Laura Lugo was expecting a routine prenatal exam. Instead, she says the doctor drugged her and performed a Caesarean section.
"I heard the baby cry, but I never saw him," she said.Lugo says that two conniving sisters won her friendship, then lured her to a clinic just across the Mexican border and snatched her child from her uterus without her consent.
Two years later, Lugo is moving closer to gaining custody of the boy. But there is another woman who claims to be his biological mother: Paulyna Botello, who raised him until recently.
As U.S. and Mexican courts wade into a tale worthy of the biblical King Solomon, the boy remains in foster care. At issue is whether he was kidnapped or given away in an under-the-table adoption gone awry.
On Thursday, state Judge Robert F. Barnes declared Lugo the mother, based on DNA tests indicating a 99.11 percent probability that the child is hers. Barnes also said Lugo can continue her weekly visits with the boy.
Barnes has yet to rule on Lugo's request for custody. He's waiting for results of more DNA tests demanded by Botello's lawyers.
Botello, 33, and her sister, Rosa, are wanted in Mexico on child abduction charges. They have not been charged in the United States. Paulyna Botello is in jail pending a Sept. 29 extradition hearing. U.S. authorities consider Rosa Botello a fugitive.
Lugo, 27, said she has seen her son just twice since his birth. She plans to rename him Jorge Daniel if she gains custody and is preparing to explain the whole story to him someday.
"It's going to be difficult for him," she said. "Everybody will always be pointing fingers at him. Me being the kind of person I am, I will never hide it from him."
Lugo and Botello - Mexican citizens living legally in Brownsville - each claim they gave birth to the boy in September 1992.
Lugo said the Botello sisters befriended her during her pregnancy in order to steal her baby.
One day when she was near term, Lugo said, the sisters invited her to go with them to a clinic in Matamoros, across the Rio Grande from Brownsville. She agreed when they promised to stop at Wal-Mart on the way.
She thought that she and Paulyna Botello, who had been wearing maternity clothes for a few months, were going to get a checkup.
As she slipped into unconsciousness at the clinic, Lugo said, she realized that the doctor was preparing to perform a C-section.
Unable to resist, she awoke to find her abdomen scarred and her fetus gone. Nurses later told her that Rosa Botello had taken the baby, Lugo said.
The Botellos say Lugo is lying.
Paulyna Botello is the biological mother of the child now known as Rafael Olvera Jr., according to her lawyer, Felix Recio. He said Lugo traded her baby to Rosa Botello in exchange for payment of her bill at the clinic - then changed her mind about the swap later.