A British woman who bought a pair of twin babies over the internet is pleading for them to get in touch as she reveals her dying ex-husband is desperate to see them before he passes away.
Judith Kilshaw was plunged into financial ruin alongside her then-partner Alan after launching a legal battle to adopt Kiara and Keyara Wecke in 2001 after they had bought them online for £8,200.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline from her home in Wales today, Judith revealed Alan is now fighting for his life and dreams of seeing the siblings who were returned to America after they lost their fight.
Kiara and Keyara, who have been renamed, were given a new set of church-going adoptive parents in America. The girls are now 18 and are said to be ‘thriving’ as students, studying social sciences at university.
Today Judith told MailOnline she still thinks of the twins as ‘part of the family’ and reveals she misses them greatly.
Judith, who says she is glad that the girls are excelling with their church-going adoptive parents in America, also revealed that Alan is in hospital life-threatening pulmonary fibrosis and would ‘love to see the twins before he dies’.
Judith Kilshaw, the British woman at the centre of a high-profile custody battle in 2001 has spoken to MailOnline about the twins she still thinks of as ‘part of the family’
Kiara and Keyara Wecker hit headlines in 2001 when Alan and Judith Kilshaw (pictured with the children) tried to buy them for £8,200. Right: The girls on their 16th birthday
Ready for university: The twins, pictured together on social media, have grown into ‘fine young women’, says their adoptive mother
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Judith said: ‘If they came to see Alan before he died it would be highly unique, a very nice gesture, but I can’t see it. Though they could if they wanted to.
‘I’d like them to get in touch with me and Alan, that would be a nice touch, to say thanks for trying to help us, sorry it didn’t work out. It would be some recognition, wouldn’t it, really?
‘I was prepared to do a lot for them but didn’t get the chance. I was hoping they’d take up law or be a doctor or something like that.’
Alan and Judith Kilshaw are pictured together with Judith’s new husband Stephen Sillett shortly ahead of their marriage in 2009
The first time she learned of the twins, Kiara and Keyara Wecker, going to university was when she read about it in the press, she said.
‘I’m pleased that the girls have gone to university,’ she said. ‘Obviously I would have preferred them to stay in Britain. At least they’ve come out of it pretty unscathed and they’re doing well.
‘They’re coping well and seem well-adjusted if they’ve got that far in life. They’d have gone to university if they stayed with us in Britain, that’s for sure.’
Missouri-born twins Kiara and Keyara Wecker were just six months old in 2001, when the Kilshaws, of Buckley, North Wales, tried to buy them over the internet for £8,200.
The deal was already completed and the twins taken back to Wales when the Kilshaws realized a California couple had already paid to take custody of the kids through an adoption agency – all thanks to a scam perpetrated by their birth mother.
The FBI got involved, sparking an international legal battle that finally ended with the children being raised by a third set of foster parents in Missouri.
Now the sisters, who were brought up knowing about their extraordinary story, have turned 18 and are studying social sciences at a university not far from their home in another state after moving.
Judith said that she and Alan still see the twins as part of their family, and still believe that the adoption was wrongly overturned.
‘Of course we still miss them,’ she said. ‘As far as I’m concerned, they are still part of this family as the adoption was turned over by dubious means.
‘If someone takes your name, then the adoption is overturned and the twins are taken away from you by dubious methods, to me that adoption still stands legally.’
She added: ‘The chance to speak to them will come in time. The older they get, the more they will wonder about what went on and sooner or later they might get in touch.
‘This story brings it all back. I don’t think about them every day any more because life goes on, you have other things to think about.
‘But at Christmas at times like that, you do then, don’t you. You think about what might have been, but as my mother says, ‘if’ is a big word.’
In 2000, Kiera and Keyara were first adopted by US couple Richard and Vickie Allen (pictured), who said they had paid £4,000 for the children through an adoption agency
Judith, who starred with Alan in a television programme called At Home With The Kilshaws that provoked public anger, said that the twins would have had a better life with her in Britain.
‘Our farmhouse would have given them a better life than America in a lot of respects,’ she said.
‘It’s a safer environment, in my book, and there are still a lot of racial problems out there. The twins are mixed race.
‘We’d have been just as good parents as the new foster parents.’
The Kilshaws, who maintained they were unaware that the twins had already been through two sets of parents, had been dealing with Internet adoption broker Tina Johnson
She has struggled to move on with her life, she said. ‘I haven’t made a shrine to them or anything. I don’t go in for that. I keep my thoughts in my head. But if I met them, I’d say I’m pleased they’ve done well.
‘I’m pleased they’ve gone to university. I hope they do well and study well.
‘They’re going to the same university, so they must be close. I’m pleased with how their life has gone up to know.’
Asked whether she or Alan would pay for the twins to visit them in Britain, Judith said: ‘I don’t know how their finances are. I can’t pay for them. I’m struggling myself and Alan hasn’t earned any money since he’s been in hospital.’
In 2009, Judith, then 55, left Alan and her two sons and married ‘toyboy lover’ Stephen Sillett, 42, who she met in a nightclub.
At the wedding, Alan gave his ex-wife away to Stephen and wished them well.
‘It’s a bit unusual, but there are probably quite a lot of husbands who’d like to give away their ex-wives, so perhaps I’ll start a trend,’ said Alan at the time.
Judith and Stephen are still together.
Alan and Judith Kilshaw speak to reporters outside their farmhouse in Buckley, north Wales shortly after the twins were taken out of their custody