Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Families Battle For Girl.

Byline: Guillermo Contreras Journal Staff Writer

* N.M. couple, Guatemalan parents both claim custody of 6-year-old

An international custody battle is taking shape in New Mexico, with a 6-year-old girl caught in a tug of war between her Guatemalan parents and a Valencia County family.

Michell Marion Johana Tobar Perez was born in Pajapita, Guatemala, without a lower left leg and with webbed fingers on her right hand.

She was originally brought to the United States on March 4, 1995, for medical care. During the 10 months she spent getting treatment she lived with Don and Rita Naylor near Belen.

She was sent back to Guatemala, but then returned to the Naylors more than two years ago for additional medical treatment.

Last year, the Naylors adopted her.

Her biological parents are fighting the adoption, saying they never gave permission.

And the Guatemalan government, through its consular office in Los Angeles, has intervened, insisting Michell should be returned to her parents.

Michell's biological mother, Doris Magali Perez,, who has been in New Mexico since July, said she had seen her daughter only three times in the past 2 1/2 years.

"I had a lot of trust, and never did I think I would lose my daughter," she said in an interview last week with the Journal and KLUZ-TV, which first aired the story in its Friday newscasts.

"It was a shock for us to find out she had been adopted," Perez said as tears streamed down her face. "All I want is justice. I have faith that I can take my girl to Guatemala."

An attorney for the Naylors said adoption law was followed and the Guatemalan couple is skewing what really took place. …

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