A U.S. soldier stationed abroad is fighting the battle of a lifetime in an effort to gain custody of a baby that is not biologically his.
Army Sgt. Steven Garcia, 24, who is stationed in Seoul, South Korea, was expecting a baby with his estranged wife Marina Garcia, until she told him that the child was not biologically his.
"I was under the assumption the entire time that she was pregnant that I was the father. When I found out I wasn't, I was pretty upset; I was kind of in denial. I couldn't believe what was going on,” Garcia News 4 Tucson.
Despite the child not being his, he said he was willing to adopt the child and raise him as his own.
On Feb. 2, Marina Garcia went into labor at Canyon Vista Medical Center in Sierra Vista, Arizona. She told her husband’s sister that the baby had died in child birth.
"When my sister called me about that, it was pretty emotional. We cried quite a bit together over the phone. It was devastating,” Garcia said.
However, Marina Garcia was lying. She gave birth to a baby boy that day.
The tragic story took another unexpected turn.
Three days later, on Feb. 5, a trooper pulled over a car for suspected speeding near Wilcox. Inside the vehicle, the trooper encountered a couple in their 40s as well as a newborn baby.
The couple, identified as Alex and Leslie Hernandez, of Kennedy, Texas, told the officer they were not the child’s parents.
Instead, investigators uncovered the couple “conspired with the birth mother, who was identified verbally as Marina Garcia, to forge the signature as the father to take possession of the infant child.”
Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre said Marina Garcia gave the newborn to the couple and forged the birth certificate. He said there was no evidence that any money was exchanged.
“The only thing on her mind was getting rid of this child. This 'problem' in her life. What scares me is that if it hadn't been the Hernandez's, if the couple hadn't been willing to step forward, then what person off the Internet might have been next?" McIntyre said.
Marina Garcia did not immediately comment on the allegations. She told News 4 Tucson her husband was not the baby’s biological father and that no money was involved in the exchange. When asked who the baby’s father was, Garcia answered, “It’s unknown.”
Steven Garcia has filed for divorce from his wife and DNA tests revealed he was not the baby’s father. However, the soldier said he would like to custody of the baby because he himself was adopted.
"My adopted father completely changed my life. Without him I would not be where I am today. And for the opportunity to do that for someone else, I believe it's important. It could change the child's life and give him a better future and I believe that's the right thing to do,” Garcia said.
Marina Garcia told News 4 Tucson that her husband “is not gonna get custody of the baby.”
She “pleaded guilty to an attempted scheme to defraud by forging the birth certificate, naming Alex Hernandez as the father,” News 4 Tucson reported. She was slated to be scheduled next month.
Alex and Leslie Hernandez “pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit forgery” and were sentenced to four years of supervised probation.
The baby was currently in foster care and the soldier’s cousin has created a GoFundMe to pay for Steven Garcia’s legal and travel expenses.
When asked what Steven Garcia would ask his wife, he said, "I would just ask her, 'Why?' Why she lied about everything. I want to know what was going through her head, to be honest with you.”