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Friday, 2 March, 2001, 03:28 GMT
Net twins 'should return to US'
The internet twins: Belinda and Kimberley
The twins are at the centre of several custody battles
A United States judge has ruled that the twin baby girls at the centre of a transatlantic internet adoption row should be returned from the UK to their home state of Missouri.

The judge in the case in St Louis has disclosed no details.

But lawyers for the birth mother, Tranda Wecker, said after a hearing that the judge had ruled that custody issue should be decided in the US.

Vicky and Richard Allen
The Allens: He has been accused of child abuse
The eight-month-old girls are in the custody of social services in Britain, after they were adopted twice over the internet, first by a California couple and then by a Welsh family.

Ms Wecker says she wants her daughters back and denies consenting to their sale.

Four different people and couples are battling for custody of the twins. One of them, the American Richard Allen, was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of child abuse.

State care

The two girls, named Kiara and Keyara by their natural parents, were born in St Louis in June. Their parents separated soon after.

The girls' natural father, Aaron Wecker, has begun legal action to obtain custody of the twins, alleging they were abducted.

Tranda Wecker
Tranda Wecker: Wants the girls back
Last month, another St Louis judge granted him temporary custody, but Mr Wecker gave that up on Thursday. His lawyers said he wanted to speed up the process of getting the case brought to Missouri.

Ms Wecker blames her troubled relationship with her estranged husband for her decision to put the girls up for adoption, and is now trying to get them back.

The children are being looked after by social workers in Flintshire, north Wales since January when it emerged that Alan and Judith Kilshaw had acquired them from a California-based internet baby broker last year, adopted them in Arkansas and brought them back to Britain

A British judge has ruled that Kimberley and Belinda - as they are known in the UK - will stay in state care while courts consider the case.

Legal battles

The Kilshaws have vowed to do all they can to keep the babies.

Social worker and baby
UK social workers took the children into care
As have Richard and Vickie Allen, an American couple who claim to have adopted the twins and challenge the legality of the adoption by the Welsh couple.

But their chances could have received a blow on Wednesday, when Mr Allen was arrested in California on suspicion of child abuse.

Two teenage girls who had worked as babysitters for the family alleged that he had molested them.

Mr Allen is not the only one who has had brushes with law recently.

Last week British police questioned Mrs Kilshaw on suspicion of theft of travellers' cheques. She was released without charges.

Ms Wecker is being investigated for fraud, accused of continuing to claim child welfare payments after handing over the twins.

She has already admitted using the address of her aunt when the Kilshaws adopted the girls in Arkansas to bypass a state law that says the birth mother or the adoptive parents must live in the state for at least 30 days before the adoption.

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See also:

01 Mar 01 | Americas
Net adoption: Child abuse arrest
01 Feb 01 | Americas
TV truce for net twins couples
26 Jan 01 | Americas
US couple fight for internet twins
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