Over twenty years ago, a woman and her husband were involved in ‘the first story to break the internet’. Judith Kilshaw, now Sillet, with then husband Alan, tried to pay to adopt two baby girls from America.
They paid an agency £8,200 to adopt the babies, who they renamed Kymberley and Belinda, and flew to America to meet the girls. However, they soon realised they were not the only parents who had paid for the children.
The girls had been born to Tranda Wecker, who named them Kiara and Keyara, reports WalesOnline. The 28-year-old was already a mother to five children when she put the girls up for adoption at four months old. However, Judith and Allen realised that they were not the only couple to adopt the girls.
They were adopted by Richard and Vickie Allen, a Californian couple who agreed to pay £4,000 for the babies. They had been placed with the family for several weeks before their mother made one final visit. She took the girls “out for the day” but never returned.
By this point, Tranda had received a better offer, from the Kilshaws, of £8,200. The Kilshaws paid this money to an agency, believing it was fees for the adoption.
Alan and Judith Kilshaw flew to San Diego on December 1, 2000, where they met the babies for the first time and took them back to their hotel before they planned to fly home from Wales. However, it didn’t take long before they found out they weren’t the only hopeful adoptive parents.
Speaking about the ordeal on This Morning in 2019, Judith told her side of the story, and said: “In America the law is different, they have a cooling off period so they can place the child with a couple and I think it is something like 60 days and on the 59th day they could go I’ve changed my mind, and there is nothing you can do. She told them she wanted them for the weekend, she would bring them back there wasn’t a problem, the Allen’s said ok, I don’t suppose they were very happy but they let them go for the weekend, and during that weekend she placed them with us.”
According to reports, during that weekend, Vickie Allen’s brother tracked down the Kilshaws and demanded they give the girls back. The Kilshaws quickly packed up and went to Arkansas where the adoption process was completed in a five-minute hearing, then took the twins (renamed Kymberley and Belinda) back to their home in Buckley, Wales.
When they were back home in Wales, Alan, a former solicitor, decided he wanted to warn others against adopting a baby this way after the debacle that they dealt with, and he went to the press with his story. His actions backfired, and within days social services were alerted to the case. Under an emergency protection order, Kiara and Keyara were taken from their adoptive parents after a tense three-hour standoff and placed into care on January 19, 2001.
In the weeks that followed the FBI was involved in looking into how the girls had been sold online to two different couples, while Tony Blair promised to ban the “deplorable” babies-for-cash trade.
Meanwhile, the Allens begged Tranda not to go through the courts and to return the babies to the California home where they’d spent a third of their young lives. They even appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show where they confronted the Kilshaws, who also wanted the girls back.
A court in Missouri awarded custody of the twins to Aaron Wecker, their biological father who said Tranda had neglected his daughters by trying to sell them over the internet. Tranda herself even attempted to get the babies back but was unsuccessful. When the girls were returned to the US they were placed with a new adoptive family and given new identities, which have never been made public.
Judith Kilshaw has been in and out of the public eye for the last twenty years, discussing what life she wished for the girls and pleading with them to make contact once they were old enough to decide for themselves. Judith and Alan split up in 2006 but remained on good terms.
Alan even walked Judith down the aisle as she remarried a younger man called Stephen Sillet in 2008. Alan passed away in 2019, and Judith remained close to him till the end. She told how his dying wish was to be reunited with the girls.
During her appearance on This Morning in 2019, Judith said she decided to stay out of the girls’ lives. She told Eamon and Ruth: “I stayed out of their lives because I wanted them to have a stable upbringing. To reach the age where they knew what was happening and could make decisions.
“I’m not going to force myself on them. It’s up to them. If they want to have contact I’d be willing to meet and talk about the past. I’m not saying come and live with me and be my best buddy, but if you want to know what happened and how it worked out.”
Judith said she would like to know what happened to the Allen family, and it seems she is now due to find out. The scandal will be the topic of a new Amazon Video three-part documentary, which features Tranda Wecker, Judith Kilshaw and Vickie Allen, telling the story from their own point of view. The series is released on Amazon Prime on November 18.