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U.S. Marine Couple Accused of Abducting Afghan Child

The fate of a toddler is at the center of a series of legal proceedings because two sets of parents are vying for her custody. In 2020, Virginia residents Joshua and Stephanie Mast were granted an international adoption under false pretenses, giving them custody of a young girl who was living in Afghanistan at the time. Now the Afghani couple that was raising that young girl is suing the Masts to get her back.

Back in 2019, Joshua Mast was stationed in Afghanistan when U.S. forces raided a compound. After several lives were lost in the violent raid, a baby was pulled from the rubble and was immediately rushed to a military hospital for lifesaving treatment.

At that point, Mast began using his connections as a military attorney to lobby for the child to be medically evacuated to the U.S. for further treatment. Mast reached out to contacts in the White House and enlisted the help of Kimberly Motley, an American attorney in Afghanistan, to issue additional appeals. Mast did all of this despite having been previously briefed by the State Department that its priority was reuniting the child with an Afghani biological relative.

The Red Cross informed the State Department that a paternal uncle had been located and that he and his wife were excited to raise the then-five-month-old girl. However, Mast’s attorney filed an emergency injunction to prevent the U.S. Embassy from delivering the child to the couple. Eventually a federal judge ruled against the Masts, and the child was reunited with her biological family.

Then Mast and his wife successfully petitioned a local judge in Virginia to grant an international adoption order, even though the child was still living in Afghanistan with her biological family. Next, Mast used his connections to make arrangements for the Afghani couple and their child to emigrate to the United States. Once they made it into America, however, Mast and his wife instead took custody of the girl themselves, justifying the seizure based on the court order, which they concealed from the parents for their arrival.

In September, the couple filed suit against Mast and several other defendants, claiming that their daughter was unjustly stolen and that the adoption order was illegitimate. The Afghan couple’s attorney said, “The playing field was not level. [They] were forced to navigate a complex and confusing system in a foreign country in which they had just arrived, after having survived the greatest trauma of their lives.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

In our attempts to do good we must continue to seek the needs of our neighbors over our own desires; otherwise, we might deceive ourselves into doing great harm instead.

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