Twin sisters who made global headlines when a British couple and an American couple both paid money to adopt them have just started university.
Missouri-born twins Kiara and Keyara Wecker were just six months old in 2001, when Alan and Judith Kilshaw 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.
Ready for university: The twins, pictured together on social media, have grown into 'fine young women', says their adoptive mother
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.
More than 17 years after the 'internet twins saga', the foster parents who finally legally adopted them described how they felt it was their ‘duty’ to give the girls a home.
Their adoptive mother, 56, who has not been named, told the Daily Mirror: ‘They have grown into fine young women, each with their own dreams and ambitions.’
In 2000, Kiera and Keyara were first adopted by US couple Richard and Vickie Allen, who said they had paid £4,000 for the children through an adoption agency named A Caring Heart.
For two months, the Allens raised the babies as their own, only for the twins’ natural mother Tranda Wecker, 28, to suddenly get in touch to say she wanted two days to say a ‘final goodbye’.
Once she had the twins she passed them over to solicitor Mr Kilshaw and his wife.
The Kilshaws, who maintained they were unaware that the twins had already been adopted, had been dealing with Internet adoption broker Tina Johnson.
In a tense scene in a hotel lobby in San Diego, the Allens saw the British couple apparently leaving with the babies and a fight broke out.
Now the sisters, who were brought up knowing about their extraordinary story, have turned 18 and are studying social sciences at university
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
The twins, rechristened Belinda and Kimberley by the Kilshaws, were at first cared for at the couple’s farmhouse in North Wales.
But a protection order was served on the Kilshaws in January 2001 and the twins were taken into the care of Flintshire social services.
Flintshire County Council later lodged an appeal to the Family Division of the High Court to make the twins wards of court.
Minister Tony Blair even weighed in as the scandal grew, calling the
sale of the children over the internet 'disgusting'.
In April 2001, the Kilshaws lost their battle to keep the children after a judge ruled it would not be in the ‘welfare interests’ of the twins.
In California, Allens were forced to withdraw their custody claim after Mr Allen was arrested in the spring of 2001, when two babysitters, ages 13 and 14, said he had sexually molested them.
Social services remove the twins from the care of the Kilshaws at The Beaufort Park Hotel in Wales in January 2001
The outcome of that case is unclear, although he does not seem to appear
on California's list of registered sex offenders.
Now the twins’ adoptive father, 72, is speaking of how he first heard about
the plight of the twins on television.
He told the Mirror: ‘I remember seeing them on Good Morning America not long after they were handed over to the British couple. I remember thinking to myself what a heartbreaking situation it was.’
The couple, from Missouri, were contacted by social services soon after the High Court case, who asked if they could take in twin girls who had been overseas.
Their adoptive father added: ‘I felt it was my duty to take them.
'They brought them straight from the airport to our home and we have
never looked back since.’
The couple, from Missouri, said they lost some friends after adopting the
girls, as some thought the children should be placed with their birth mother.
Even though the girls were allowed to see Miss Wecker if they wished, their adoptive mother said Keyara does not want to see her.
Growing up, the twins enjoyed playing sports such as lacrosse and basketball and are now playing in their university band.
Even though the pair share similar interests, Keyara is more extroverted while Kiara is more shy.
The twins, who have been brought up under different names, still live with their adoptive parents but are hoping to leave home next year.
You're welcome to her: Alan Kilshaw was only too happy for ex Judith to wed her toyboy after their marriage fell apart in wake of baby buying scandal
By Helen Weathers for the Daily Mail
Given the humiliating manner in which their 15-year marriage came to an end, former solicitor Alan Kilshaw could be excused for feeling a little bitter towards his ex-wife Judith.
Not least because, on March 21 2009, Judith, then 55, married her 42-year-old fiance Stephen Sillett - the 'toyboy lover' she met in a nightclub and for whom she left Alan and their two sons in 2007.
But in what must be one of the most bizarre wedding ceremonies ever, Alan gave his ex-wife away to the 'other man' - happily, ecstatically even, bestowing upon them every blessing under the sun.
'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 ahead of the wedding.
Alan and Judith Kilshaw are pictured together with Judith's new husband Stephen Sillett shortly ahead of their marriage in 2009
'I don't feel jealous of Stephen, nor bitter in the slightest. Once a marriage has expired, it's best just to move on. Judith didn't have anyone else to give her away. Her father Ralph died a long time ago, so I was pleased to accept her invitation, although no doubt it will raise a few eyebrows on the day.
As for Judith, for whom this would be third time lucky, she said Alan was the obvious choice to give her away because - despite everything - he was still her 'best friend'.
And luckily for her, Alan is the forgiving, magnanimous type - unlike the rest of her family. Judith has a certain knack for alienating her nearest and not so dearest.
Louisa Richardson - Judith's estranged eldest daughter from her first marriage - was not invited to the nuptials following an ugly catfight in 2008, when the pair met briefly at the home of Judith's late mother Brenda shortly after her death.
Nor will her younger daughter Caley Richardson who once accused Judith of being an 'unfit mother'.
For two months, the babies were raised by another couple, only for the twins’ natural mother Tranda Wecker (pictured) to suddenly get in touch to say she wanted two days to say a ‘final goodbye’
She disappeared to America two years ago after falling out bitterly with her mother over the relationship with toyboy Stephen.
So while almost all of the 20 guests at Judith's wedding were from Stephen's side, only a stoic Alan was there for her, as well as their bewildered sons James and Rupert who were encouraged by their father to accept Stephen and recognise their mother's right to happiness.
