Tangled adoption suit heads to trial

'Let's get this taken care of,' judge admonishes feuding couples after hearing in bitter dispute

By Pamela Manson
The Salt Lake Tribune

Wellsville residents Scott and Karen Banks are the owners of Focus on Children, an adoption agency at the heart of a February federal indictment alleging fraud and immigration violations.

The indictment alleges that the Bankses, the agency and employees tricked and coerced Samoan birth parents into giving their children to the agency for adoption, then falsely told adoptive parents that the youngsters were orphans.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty and are free pending trial. The agency ceased operations in Utah earlier this summer.

LOGAN - A judge has scheduled a February trial in a dispute over who should be able to adopt a toddler from China - a Wellsville couple or a Kansas City-area couple.

"Let's get this taken care of so this child can know where she's going to spend the rest of her life," 1st District Judge Clint Judkins said of the girl, who turned 3 earlier this month.

The judge ordered both sides to arrange for a home study and prepare for the three-day trial, set to begin Feb 5. 

Judkins' order came at the end of a Monday hearing in the bitter dispute. He denied a request to turn over the girl immediately to Mary Frances and Curry Kirkpatrick, saying he needed more information before deciding who should have custody of the child. 

The Kirkpatricks arranged to adopt the girl, who they named Amelya, through Focus on Children, a Utah agency operated by Scott and Karen Banks. While the adoption was pending, the Overland Park, Kan., couple learned Mary Frances was pregnant with twins. 

Soon after Curry Kirkpatrick flew to China in December 2005 to finalize the adoption and bring Amelya back, problems arose. Mary Frances was suffering from severe postpartum depression and the girl was exhibiting "destructive behavior" toward the twins, the Kirkpatricks say. 

The two say they asked the Bankses to take temporary guardianship but changed their minds within a few weeks and revoked the arrangement. The Bankses refused to return the girl, who they named Amanda, and filed a petition to adopt her themselves. 

At Monday's hearing, the Kirkpatricks' attorney, Steven Kuhnhausen, said the Bankses have no legal right to the girl. He also said he believed the Utah couple will go to prison "for they what they did in Samoa" and will be unable to care for the child. 

The Bankses and their agency are charged in Utah's federal court with fraud and immigration violations connected to adoptions of Samoan children. 

Ann Wassermann, the attorney for the Bankses in the adoption case, angrily accused Kuhnhausen of numerous misstatements. 

She alleged that Curry Kirkpatrick initially told the Bankses that Mary Frances hated the girl. Wassermann also said the Kirkpatricks had no contact with the toddler for almost a year, until May 2007, when they heard about the federal indictment. 

"It's really a stretch to call them parents," Wassermann said. 

An attorney appointed to represent the girl pointed out the two couples have differing parenting styles, and asked that the child be placed permanently with one family as soon as possible. 

Since July, Mary Frances Kirkpatrick has flown to Utah to see the girl for a few hours at a time. The judge said Monday those visits can now be extended to overnight stays. 



I used to be a daughter of

I used to be a daughter of Karen and scott banks ....i am just now beginning to find out the truth about all their scams......That lawyer of the Banks makes me sick....how in the world could she recommend the Banks as good people ? Amelya deserves way better, and I know for a fact that The Kirkpatricks can give her that. I am a perfect example that the Banks can't really love a child....They might get tired of her and throw her away in some distant country and be lost forever just like me and my other two brothers......This whole situation makes me want to vomit.......

You were never a "daughter" there but you are now.

Find you voice, speak out, shout out.
You can make a change in the world, where innocent children who are "obtained" not adopted,
Children who are collected, but never collected in the arms if their mothers, for a big hug.
Children who are used for the "tax benifits.
Children who are acquired and never allowed to live a joyful, fun, happy childhood.
Children who suffer at the hands of their disfunctional "parental role models"
Children who's value in a family is highly conditioned on the whims if the adopted parents
Children who are controlled and ordered around by "drill sargent" power contolling parents,
You made the first step, dear, start running.

Focus on Children Scott and Karen Banks 48 Hours 12.12.09

48 Hours is featuring the work of the Banks, and Focus on Children Adoption minions, that operated a busy little business where they established their own nanny house and placed children in it for the sole purpose of "creating" ORPHANS, in Western Samoa.

Dan Wakefield was interviewed, and told his side of the story.
48 Hours flew to Samoa to speak to the biological parents of these, creativitly created orphans, to hear their very real sad stories of their children, the promises of a better life in the land of "good and plenty", with ice in their cokes! And a "have a nice day" daily greeting! And who could forget the American education, that they would get if they got on an airplane to live with new, fresh, wealthy, adoptive parents, who are so much superior to their own biological parents. What a sales line.

