MIAMI – A child custody battle is brewing over a newborn who was born in Miami, but whose father in Cuba wants custody of her.
Yarisleidy Rodriguez, 34, died while giving birth to her daughter Valeria earlier this month.
Tears welled up in the eyes of Nairobis Pacheco Thursday, who has been granted temporary custody of the baby, as she described the final moments of her cousin's life.
"She was a special person. She was my sister. We were always together from a young age," Pacheco said.
Rodriguez, who was a Cuban citizen, had just obtained a U.S. visa through a lottery and had planned to petition for her husband, Yoelvis Gattorno, who still lives in Cuba, to come to the U.S.
But she passed away before the process was finalized.
"Her dream was always to be here with her daughters and move forward," Pacheco said.
While Pacheco is taking care of Valeria, Gattorno is trying to get custody of his daughter, even if that means she must live in Cuba.
"The law says that Valeria should be with her father," Pacheco said. "She has to be with her father -- that's the logical thing -- and I am with my doors wide open. I would never be closed off to that."
But Pacheco said living in Cuba wasn't what Rodriguez wanted for her children.
The Miami attorney representing the baby's father said he is now trying to obtain a humanitarian visa to come to the U.S. and take custody of his daughter.
As for Pacheco, she said she only took temporary custody of the child because she did not want her to go to a foster home.