and kidnapping” started dominating the local news cycle.Image Credit: Screenshot/YouTube
It was after the Monahans signed on to fully adopt Karen that things start to go awry. Because of the news stories, agencies began taking more precautions like DNA testing used to prove the mother did in fact relinquish the child.
When the woman who put Karen up for adoption was forced to submit a DNA test, it proved that she wasn’t actually Karen’s mother. However, because no came forward to claim her after an extended period of time, the Monahans were able to continue with the adoption process.
On March, 26 2009, when Karen’s adoption story started gaining national attention, Loyda learned it was her daughter that was in the midst of the scandal.
Loyda’s lawyers had been part of the team that helped another set of Guatemalan parents find their daughter, Fernanda, who was kidnapped and adopted by an American couple. It wasn’t known at the time, but the people behind Fernanda’s “adoption” were the same people behind Karen’s.Image Credit: Screen Shot/YouTube
In 2010, two different DNA tests, conducted by independent labs in both the United States and Spain, came back with the same results— Loyda and Karen tested 99.98 percent positive for a maternal match. Those findings helped a Guatemalan judge rule in Loyda and her husband’s favor and demand the child be brought back to Guatemala.
The United States and the Monahans responded to that demand with silence, and to this day the Monahans still have custody of Karen.
With both sets of parents wanting what’s best for the child, Guernica Magazine’s Erin Siegal McIntyre says that what’s best for the child is just has complicated as trying to figure out how Karen got to Florida in the first place.
So far, close to a dozen people in Guatemala have been arrested in connection with this case; some of those people include government officials. The offenses include:
- Dereliction of duty
- Human trafficking
- Falsifying documents
In 2007, over 4,000 Guatemalan children were adopted by families in the United States. In the years following, because of the issues surrounding international adoption, the United States has put a halt on Guatemalan adoptions.
By all accounts, Karen’s case is no where close to being resolved. Karen will turn twelve at some point this year and although she knows she’s adopted, it’s not clear whether she knows she may be a statistic.