Samoa - Focus on Children - Scott & Karen Banks case

Scott and Karen Banks                  Heta Nua's Parents

Prosecutors say recruiters exploited the faith of the Samoan parents -- many of whom are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- and sold adoption as a program that would send youngsters to live with an American Mormon family and get a good education before returning home at 18. The Samoan parents claim they also were promised money, regular letters and photos from the U.S. families. Some were told adoption was like a 'mission' trip.

In Samoa, adoptions are informal affairs within a family. Samoan informal adoptions do not sever the link between the child and the bio parents, but rather create a link between the caregiving family and the bio family. In addition, in this situation, many Samoan families may have been encouraged to ignore what the lawyers said and rely on the words of their fellow church members, Dan Wakefield and others, who led the families to believe the children WOULD return, rather than: a few of the adoptees might return for brief visits as adults.

Adoptive parents were falsely told that the youngsters were orphans or abandoned. Adoptive parents were not told of the promises or regular communication and travel made to the bio families. Adoptive families were actively discouraged from meeting the bio families.

Children were placed in nanny houses to meet USCIS guidelines of an 'orphan' defined as abandoned by both parents or left with one parent who cannot provide care. Parents took children to an FOC nanny house, but they often visited and took the youngsters home for extended stays. Others cared for their children at home before and after the adoption paperwork was done.

FOC's adoption processing guidelines said 'Do all adoption steps without any contact between Adoptive parents and Birth Parents'.

Three of FOC's adoption lawyers in Samoa worked for the Samoa government, one is now Attorney General.

See also individual cases:
Elleia Nyberg (Sei So) case
Fa'anunu Faiupu's children case
J.T. case
Michael Ulisese McKrola (Posi Iva) case
Heta Nua's death

and this abuse case which may be an FOC placement
Boy adopted by Scott and Catherine Kanani Nelson

Date: 2002-02-01
Number of children: 38


Organizations: FOC nanny house in Letogo, FOC nanny house in Ululoloa, MedCen private hospital
Persons: Tagaloa Ieti, and Tagaloa Ieti's wife


DocumentDatesort icon
Brett Tolman resigning as U.S. attorney2009-10-15
Family reunited following adoption scam2009-08-02
Defendants in Samoan adoption case must pay $100,000 to trust fund2009-07-16
A Dad's Adoption Nightmare2009-06-22
Prosecutors seeking at least $108,000 in Samoan adoption case2009-06-15
Letter to the Editor: A “very disappointed” Tracy Wilson 2009-03-29
Father hears daughter after five years 2009-03-23
Adopted girl coming home 2009-03-21
Meet the Parents: The Dark Side of Overseas Adoption2009-03-09
Adoption fraud sentence ‘just’2009-03-08
Following up on adoption scam, 'Good Morning America' will chronicle FdL family's trip to Western Somoa2009-03-05
Adoption scam hits home2009-03-02
Police complete probe into adoption scam 2009-03-02
Ruling attacked 2009-02-28
Federal judge says Samoan adoption defendants don't need prison2009-02-27
Owners of agency at centre of Samoan adoption scam avoid jail2009-02-27
Patti Sawyer’s family is in jeopardy. 2009-02-26
Four Sentenced in Scheme to 'Adopt' Samoan Kids2009-02-26
Adoptive parents feel betrayed 2009-02-25
Judge has mercy on Samoan adoption scam defendants; no prison time2009-02-25
U.S. v Focus on Children, et al Sentencing Press Release2009-02-25
Judge has mercy on Samoan adoption scam defendants; no prison time2009-02-25
Moms make most of chance to reconnect2009-02-24
Sentencing delayed for defendant in Samoan adoption case2009-02-18
Samoan adoption scandal fuels call for reform2009-02-16
Adoption scandal has prompted only minor changes2009-02-14
Samoans shocked by lenient adoption scam penalties2009-02-00
Adoption-scam defendants cut no-jail-time deal: Samoan kids ? Adoptive parents disappointed with probation sentence. 2009-01-07
Supporters speak: 'They gave me the most amazing gift'2009-01-07
Samoan Adoptions: Nua Family 2009-01-07
Adoption scam defendants cut no-jail-time plea deal 2009-01-06
Defendants in Samoan adoption scandal to plead guilty Tuesday2009-01-05
USDOJ Sentencing Memo2009-01-01
Focus on Children Federal Document2009-00-00
No winners in Samoan adoption scandal2008-11-18
Wellsville couple retain custody of toddler 2008-05-01
Little girl stays here - for now 2008-02-01
Utah couple embroiled in adoption scandal say Samoan attorneys can exonerate them2007-12-28
Another adoption agency in hot water2007-11-16
Tangled adoption suit heads to trial2007-10-30
Conspiracy alleged in adopting Samoan kids 2007-09-05
Teen ranch evades law [FOC operated 2.5 yrs in Utah without a license]2007-07-16
Watching for red flags2007-06-18
Daughter's history a lie2007-06-17
Tot dies after stay at nanny house2007-06-17
Dreams of parents in two worlds shattered by scandal 2007-06-17
Trusting dad gives kids away; Son promises to return2007-06-17
False promises: How parents and prosecutors contend families in two countries were duped 2007-06-14
Out of Samoa: How adoption laws work 2007-06-14
Utah adoption probe widens 2007-06-11
Defense presses for gag order 2007-04-11
Samoan lawyer defends adoptions 2007-03-17
Samoan leader discusses adoption 2007-03-14
Families share adoption woes 2007-03-13
Embassy grilled on adoption scandal2007-03-11
Samoan attorney terms adoption charges 'rubbish' 2007-03-07
Adoptive parents anxious 2007-03-06
Baby Selling Scheme video2007-03-05
Claims about 'orphans' key in shady adoptions 2007-03-03
A community in shock 2007-03-03
Utah adoption agency hit by fraud allegations 2007-03-02
Feds uncover adoption scheme that targeted Samoan children2007-02-03
Letter from Terry Bourke regarding Samoan Adoptions and the Death of Heta2005-10-11
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; A South Pacific Perspective2005-09-01
[duplicate to delete] A Brief Outline of Customary Child Adoption Practices in Samoa [duplicate to delete]2005-09-01
Samoa bans overseas adoption agencies2005-06-27
Death prompts Samoan adoption change 2005-06-25
Scott Banks emails regarding birthparent affidavits2005-04-15
Samoan adoptions raise eyebrows 2004-08-14
Letter from Dr. Robert Skillman to Dan Wakefield2004-00-00
Birth parent relinquishment form
Steps for Processing Adoption
Adoptive Parent checklist
Points of Emphasis to be used when talking to birth parents
Private Notes - Agency possibilities for abused Nelson children - keep private
Do You Understand Checklist
Adoptive parent application
Average: 6 (1 vote)


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