SALEM -- A Marion County judge Thursday approved the juvenile court's decision to send a 6-year-old Salem girl to live with her ex-con father in Mexico.
The girl is currently in foster care because of her mother's ongoing drug addiction. The state of Oregon plans to send her to Mexico, to be reunited with her biological father. Alfonso Pantoja-Samano served prison time in Oregon for assault before being deported.
In court Thursday, the girl's attorney said the 6-year-old wants to be with her father.
The judge said once the child is placed with her father, Mexican child welfare authorities will monitor her safety and well-being, but she acknowledged it wasn't a perfect solution.
The girl's grandmother Kerrie Lachuga has been fighting to keep her in Oregon. She worries about the young girl being sent to make her new home in Mexico.
"This is just wrong. This is just so wrong," Lachuga said after Thursday's court decision.
Despite Lachuga's pleas, the girl's father said his daughter belongs with him.
In a phone interview from Mexico last week, 35-year-old Pantoja-Samano said, "I'm ready to do whatever I need to, in order to get my daughter back and there won't be anyone who can stop me from getting what I want."
Pantoja-Samano has cared for the girl in the past and vowed to stay away from drugs and alcohol. He said he has a stable home now and the girl will attend school.
"We support the judge's decision today. These are emotional, complex cases and that is why we rely on the expertise of judges, as a third party, to hear all of the information (and) to make a decision," said Gene Evans with the Oregon Department of Human Services.
Last week, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and three state legislators asked child welfare workers to review the case.
KGW has not revealed the girls name to protect her identity.