Follow-up to my Dec 11 post.
Samoan kids were KIDNAPPED! Fifty seven that we know of. The couple who ran the adoption agency, Focus on Children in Utah, have been arrested for fraud. The very serious charges include: Two counts of conspiracy, 37 of bringing in illegal aliens to the United States; 37 of encouraging or inducing illegal aliens to come to, enter or reside in the United States; 34 of fraud and misuse of visas; 19 of laundering of monetary instruments; and six of monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity.
The agency owners, Karen and Scott Banks and five agency employees accused could face up to 80 years' prison, and fines of up to $2.25 million U.S. if found guilty. There have been allegations that children at the house were mistreated. One little girl, Heta Sioka, left the house on the brink of starvation after her Samoan family demanded to see her and she later died in hospital from severe malnutrition. For all the evidence that some Focus on Children staff may have deceived parents, the Samoan government has stead-fastly refused to allow U.S. authorities to take the two suspects from Samoa back to America.
In October 2008, it was further revealed that the Banks’, who have two biological children, adopted their first three children from Romania, three from Russia and a girl from China [being challenged - see comment]. The adoption from China was challenged by Curry and Mary Frances Kirkpatrick, of Overland Park, Kansas, who said they were to adopt the 4 year-old girl and placed her temporarily with the Bankses when they needed respite care. The Bankses claim the Kirkpatricks abandoned her. The Bankses, however, admit sending two of the Romanian adopted children to American Samoa, however, claiming failure to bond. What they neglected to send with the children were any birth, adoption or social security records leaving one of the children, Meauli, now 18, and the boy she refers to as her brother, with no identity, no ability to drive, travel or enter college.
Meanwhile, Samoan families are distraught however and are unable to retrieve the children they lost without filing custody charges in the U.S. against those who have adopted them, unwittingly. Only one child, eight-year-old Sei So, has so far returned to Samoa. Sei is happy but misses the toys and her American family. The woman who adopted her, Kari Nyberg, said: "As much as we love her and can't imagine life without her, we never would have taken a child away from a family that wanted to raise her."
CBS Sheds Light Amidst Backlash
Now a 48 Hours investigation report is bringing this tragedy into sharp focus. It's making national headlines and those who don't like it have created a diversion:
The media is now being flooded with stories (such as this one) of how CBS paid to fly one of the adoptive mothers to Samoa to film her daughter's reunion with her Samoan mother. SO FREAKIN WHAT!!!
Bob Steele, a journalism values scholar at DePauw University, said it was a legitimate story. But CBS' financial involvement raised ethical questions. "I'm certainly troubled when a news organization financially involves itself in the course of a story and potentially impacts how the story develops," he said.
Susan Zirinsky, "48 Hours" executive producer, compared the arrangement to when news organizations fly interview subjects to locations for interviews. That's a common practice among morning shows, for example, who will fly interviewees to New York and put them up in a nice hotel. If CBS had arranged for both families to come to New York, it wouldn't have been an issue, she said. She thought Samoa was the proper place to unspool the story. "We wanted to put the families together and talk to them together," she said. "Journalistically, I felt that was absolutely appropriate to be able to discuss with both families in one location how they felt and how they were going to work it out."
You'd think the network drummed the whole story up, fabricated it, or paid someone to lie the way the media has run with this one aspect of the story - totally taking the spotlight off the fact that FIFTY SEVEN children have bene kidnapped and, once again, as with the Guatemalan kidnap victims - the U.S. government is standing idly by and doing absolutely nothing to confirm or deny.
The "controversy" about this is as ridiculous - and stems from the same sources - as the hullabaloo over the horror film The Orphan.
Let's get our priorities straight: Kids have been kidnapped. their families in Samoa are distraught and the recipients and the U.S. government are stonewalling!
Also lost in the smoke screen is the fact that the CBS story focused on Mike and Kari Nyberg, from outside Salt Lake City, Utah, whose adopted daughter went back to Samoa permanently! CBS was not involved in paying for the Nybergs' trip.