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Bargain Hunters:
Buy two babies, get 25% off!

March 17, 2007 permalink

Here is another case of babies sold for cash, with published prices, this time Samoans sold to Americans.



Samoa rocked by adoption scandal

The tiny Pacific nation of Samoa has been embroiled in an adoption scandal, with families in the United States paying thousands of dollars to adopt children who were not orphans.

Five people are being prosecuted by US authorities and two others are being sought for their part in a scandal that saw 81 children given to families in America without the full understanding of their biological parents.

It is alleged the adoption agency Focus on Children knowingly brought children into the US under false premises between March 2002 and June 2005.

Melodie Rydalch from the US Attorney in Utah said Focus on Children allegedly had American parents pay $US13,000 ($NZ19,000) to adopt a Samoan child, although there was a discount for adopting two children, which cost $US20,000. She said parents of the children in Samoa and the United States were both victims of the alleged con.

"The Samoan families (allegedly) thought that their children were being put into a programme, that they would receive letters, they would receive visits, they would stay in touch with the children and that when the children reached 18, that they would return to Samoa having had a good education and would then be able to take good care of the Samoan parents.

"On the other side, the American families thought they were orphans or that they had been relinquished by their parents and that it was a permanent adoption. Both sets of parents are victims, it is alleged," Rydalch said.

"Some of them were newborn and some of them were teenagers," she said.

The managers of the scheme, Scott and Karen Banks, as well as three other people Karalee Thornock, Coleen Bartlett and Dan Wakefield have been freed on conditions in the United States but are facing penalties as high as 20 years in jail and a $US500,000 fine.

Two other people involved who are in Samoa, Tagaloa Ieti and Julie Tuiletufuga, are being sought by US authorities.

Rydalch said no matter what the outcome of the prosecutions, the fate of the 81 children living in the United States would be determined by civil actions, which could take years.

"We have been encouraging communication between the two families," she said.

The prime minister of Samoa in a media statement said US officials had met with his government.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi's office said the country would be conducting its own investigation into the adoption scheme.

"To date, Samoa has not received any written request from the United States of America for the extradition of the two Samoa citizens who have been charged in the state of Utah. If such a request is received, Samoa will consider what assistance, if any, it can provide," he said.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was unable to immediately say whether any Australian families also had attempted to adopt children through the scheme.

A trial date for the hearing into those allegedly involved in the scheme is expected to be set early April.

Source: Fairfax Media, New Zealand