Parents Visit Overweight Child

ByABC News

Aug. 31, 2000 -- The parents of a 3-year-old girl who weighs 120 pounds have had their first visit with the child since authorities removed her from their home last week.

“She seemed very happy. It was nice. She was, of course, happy to see us and we were happy to see her,” mother Adela Martinez told ABCNEWS’ Good Morning America today. “We played together and had a nice time.”

Anamarie Martinez-Regino weighs 120 pounds and is 3 ½ feet tall — three times heavier and 50 percent taller than the average 3-year-old, according to the girl’s physician, Monika Mahal. The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department took Anamarie last week after Mahal recommended she be removed from her parents’ custody because of their seeming inability to control her weight.

Martinez could not confirm if her daughter had lost any weight yet, although she said authorities told her the girl had lost about four pounds.

During Wednesday’s visit, which lasted more than an hour, Martinez said she tried to explain to her daughter what was happening.

“She still is 3 years old, so you tell her, and she takes it in, but five minutes later she’s on to her next subject,” Martinez said.

Custody Hearing Set

A custody hearing has been set for Sept. 5. The family’s attorney says he hopes Anamarie will be returned back to her parents then, although that is not the usual course of action.

“Well, I’ve seen it happen. It is unusual at that early stage, but I’m optimistic that it can and might happen,” attorney Troy Prichard said on Good Morning America.

In reccommending that Anamarie be taken away from her parents, her doctor said the child’s condition was life-threatening.

According to court documents reviewed by The Associated Press, the parents put her “at grave risk” by repeatedly feeding her solid foods while she was on a doctor-ordered liquid diet, a social worker said in court documents.

Martinez and Miguel Regino, Anamarie’s father, say their child has been on a liquid diet since June 10, except for one time when a relative accidentally fed her solid food.

But social worker Liza Perez said in an affidavit that the parents admitted giving Anamarie solid foods while she was on a strict liquid diet limited to 550 calories a day.

Prichard questioned the accuracy of the affidavit, saying, “There’s obviously a lot of factual allegations in that affidavit, some of them are true some of them are not.”

Normal at Birth

Anamarie was born April 11, 1997, and weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces, according to the affidavit said. By March 31, 1998, she was 50 pounds, 9 ounces, and her height was 33 inches. She was placed on a diet andreferred to endocrinologists.

In August 1999, she weighed 97 pounds and slept sitting up because she was unable to breathe while lying down, the affidavit said.

It says Anamarie has been tested for a variety of conditions but doesn’t specify the cause of the weight gain.

Martinez and Regino say the state has unfairly labeled them unfit to care for her. They say they’ve done nothing to hurt their daughter and that her obesity is caused by a medical condition doctors have not yet been able to diagnose.

“I saw a child being pulled away from the only parents she’s known. The only remembrance she has is them pulling her away and us standing there crying because we felt so useless. We couldn’t do anything, we couldn’t stop them,” Martinez told Good Morning America on Monday.

”I’m going to fight for her,” Martinez said. “What else can I do? She’s my baby. I just have to remember, I’ll get her backsomeday. I’m just trying to clear my head of the last memory I have of her being pulled kicking and screaming from that room.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events