Anamarie's Return

updated 02/26/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/26/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

She's only a toddler, but Anamarie Regino may sometimes have felt as if the weight of the world was on her shoulders. Last summer, in a case that generated national headlines (PEOPLE, Sept. 11), child welfare authorities in New Mexico removed Anamarie, who turns 4 in April, from her home in Albuquerque and, citing concerns over her health, placed her with a foster family. At the time, Anamarie stood 3'6" and weighed 117 lbs., three times the average for a girl her age. Her parents, Adela Martinez-Regino, 32, an operations supervisor for Mesa Airlines, and Miguel Regino, 55, a retired cabinetmaker, protested that they had done nothing wrong in raising their only child. "If we're guilty," says Adela, "we're guilty of giving her too much love."

Indeed, doctors who examined Anamarie could not explain why she was gaining so much weight, although X rays taken when she was a year old and weighed 52 lbs. showed that her bones were the size of a 5-year-old's. (At birth she weighed a modest 6 lbs. 13 oz., but within two months she started putting on weight rapidly.) Last November, after 11 weeks with the foster family, during which she was kept on a strict diet and lost 10 lbs., Anamarie was allowed to return home.

Two months later a children's court judge dismissed the case against the Reginos altogether. Since being returned to her family, she has lost 10 more lbs., despite growing three inches in the past six months. She seems delighted to be back with her parents, who are keeping her on a diet drawn up by a state nutritionist, and who still bristle at the thought that some outsiders consider them inept parents. "We get judged all the time," says Adela. "We got judged before and we're still getting judged."

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