'We all get on really well. We've tried to be very mature about it for the sake of the boys,' Judith said. 'Alan is giving Stephen driving lessons and they often go for a drink together.
'Sometimes I joke that Stephen should be marrying Alan instead of me, they spend so much time together.'
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
Alan stopped short of saying that Stephen is welcome to Judith but
confirmed, rather firmly: 'No, I don't want her back.'
Together as 'The Kilshaws' they achieved the kind of notoriety few marriages would have the mettle to withstand.
It was in 2001 that the Kilshaws were propelled from anonymity to universal figures of hate when they paid £8,200 to an unscrupulous baby broker in
the United States to adopt six-month-old, mixed-race American twins
Belinda and Kimberley.
It was only after they arrived in the U.S. to collect them that they discovered that the twins' mother, Tranda Wrecker - who'd put them up for sale on the internet - had already placed them with an American couple, Richard and Vickie Allen, who'd paid £4,000.
The Allens would later claim they'd been tricked into handing back the twins to Wrecker for a final goodbye before the adoption was finalised, only to discover they'd been gazumped and the girls had been handed over to the Kilshaws instead.
With the Allens in hot pursuit, the Kilshaws drove 2,000 miles across America and after formally adopting the twins in the U.S., they booked flights home to Manchester and into the eye of a media storm - where their unconventional lifestyle was put under intense scrutiny.
Not only did Judith already have two daughters, Louisa and Caley, from her first marriage, to civil servant Mike Richardson, and two sons, James and Rupert, with Alan, but the couple regularly threw vicars and tarts themed parties at their North Wales farmhouse (a police officer who once arrived to ask them to turn down the noise was mistaken for a strip-a-gram).
Alan and Judith Kilshaw speak to reporters outside their farmhouse in Buckley, north Wales shortly after the twins were taken out of their custody
Judith's daughter Louisa would also later claim that her mother, desperate to give Alan the daughter he so desired, offered her £3,000 to act as a surrogate, and tried to persuade her to have an abortion when she fell pregnant with her own child.
Tony Blair called the adoption deal 'disgusting' as the Kilshaws dragged the twins from pillar to post for countless press interviews.
Then weeks after their arrival in Britain, Flintshire social services seized the twins and they were returned to the US after a High Court judge annulled the American adoption, branding the Kilshaws as 'media obsessed' with no genuine concern for the welfare of the twins.
couple then did themselves no favours by agreeing to take part in a
documentary called Meet The Kilshaws in which Judith came across as a
foul-mouthed, volatile harridan with Alan as a henpecked milksop.
The scandal, plus changes to legal aid regulations, resulted in the loss of 90 per cent of Alan's income almost overnight.
More than £50,000 in debt following the twins fiasco, their £230,000 farmhouse in Buckley, North Wales, was repossessed.
Mrs Kilshaw holds her head as her husband speaks to media seconds after social services removed the twins from their care
Judith had until then been scraping a living as a part-time cleaner.
Stephen, a divorced father of two grown-up sons and an anthropology
graduate and musician, has regular work as an agency administrator.
There are times, he admitted, when he wondered what he had got himself into and in 208 briefly called off their relationship.
'When I first met Judith, I didn't know anything about her past and didn't particularly want to,' said Stephen, who proposed to Judith in December when he took her on the Santa Express to the Welsh Lapland tourist attraction.
'But she told me her story
and I understand why she did what she did. She lives a very normal,
ordinary life now. I'm hoping that when she becomes Mrs Judith Sillett
it will draw a line under the past.'
Both Alan and Judith, who first met through a newspaper lonely hearts column, believe they'd probably still be married today if they'd been allowed to keep the twins.
Judith and Alan Kilshaw leave Birmingham High Court in March 19, 2001 as they battled to get back the twins
neither of them believes they did anything wrong or immoral, preferring
to blame the babies' mother, Flintshire social services and the
It was Judith's daughter Caley who found the details of a number of American baby-brokers on the internet.
Tina Johnson of the Caring Heart Agency was the only one to respond to the Kilshaws' inquiry and introduced them to Tranda Wrecker.
'When we arrived in America, we had no idea the twins had been placed with the Allens,' said Judith, whose late parents used to run a children's home in Cheshire, which she says inspired her to adopt.
'What Tranda Wrecker did was very cowardly, but she obviously already had concerns about the Allens before we came along.
'She had the right to change her mind about the adoption and she chose us over them. We didn't buy those babies.
Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair called the adoption deal 'disgusting' as the Kilshaws dragged the twins from pillar to post for countless press interviews
'We had to bring all the appropriate paperwork to show the American court, proof of income and address, to show that we had the means to provide for them. I still believe we could have given those twins a very happy life.'
Alan continues: 'The adoption was legal, we didn't break any laws and we were not charged with any criminal offence.'
and Judith prefer to believe that the twins were taken away from them
for racial reasons; that politically correct social workers were aghast
at the thought of a white couple bringing up mixed-race children in a
predominantly white area.
Shortly after the twins were taken away from them, Alan - staggeringly - agreed to donate his sperm to the sister of the woman who'd previously donated her eggs to Judith for an unsuccessful IVF treatment.
'It was a gift in return for a gift,' said Judith. 'This woman's sister was desperate for a baby, but had no partner and she wanted a child by Alan because she knew he was intelligent and had no health issues.
'We agreed that Alan would not interfere in their lives, but that she would send us the occasional picture or letter letting us know how her child was getting on.'
The couple received much criticism after they appeared on a TV show called Meet the Kilshaws on Channel 4