How NOT to do an adoption

How NOT to do an adoption

The recent story about a missing baby in San Antonio reads like a textbook example of how NOT to do an adoption.

The baby’s name is Yaritza. She was born in late February to a single mother of two from Crystal City, who had reportedly been thinking about adoption for awhile.

From the news reports, it appears her mother, Justine Torres, felt unable to parent a third child alone but was undecided about whether or not adoption was the best decision for her child.

Did she call licensed adoption agencies in San Antonio? Looks into foster care alternatives? Visit a crisis pregnancy center for options counseling? Meet with an attorney to discuss her legal rights?

Unfortunately, it seems that she did not. Perhaps she was scared, or maybe she didn’t have a phone or a car or she wasn’t sure where to turn for help, other than her family?

How Yaritza Got Lost

How-not-to-do-an-adoptionFOX29 reported that Justine Torres had mentioned her dilemma to a relative, who told her about a San Antonio woman who wanted a baby.

Did this woman who wanted a baby adequate resources to provide for a child? Was she and everybody in her home emotionally stable? Had they been through the required background checks, fingerprinting, physicals and a homestudy? Had anyone in the house ever been investigated for or charged with abuse or neglect? Had an adoption professional checked out the home thoroughly in advance to ensure that it was suitable for childcare?

And did Justine Torres even know to ask? These answers are all too unclear.

However, what is known that that following baby Yaritza’s birth, her mother and the San Antonio woman who wanted a baby apparently drew up (or downloaded) some sort of guardianship letter.

Justine signed it in front of a notary public, and her newborn baby went off with the stranger.

Was a social worker monitoring the new home to ensure that the child was being well cared for? Was Justine getting counseling to help her address her post-birth needs and emotions? Was Medicaid duly informed that the child was not in her mother’s care? Was the woman who wanted a baby taking any steps to honor the parental rights of Yaritza’s only legal parent(s)?

Again, there’s just no way of knowing.

Yet we do know that Justine Torres was able to see her baby girl on her first-month birthday. We don’t know if she noticed anything amiss, but we do know that shortly afterwards, she told the stranger who was caring for her child that she wanted her baby back.

Yaritza’s caretaker told her no, she couldn’t reclaim her child, and she reportedly ended contact with Justine, blocking her social media accounts in hopes that out of sight would mean out of mind.

But it didn’t exactly work out that way.

How Yaritza Got Found

Justine went to the media and to the Heidi Search Center, reporting her child missing. The resulting news stories will remain online, forever documenting this child’s troubled start in life.

Within days, Baby Yaritza had been located and she is now reportedly on her way back to her mother’s care, having spent the first two months of her life in another home.

Some might say “all’s well that ends well,” but has it? (And will it?)

Will Yaritza now form a successful attachment to the indecisive mother who wasn’t sure she initially wanted her? Will Justine be able to care for three children successfully? Will she end up calling the San Antonio stranger back and turn Yaritza back over if she cannot? How will Yaritza understand why the first few months of her life unfolded as they did? Will Yaritza’s father learn of Justine’s actions from the media and opt to take his child out of her care, as a result? Will Yaritza’s siblings bond successfully with the new baby, or resent the attention and resources she requires in a family where presumably both are already somewhat limited?

Only time will tell. (One can only hope.)

Any adoption worth doing is worth doing the right way and for the right reasons, as Abrazo always tells its clients. A temporary guardianship letter does nothing to ensure any child’s permanent well-being, and a loving, responsible mother does not send her newborn home with anyone who cannot be permanently trusted.

If You Need Help

If you are a mother who is considering adoption for her child, please go about it the right way, for your own protection, as well as for the safety of your child.

Call Abrazo, any hour of the day or night, by dialing 210-342-5683 (or in-state, call 1-800-454-5683.) Or email us ( or visit our website, at We can provide you with free counseling, maternity support, foster care options, medical care, transportation, legal consultations, and more.

Abrazo is a private, nonprofit adoption agency licensed by the State, so all of Abrazo’s adopting families have already completed in-depth background checks, fingerprinting, adoption training and homestudies in order to adopt. Whenever a child goes home with one of our families, we make sure we know how that child is doing, and both the birthfamily and adoptive family have full access to ongoing post-adoption support.

We trust that Justine Torres thought she was doing the best she could for her child, both when she sent Yaritza off with the San Antonio woman who wanted a baby and when she decided to take her back (something that could not have happened in any legally-executed adoption arrangement involving a licensed Texas adoption agency.)

We know that adoption is never an easy decision, especially when a mother is trying to do it all on her own. We know adoption is not always the right choice for every mother and child, yet neither is single parenting if you know you cannot possibly meet the needs of all your children. We hope that if Justine ever does consider adoption again in the future, that she’ll contact an ethical adoption agency like Abrazo first, to get help she can trust.

And we hope, too, that any other parent out there who may be considering adoption will learn from this story how not to do an adoption– because any baby as precious as Yaritza deserves for the first chapter of her life’s story to be much more secure, and far less traumatic.

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