Texas boy missing 8 years to remain in foster care

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Associated Press

Posted on March 28, 2012 at 1:31 PM

HOUSTON (AP) — A judge has ruled that a Houston boy who disappeared as an infant eight years ago and who was recently found will remain in foster care while officials determine whether he should be reunited with his parents.

State District Judge Mike Schneider agreed Wednesday with a Child Protective Services recommendation that 8-year-old Miguel Morin should remain in the state's care at least until a May 16 hearing.

The judge also accepted a CPS plan to have Miguel and his parents, Auboni Champion-Morin and Fernando Morin, undergo therapy separately to see if the boy is ready for a reunion.

Miguel has been in foster care since authorities found him living with his godmother elsewhere in the state. Police say she abducted him in late 2004 when he was 8 months old.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A Houston boy who disappeared eight years ago and was found earlier this month could soon be reunited with his parents, or he might remain in foster care.

A Texas judge is expected to make a decision Wednesday on the fate of 8-year-old Miguel Morin after a court hearing.

The boy has been in foster care since being found after police arrested a family friend. Police say the friend, who is the boy's godmother, took him in late 2004 when he was 8 months old and had him living with her in the East Texas town of San Augustine.

At the hearing, child welfare officials are to discuss whether Miguel should remain in foster care or begin to have visits with the parents, said Estella Olguin, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services in Houston. Auboni Champion-Morin and Fernando Morin, both 29 of Houston, are seeking to regain custody.

A psychotherapist who has been meeting with Miguel also could testify about how the boy might react once informed about his situation.

Olguin said CPS has made a decision on what it thinks is best for Miguel but would not disclose it ahead of Wednesday's hearing.

"His parents are saying they want what is best for Miguel and they would do what is necessary," she said.

An attorney for the parents did not return phone calls from The Associated Press on Tuesday.

DNA tests released last week confirmed Fernando Morin is Miguel's father. Test results on his wife are expected to be released at Wednesday's hearing.

The Morins have not met with Miguel since he was found but at a hearing last week, they asked state District Judge Mike Schneider if they could meet with the boy but not reveal their identity to them. The judge ordered the couple to be psychologically tested before ruling on their request.

Olguin said the Morins' four other children, who are between the ages of 7 and 14 and are living with another couple, could also be discussed Wednesday. She said confidentiality issues prevent her from detailing why the kids are not living with their parents.

Champion-Morin had previously implied her four other children were living with her and her husband.

Miguel's godmother and former baby sitter, Krystle Tanner, has been charged with kidnapping along with her mother, Gloria Jean Walker. The two remain in the San Augustine County Jail.

Officials have previously disclosed in court that Miguel, in interviews with child welfare authorities, said his name was Jaquan and identified Tanner as his mother when shown a picture of her.

The long-dormant case got new life last summer when Tanner took the boy to a hospital for a leg injury. When she couldn't provide his name or a Social Security number, hospital staff contacted child welfare investigators who eventually were able to link Tanner to the 2004 Houston case.

Child welfare officials have said the Morins were uncooperative with investigators when the boy initially was reported missing. The parents deny the allegations.

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