Mexico gripped by custody case after identity mixup

Laurent Thomet
A topsy-turvy international child custody saga ended when a Mexican judge allowed a teenager to travel to Texas with her mother, a month after sending the wrong girl to Houston (AFP Photo/Robyn Beck)

Mexico City (AFP) - In a custody case gripping Mexico, a Texas woman had an emotional reunion with a teenager believed to be her daughter after authorities forcibly sent the wrong girl to the United States.

Dorotea Garcia, who flew in from Houston on Tuesday, said she embraced 13-year-old Alondra in the western state of Michoacan, eight years after her then husband took her daughter away.

"It was great, the best chemical response. We couldn't help but feel the impulse to run into each other's arms," Garcia told reporters after leaving a Michoacan court early Wednesday.

They met in court in Los Reyes to see the same judge who erroneously sent another child to Houston in April, even though the girl and her real parents insisted she was making a mistake.

DNA tests later proved it was the wrong Alondra and she returned to her family in the central state of Guanajuato after spending four days in Texas.

Garcia had identified the wrong black-haired girl because she shared a scar between the eyebrows with her real daughter.

Seeking to avoid another embarrassing mixup, Judge Cinthia Elodia Mercado said a DNA test is being conducted, even though the family and the girl herself say it was the right Alondra this time.

The mother and girl plan to travel to Houston together once the DNA tests confirm her identity. Results are expected by Friday.

"There is nothing definitive yet, but for me, it's a temporary triumph, for a few days," Garcia said.

"But I am sure. My heart is telling me and God is letting me know, I'm going home holding my daughter by the hand."

- 'Missing mother's love' -

The custody battle began in 2007, when Alondra's father brought her to Mexico from the United States. Garcia requested help from Mexican authorities to get her back.

The father, Reynaldo Diaz, brought the girl to her aunt's house in Michoacan this week so she could finally be reunited with her mother.

"I'm sad for everything that has happened," Alondra Garcia told the US Spanish-language network Univision this week.

"I was happy with my dad. But at the same time I felt like something was missing. I was missing my mother's love," she said with tearful eyes, adding that she was not angry at her father.

Dorotea Garcia said she would withdraw charges against her ex-husband at their daughter's request.

Michoacan prosecutors and the National Human Rights Commission have opened separate investigations into the actions of authorities after the wrong Alondra was sent to Texas.

Alondra Luna's family has threatened to take legal action following their ordeal. Police had dragged the girl out of her school and put her in a patrol car in a video that went viral.

"They took me away from my parents. An injustice was committed," Luna, 14, told Excelsior newspaper's television channel.

"It's very hard to forget everything that happened."