Patti Sawyer’s family is in jeopardy.

Date: 
2009-02-26

ABC News

Salt Lake City, UT—Patti Sawyer’s family is in jeopardy. Jayden, the little adopted girl who so completes her life, and now plays in the snow with her American sister and brother…may be a treasure on borrowed time.

Patti Sawyer, adoptive mother: “She’s one in a million. When you ask what she’s brought, she fulfills it…she fulfilled the circle that needed to be completed”

Through no fault of Patti’s, Jayden was virtually stolen away from her Samoan family by an overzealous adoption agency that promised parents on the Pacific Island their kids would be educated in America, by loving families, but allowed to visit, talk and share their lives through pictures and letters, until they reached age 18.

On this side of the world, new parents such as Patti were told totally different stories.

Patti Sawyer: “I was told she was abandoned in the bathroom, no brothers and sisters, no one.“

It is an adoption scam that is devastating to at least 37 children, and their families, in Samoa, and here in the United States, and began a new terrifying chapter Wednesday at a Salt Lake City, Utah courthouse with the conviction of 4 administrators of Focus on Children adoption agency.

American adoptive parents now worry the next step could be the loss of their new loved ones.

Patti Sawyer: “I can’t look at Jayden and think, ‘will I have her, will someone grab her away.‘“

Patti Sawyer is hoping to convince Jayden’s Samoan family to let her finish her education here, visit home, share her life with 2 sets of parents, but she knows her birth family has fundamental rights.

Patti Sawyer: “Jayden is with me, so my concern is: ‘How do I keep that connection with the family?“

On the courthouse steps, in Salt Lake City, after the verdicts were read, and Focus on Children execs put on probation, and ordered out of the adoption business, families gathered in anger.

Elizabeth, mother: “They stole children and one of them is mine.“

Father, Mike Nyberg, has already given up his daughter. When he learned that his daughter had been stolen from her family, tricked into sending her to America, he took her back to Samoa for a painful and now lasting reunion.

Mike Nyberg, father: “It’s really difficult, its emotional. She is truly my little girl and to not have her with me is a really difficult thing. When adoption agencies practice the way Focus on Children did, they destroy people’s lives.“

Many of the American families say they suspected, early on, their children had not been abandoned, or orphaned, as they were told, because when they arrived, the toddlers told stories of loving families at home.

Mike Nyberg: “She cried herself to sleep every night, for the first 3 weeks she lived with us, and I thought, ‘this doesn’t sound like a little girl that’s been in foster care.‘“

The original charges against the agency were felonies, but in the end, the plea bargain left only misdemeanor convictions for those who inflicted such heavy pain families now in legal limbo, in 2 countries, half a world away.

Patti Sawyer: “Can these people imagine what it feels like to have a child torn from their arms?“

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