Fears for Queensland mother in Mexico after her daughter was found wandering alone at a church

The family of a north Queensland mother missing in Mexico, whose two-year-old daughter, Adelynn, was found alone at a Cancún church, are pleading with authorities to help swiftly bring the child to Australia.

Tahnee Shanks, 32, was last seen in the Yucatan peninsula resort town on Monday, where she was holidaying with her Mexican partner and Adelynn’s father, Jorge Aguirre Estudillo, who is also reportedly missing.

Her brother Ben and mother, Leanne, will travel to Mexico on Friday to try to take custody of her child and bring her to Australia.

The family say Adelynn is being cared for by a family services organisation.

“They’ll be going straight to get Addy, and then straight to the embassy to get her passport sorted, and then straight to the police station to start helping to find Tahnee,” Dan Shanks, Adelynn’s uncle, said.

“Addy and my mother will be flying home immediately, as soon as they can, and my brother will be staying behind to assist police.”

He said the family was offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to his sister’s safe return.

Tahnee Shanks, who grew up in Conway Beach on the Whitsundays, is a Mexican citizen and has been living in the North American country for several years.

Her family say she had been trying to return home, but those plans had been derailed by Covid-19 and other complications.

“Tahnee just wanted to come home,” Shanks said.

“She was homesick and she wanted to see her family.”

In a post on her Facebook account last May, Tahnee Shanks expressed her frustration that border closures would not allow her to come back to Australia until mid-2022.

“My baby girl will be 2 1/2 years old and hasn’t even met her grandad, uncles, great gran, cousins,” she wrote.

Shanks said he spoke to a Mexican police officer who was investigating his sister’s disappearance on Thursday, with Tahnee’s paediatrician acting as an interpreter.

He said police had found what they believed to be the vehicle the family had been travelling in.

“It’s a white Toyota Tundra and apparently they are quite rare in Cancún … and it was found near the church where Addy was dumped,” he said.

He said he had also spoken with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Thursday and was urging Australian authorities to help ensure the family received an emergency passport to bring Adelynn to Queensland.

“My sister had all this organised, but it’s a long process trying to do it from Mexico,” Shanks said.

“We’re trying to accelerate that, get an emergency one sorted.”

Tahnee Shanks’ social media profiles describe her as an aspiring travel writer and a “happy hippy ginger ninja” who is travelling “around the world one country at a time”.

Friends say she is “adventurous and fun”.

“She had a daughter and then her whole life became about her daughter,” one said.

“She never left her daughter’s side.”

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