Tug-o-War Over Twins

06/05/1998 at 12:00 AM EDT

A pair of infant twin girls born in Missouri were sold for adoption -- twice -- over the Internet and are now the center of an international custody battle between the American and British couple who paid for them. Alan and Judith Kilshaw, who live in Wales, are in possession of the 6-month-old girls, whom they have named Kimberley and Belinda. Meanwhile, authorities in the U.S. are searching for reputed baby broker Tina Johnson of San Diego, who allegedly arranged the deals, initially to the Americans Vickie and Richard Allen for $6,000 and then to the Kilshaws in Wales for twice that amount. They are also said to be questioning the birth mother, Tranda Wecker, 28, a divorced hotel receptionist from St. Louis. She reportedly accompanied the Kilshaws to Southern California, where they allegedly removed the girls from the home of Vickie and Richard Allen, who for two months had raised the children, under the names of Kiara and Keyara. The two sets of prospective parents, and their respective attorneys, appeared on Wednesday morning's edition of the "Today" show and behaved civilly, yet both couples maintained they had the right to raise the children, who were shown smiling as the Kilshaw's attorney told the Allens that he sympathized with their situation. The Allens's attorney, meanwhile, said on "Today" that because the twins were born in the U.S., he believes the courts will insist that they be returned here.

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