"At the same time, the child may have U.S. citizenship because when U.S. parents adopt a child and bring that child to the U.S., that affects U.S. citizenship automatically. So among other things the citizenship would have to be judicially attacked, as well as the underlying adoption."
He also said that Interpol would not have jurisdiction over this case.
"Interpol is not going to go to the U.S. and detain this child and return the child to Guatemala," he said. "Any non-U.S. law enforcement agent would not have jurisdiction to execute laws in the U.S."
Coffey said that child custody battles like this cost many thousands of dollars to play out in court and can take months, but more typically years.
"With each month that passes, any effort to separate the girl from the couple that believed they properly adopted her and provided a home within this country becomes more damaging to the child, and certainly U.S. court is not going to ignore the wellbeing of the child," he said.
Guatemala's Corrupt History of Adoption
At a peak in 2007, the U.S. adopted 4,726 children from Guatemala, according to the U.S. Department of State.
That year, in the raid of the Casa Quivira orphanage, 46 children intended for American families were seized by Guatemalan government officials, and at least five women were found who had been issued false identities to obscure their true relationship to the children they delivered to the orphanage. Amid concerns about widespread corruption and fraud in adoptions, Guatemala suspended new international adoptions.
In November of 2009, Guatemala announced plans for a pilot adoption program. Initially, the U.S. submitted letters of interest in the program, but it later withdrew its interest over concerns that previous corruption linked to Guatemala's adoptions had yet to be addressed.