But, alias, the "orphans' will be returned to their biological parents when they are 18, or adults, when they can afford a ticket, when they can legally leave their adopted parents and go visit their bio parents!

Whew,,why does this sound like a long winded line of bullshit. Because it is, that is the sinker.

Lets hope that 48 hours does a better job then People magazine.

Bank's adoptive daughter

Auriel, are you ok now? Any outstanding issues surrounding your adoption that need dealing with? I am quit upset about what's happening. Perhaps you should sue them! This whole adoption business is wrong. And the culprits are getting away with it.

Am I right in thinking you are from Romania. If so, were you able to track your Romanian family?


Not to sound like sour grapes or anything, but the Banks kids are not the only kids who got screwed by sucky adoptive parents. Please remember that.


The Banks kids are not even the only adoptees screwed by adoption agency running sucky adoptive parents.

Bank's who focused more on not going to prison then their own ki

The Bank's adoptive children may not be the only adoptive children who have suffered in the hands of their adoptive parents. But it is not acceptable behavior for any adoptive child to suffer at the hands of adoptive parents.
There should be absolutely zero tolorance for this type of parenting.
Parents are adults and role models, it disgust me to read or hear of any type of suffering by any children and in this thread adopted children, who had no say in the matter.

Bad adoption agency owners and dsyfunctional adoptive parents go hand and hand. How in the hell did they pass a home study? Making social workers accountable for these crimes against children by adoptive parents that passed home studies with "flying colors". Lets go a step further and make the adoption agency's owners accountable for placing a child in wacko adoptive parents home's.

Lets go forward, with all of our energy and power to stop this from ever happening again. I read with great saddness the post written by the Bank's adopted child. It was heart breaking and it struck a nerve. In this particular case it scares the hell out of us those who are aware that the Bank's are in the process of trying to adopt another child. Especially, when they have adopted kids scattered about, left behind, and lost. These children, now young adults will carry that burden which the Bank's put on them, throughout their lives. And for this the Bank's should pay.

Voicing concerns

Bad adoption agency owners and dsyfunctional adoptive parents go hand and hand. How in the hell did they pass a home study?

When there is no regulation and no severe punishment for wrong-doing in adoptionland, it's easy to see how bad adoption agencies and dysfunctional AP's go hand in hand.  It's like a match made in money-making heaven, isn't it?

If there's one good thing that resulted from the Banks story, it is this -- people are finally beginning to see not every adoption agency or AP is as good as the general public would like to think or believe.  There are scores of adoptees who know there are terribly dysfunctional people being allowed to adopt (because they have money), but very few have the courage to admit this because of fear and dread.  Adoptees fear their opinions will be condemned and criticized, and adoptees fear their complaints will not be taken very seriously.   In this sense, adoptees are victimized twice by a system created to protect children from further harm.  Because AP's are pre-screened by an adoption agency, most would never think an AP can be as rotten or as a bad an abusive bio-parent.  Rarely do people consider the power money has when obtaining a child.  [Enter all the poor/selfish reasons behind an adoption plan... news flash, folks... not all AP's are buying children because it suits a child's needs.]  This fear to speak out is made worse by the fact that so many "adoption specialists" paint  a very general profile picture of the abused/neglected adoptee.  We, the abused and the adopted, are depicting as being disturbed psychopaths unable to attach or bond properly.  [If you were forced to live with two-faced nut-jobs, would you want to attach and bond, or would you want to detach and ultimately leave?]

What often happens is the adoptee who shows anger and resentment towards a given/chosen parent is seen an an adoptee with all sorts of negative adoption issues and problems -- issues and problems caused by biology, not by a very poor adoption experience.

I'm glad the Banks are making the news once again, and I'm glad their story is disturbing to many people... maybe in time, the justice system will catch-up to the needs of children and agree, people like the Banks have no business touching the lives of children because it does far more harm than good.

to Auriel

Hi Auriel,

I am really glad you posted. Ever since the story about Scott and Karen Banks made the news, I have been following the case, and of course also learned how you have been treated.

Maybe I am asking too much, but would you be willing to write (parts of) your story for our website. There is quite an audience out there that needs to learn about the horrible treatment you received. People need to learn that such practices both exist and are in fact condoned. If such a story would come from you, it would be really powerful.

To all adoptee's who have suffered by their adoptive savior

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.

Pound Pup Legacy